I feel more positive following this feedback compared with the last assignment, though some things still bother me. I shall respond to individual comments in the order that they were written.
‘You have submitted an interesting and promising set of images in response to the brief. It is not easy to take photographs in the public realm and you did well to utilize the technology at your disposal. This method of working means that you have to take lots and lots of pictures and that the most important part of the process is in the selection of images to be included. You have done a pretty good job and there are some good examples of decisive moments. Thank you also for sending prints, it is great to get into the habit of experiencing your work in the printed form as objects. As you move forward in your studies, this is something that you will be expected to do more and more.‘
This makes me feel good about the images I have produced, and is encouraging.
I print photos as often as I can. The cost of ink can be prohibitive, but I’m very aware of the temporary nature of anything posted online, and the fragility of digital files. Photos in physical form are the way to go, as far as I’m concerned.
‘There is a misunderstanding when trying to create images that fit in to the category of the decisive moment. Too often the decisive moment is considered to be simply the capturing of a moment in time through the use of a camera or the capturing of a moment that is about to happen. In one sense all photographs are ‘moments’ but what makes them ‘decisive’ in photographic theory terms is the capturing of a moment within an image whose narrative and compositional particularities conspire to create telling moment in time. This moment can be easily missed by a fraction of a second. I will try to apply this explanation as I comment on each of your individual images.’
This picture has caught an interesting moment in time and there is certainly the suggestion of something about to happen. The position of the foreground subject’s head who appears to be looking at the man creates the idea that something is about to happen. However, the moment might be considered more ‘decisive’ if the car was compositionally placed in a position before it reaches the man or the woman or both offering the notional potential for it to hit one or both of them.
You made a really good point in your reflection where you said that the reason this is your favourite image is because you know what did happen. We as viewers do not have this luxury so are bound down by the information included within the frame.’
I agree that compositionally, the moment would appear more decisive if the car appeared that it was going to hit one or both of the people. However, given that this was a real situation in the real world, unstaged, and completely out of my control, the point is moot. It was not a matter of poor timing or standing in the wrong place, as such a scene did not occur.
This is the picture that most closely includes an interesting decisive moment. It is a really good example that I hope the following commentary will explain.
Compositionally we are drawn to the character in the background through the character in the foreground. This visual arrangement creates a relationship between the two characters. The gaze of the background subject, who looks like she has been startled by something in the foreground then becomes intertwined with the action of the foreground subject on her phone. These formal qualities create an almost magic moment where we expect something to happen to the background character in relation to the actions of the foreground character. Has the older woman just texted the younger one? Has she just said something out loud? Has the phone made a strange sound? Id there somebody else, currently out of shot to the right, that might be about to do something? I would , perhaps, have preferred both characters to be in focus.’
The apparent interaction between the two people is a happy accident, as the older woman with the phone was the focus of my attention, hence the other woman being somewhat out of focus.
The most striking thing about this picture is the relationship between the red of the upright standing character’s coat and the red of the phone box (I also like the accent of red of the sign just peeking in to the left of frame). In terms of the decisive moment, I can see that you would like us to think about whether the phone is about to ring – and indeed we do but the picture, as a decisive moment, could be improved by the inclusion of another compositional element – perhaps another character who looks like they are walking towards the phone?’
The relationship between the red subjects is what initially drew my eye to the scene, so I’m glad that it worked compositionally. There is also the positioning of the lad and the phone box, either side of a wavy line, like a yin and yang, which is noteworthy.
I am puzzled by the rest of this comment, and indeed, entirely disagree with it. It was not my intention to suggest that the phone was about to ring. My intention was quite clear in my assignment notes, ‘…a youth, apparently staring in bewilderment at a telephone box. It’s as if he’s thinking “Phones go in your pocket. What’s that big red box all about?”’
The scene had comedic value and a narrative that definitely doesn’t require another compositional element. It is very disheartening when feedback creates the impression that the tutor has not read my assignment notes.
This one works well because of the echoed expressions of the two protagonists who appear to be looking at the camera. Their startled expressions seem to be too exaggerated to be simply responding to a covert photographer; they look like something much more serious has happened behind the photographer. Their reactions are compounded by the apparently not-bothered passer-by on the left of the frame. There is also a good compositional relationship between the angles created by the haircut sign and the cardboard boxes carried by the female protagonist.’
That’s pretty much how I feel about it. While it’s not my favourite image of the set, I do feel it’s the most unambiguous.
This one is less successful. The gaze of the cyclist coupled with the other characters arranged around him are not enough to call this moment decisive and it is compositionally less successful than some of your previous pictures.’
While I agree that the composition is weak, (the weakest in the set, even), what constitutes a decisive moment can be a matter of opinion, and on the subject of glances, I think I differ with my tutor.
To my mind, (and maybe this is because I have Asperger’s syndrome), eye contact is a very powerful and striking thing. It’s powerful when you experience it yourself, and entirely noteworthy when you see (or capture) it among others.
Again, a weaker one. I assume that it is the look of the woman walking towards the camera that you are considering as ‘decisive’?, this is not enough on its own. She is out of focus and there is not enough of a connection between her and the thing that she is apparently looking at.’
Again, I disagree, but of more concern to me, I again find myself questioning whether my tutor has bothered to read my assignment notes.
‘Your research is appropriate and includes some pertinent reflection. See if you can expand on the things you are looking at by visiting more exhibitions – even ones that you visit by design rather than chance! Try to reflect on the new things that you see in relation to your own work. Are there any parallels that can be drawn conceptually or visually or both?’
The visiting of galleries is problematic for me, both in terms of funds, travel, and social anxiety. This is unfortunate, as I do recognise the value of doing so.
I do on occasion refer to parallels that can be drawn between my own work and the work of others, though perhaps as I fit these things into posts on larger subjects, rather than writing specific pieces about them, such remarks are perhaps being missed?
I can work on this.
‘Your learning log is really your ‘Research and Reflection’ section. The inclusion of your coursework and assignments is good but your learning log should really be a record of everything that you are ‘learning’ rather than ‘doing’. The best learning logs include an evolving narrative of thinking evidenced by reflection on all aspect of your studies.’
I will have to work on this.
Apart from the technical side of capturing images, it is hard to describe what I actually ‘learn’.
I recognise that I may have an issue here. I reject an amount of what I read as nothing but pretentious rubbish, and so couldn’t claim to have learned anything from it. Other things that I read are concepts that I’m already familiar with, or seem little more than obvious or common sense, and so again, can’t write about learning, as I don’t feel I’ve learned anything new.
Would it be better to fake it? To appear that I buy into something that I do not, would be objectionable to me.
There is another aspect that I think I need to work on. Where I feel I am gaining most is in the looking at the work of recognised photographers. Not so much what they have said, and definitely not what others have said about them…. but their actual work. I see and feel things, and am influenced by their visual language. This is where it is difficult… because it is a visual language; while I can absorb and appreciate aspects of their work, and indeed, have learned many things… verbalising this is very difficult. It’s probably why I reject so much of what I read by others about others. Verbalising a visual language can result in gibberish.
‘There are lots of people that I have suggested that you look at in relation to previous assignments. I am not seeing any reflection of these practitioners on your blog. I have therefore copied and pasted these examples again for you to consider and reflect on.’
I did look at the work of those practitioners, but was unaware that I was expected to write pieces on them. Given that they were related to previous assignments, as opposed to the ones I was working on, this didn’t seem like a good use of time. Suggestions of practitioners to study, in relation to assignments, are much more useful when they come before the assignment, as opposed to after it, allowing me to be guided by example.
However, if reflection on the work of these photographers is what is expected, I shall comply.