Assignment 3: Tutor Feedback

Original Feedback Document

Overall Comments

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.


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.


Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity


Image 01

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.


Image 02

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.


Image 03

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?


Image 04

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.


Image 05

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.


Image 06

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.



Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Your coursework looks good and the exercises are easily found and viewed.



Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

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?


Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

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.


Suggested reading/viewing


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.


From assignment 1 –

Have a look at Dan Holdsworths night-time pictures in relation to your image number 01. They are beautifully sharp, technically brilliant. You should aspire to this! – images at night sharp and lovely


On relation to image 3, have a look at the industrial typologies that the Bechers have taken –


Martha Rosler – The Bowery in Two Inasequate Descriptive SystemsA great use of image and text – – -You have used titles again in relation to your images, you need to look at this work and reflect in your learning log.


From Assignment 02 –

Sian Bonnell – look at the way that Bonnell photogrpahs easily recognizable objects but yet makes us think about them very differently. Her Constructed Coast project is a good starting point.

Cindy Sherman – Look at Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills project and think about how coherent the series is and how each image adds more to the series.

Thomas Ruff – portraits – the coherence here is obvious but each human subject is, or course, very different.

Hendrik Kerstens – again a very coherent strategy to image making.


Pointers for the next assignment / assessment


  • Try to get out and see more work first hand. Try to find exhibitions that include images of different scales so that you can begin to think about this in relation to your own work. Working purely digitally can discourage thoughts about how important an appropriate scale can be.
  • Further reflection on the examples that I offer as well as ones that you discover yourself.
  • Think about the development of your ‘Research & Relection’ section as a more progressive “Learning Log’.