This was a good first set of images submitted Katie and certainly makes a
positive start to this module.
This thematic set demonstrates a close attention to detail which is a positive
first step to successfully completing the module. Although it may not
necessarily apply to you, based upon the range of subject matter included in
your assignment submission, one point I do generally always make to new
students, is to try and stress the importance of shooting ‘new’ work for both
the project and assignment work from the outset. From your submission, it
looks like you have afforded considerable time and effort to the production of
this work, for which you should be commended. Please try to continue this
good practice and avoid the temptation to ‘shoe-horn’ in any existing imagery.
As this is your first assignment submission, there are no previous feedback
issues to reflect upon at this point in time.
A small point by means of continuity, I would perhaps suggest you try to keep
all your final prints the same format / size if possible. This just adds to the
weight and consistency of a themed body of work.
Eventually the work will be required to be submitted for Summative
Assessment at the end of the module and it is at this point where individual
prints are beneficial, with supporting ‘learning log’ documentation. By way of
a tip, when you do submit prints for assessment, always try to avoid stacking
un-sleeved imagery together without placing something between each print
[IE: tissue] as if anything has inadvertently soaked into the paper mount, they
can stick and spoil the image.
Try www.silverprint.co.uk for acid free high quality polyester archive sleeves.
These offer both good archival protection to the work whilst also avoiding any
hampered viewing of the prints. They are also a uniformed size to ensure that
continuity when viewing as a set.
Feedback on assignment
As already mentioned, this was an interesting set of well exposed and
focused image pairings in the main. The first pair of images work well
together but perhaps may have benefited from being a similar size as
mentioned previously ? I thought they were both well composed with the
subject matter taking up most of the frame and the subjects also loosely
related to one another which did help. I’d advise in future though to perhaps
rename the actual files ‘Strong.jpg’ & ‘Weak.jpg’ to avoid any confusion. Also
maybe try to spellcheck and proofread any text to ensure clarity and that it
actually makes sense etc.
Again, the next pairing may have worked better if they had been related in
some way, which is actually a criticism I find throughout the assignment.
I can’t fault them in terms of technique, but just thought if you wanted to
display ‘Hard’ as a Roman stone arch, then maybe ‘Soft’ could also have
been architecturally inspired but perhaps moss covered ? I like the shots
but struggle to see a link jump out … especially when the scarf doesn’t
play a major role in terms of the overall picture element. The same applies
to the next two images which although do correctly as described IE:
demonstrate ‘Moving’ & ‘Still’, are just not related in anyway, to encourage
the viewer to make the contrasting assumption. For the ‘Moving’ image, more
control can often be obtained by keeping the camera still [on a tripod perhaps]
and just leaving the shutter open so as to record the moving subject blurring.
With the ‘Many’ versus ‘Few’ images, I can see what you were aiming for
in terms of girls legs providing the ‘two stripes’ but this is such a tenuous
link I just wouldn’t have been able to establish this upon the visual evidence
alone ! The next shots of ‘Liquid’ and ‘Solid’ work much better as an image
pairing even if the latter is perhaps a little dark and underexposed. The
next pairing I found curious as the light appears to be heading from the
same direction in both images, even though it perhaps may have illuminated
the subjects better if it had been directed from the front. I liked the way in
which you had composed the image of the poppet and just wondered what
thought processes made you decide to position this to the right of a landscape
orientated image ? Again, I did find it quite difficult to specify what the
contrast actually was here and would have been lost without your annotation.
I think your work possibly needs to be more ‘literal’ in order to get across your
The last two parings work well enough with a strong link between the ‘Curved’
versus ‘Straight’ images. This may also have worked as a contrast if you had
stuck with the architectural details for both images.
Lastly, the story behind your final image was very interesting as the image
alone worked well and was quite abstract. The image was also a little ‘flat’
I thought in terms of tonal contrast and may have jumped out more if you
had increased the highlights slightly ? Also your writing here is relating to
technical specifics which will become more evident the more you discuss and
annotate your work EG: ‘thinking about where in the frame looks best for what
I am photographing’ translates to ‘compositional consideration’ etc.
One additional positive point to make about your work is that in most of the
images there is very little ‘dead space’, which is so often found in the early
stages of photographic practice – prior to any theoretical compositional
considerations being either learnt or absorbed. Remember that effective
photography equals Technique + Composition. Good or acceptable technique
is arguably the first prerequisite for ‘good’ photography, but this alone will not
make a ‘good’ image. Image making must be complimented by composition,
not just technique. We all use very similar technical equipment to make
images, so composition is often one of the best ways in which a photographer
can express their individuality and personal feeling in communicating their
thoughts and ideas.
Learning Logs/Critical essays
Your blog appears to be developing nicely with some interesting research and
test shots included within the various sub-sections.
You do have quite a reflective approach to your note taking which will
help you during times of self-critical evaluation. Always try to maintain
an ‘academic’ level within your writing and start to cite references [Harvard]
of what you have read surrounding the issues and practices. EG: When you
read about the work of Cartier-Bresson [suggested below] reference him in
your written work and even perhaps quote him directly. This will help when
you develop a research methodology further through the programme and
obtain the all important ‘Critical Position’, which I will talk more about.
It is so important at this level of study, for you to try and to develop your
creativity, thus the testing of any technical skills, will always be more
rewarding if you look for something that is also visually appealing and
It is also advisable to always try to keep the blog strictly to module related
activities rather than posting unrelated materials onto it. You can always set
up another blog for personal use etc.
Cartier-Bresson, H.2004:The Mind’s Eye.1st Ed. New York. Aperture Publishing
Cartier-Bresson, H.2006: Europeans. London. Thames & Hudson
Journals – Source Magazine / Portfolio
Follow Up Work
The term ‘composition’ has been mentioned in your feedback and I cannot
emphasise its importance enough at this level of study. In order to help
and support you making appropriate compositional decisions [IE: what you
choose to include and exclude from the frame, prior to taking the image]
you must closely study the work of other practitioners and in particular the
work of the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Try to understand
why his images seem to work so well from a compositional perspective.
He is generally considered a past ‘Master’ at this and has written some
excellent texts in relation to what he calls the ‘Decisive Moment’. He was
very particular with how he composed an image within the camera view finder
and claimed to always print his images ‘full frame’ with a trade mark ‘key line’
surrounding each print to emphasise this point. [See his images below] I have
listed two of his publications with the ‘Suggested Readings’ section and think
you might benefit from reading about his approach to image making, also
looking closely at his practice.
I generally recommend Cartier-Bresson to students who have completed
the first assignment and are about to embark upon the second one
called ‘Elements of Design’ as his work will inspire you in relation to this
project – you should get a lot out of it.
Also, I note from your blog that you recently attended a wildlife photography
exhibition at the Natural History Museum which was excellent to see.
Please try to attend as many photographic exhibitions and shows as you
can in the coming months. These might range from museum curated large
retrospectives to smaller group based shows held within your local area.
I can’t stress how important it is to know the photographic field and as
mentioned above, and be able to critically position your practice in relation
to this field. This is only possible by physically going out and viewing the
work, then pausing to reflect upon what you have seen and perhaps trying
to evaluate it via a short written piece. You can then include this in your
workbook or blog etc.