Assignment 1: Feedback

It's been a while since I've posted, but after some internet problems, I'm back again. I got the feedback for my first Assignment last week. It was very helpful, my tutor gave me a lot of names of photographers that would be interesting for me to look into and a few suggestions for books to read. Here's the feedback:

Leonie, as you probably know this assignment has its origins in the 1920s and 1930s with a similar version being used at the Bauhaus School in Germany throughout this time. I am not sure which photographers’ work you have looked at as a reference, but some photographers from this period who are worth checking out are Alexander Rodchenko, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Andre Kertez and Lewis Hine. All of these photographers use the various contrasts in different ways and styles to produce photographs that still retain a sense of modernity. 

I do think its quite important to have a bit of historical knowledge within photography so you may find it worthwhile to have a look at other photographers’ work and put any thoughts and opinions of into your learning log. Also a good book that is a kind of an alternative history of photography, called ‘The Ongoing Moment’ by Geoff Dyer, is worth tracking down. It is a paperback so is quite cheap. I’ll always suggest photographers whose work I think may be of interest to you, but it is also worth finding out your own particular favourites and influences.

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

There are without doubt some interesting images in your first assignment, I’m not sure that you have grasped the concepts of the contrasts in a few of the pairings but that is not so critical in this first assignment. You may want to think about using a smaller less obvious camera if you are thinking about continuing with taking shots outside, and I would urge you to do so as I’m sure there will be many more photographic opportunities.

Black/White

The vertical lines of the barcode do attract our attention straightaway but also the red part of the image is quite strong and the green barrels add a complementary colour accent (you’ll come across this in the third assignment). The shot is full of interest but I’m not so sure that it fulfills the brief, similarly with the white contrast; the eye is drawn to the red circle on the bottle rather than the bottle itself. I think both images work in terms of documenting your new surroundings but are a little too ambiguous for the viewer.

Straight/Curved

The straight example is a great shot and highlights good technical skills with a high quality of outcome. These kind of images can be difficult due to the lighting conditions but here you have captured the corridor well with all sorts of straight lines interconnecting the image. I think you could say the curved shot is more circular, yes there are curves as such but the circular motion of the image is quite strong.

Dark/Light

This is a good concept to try out and here it works really well as a pair of images, the viewer is darting between both scenes looking at the actual differences between dark and light. This kind of deadpan style is used by many photographers and you may want to have a look at the work of the following as I think you may find some of the work interesting; Bernd & Hilla Becher, Andreas Gursky, Richard Misrach, Sugimoto and Joel Sternfeld.

Large/Small

This pair also work well, the huge statue dominates the frame, the point of view of the shot is good as we are also forced to look upwards in awe. The small example adds a good twist to the pairing as well as humour which I think can work well in certain areas of photography.

Diagonal/Rounded

It is good to see the diagonal contrast shot outside and highlights good observational skills, the line of kerbstones takes the eye from the bottom of the frame up to the top and an abrupt halt at the street light. The diagonal line is quite haphazard and works well with the rounded example, which is more minimal and adds a secondary contrast to the pairing. You may be interested in the work of Peter Fraser, his Everyday Icons series is well worth a look.

http://www.peterfraser.net/?page_id=13

High/Low

There is a good sense of actually being involved with this pair of images, by including your son in both of them you are portraying the contrasts as experiences, you are making the viewer aware of looking up and of looking down which I think comes across well. There is also good personal interaction in both shots which the viewer can recognize and relate to, this is worth more thought when you have an audience in mind.

Liquid/Solid

This pair are quite literal but nonetheless show both contrasts in a kind of forensic way where the viewer can quite easily compare the different forms of the water. Sophie Calle is an interesting photographer whose concepts are quite interesting, here’s a good over view of her work.

http://www.iniva.org/dare/themes/space/calle.html

Rough/Smooth

These are a really great pair, I think the combination of colour and texture combine well together. It is not so much the objects that interest us but how we can portray them as interesting images, the framing is good on both images and we look at them as photographs rather than documents of objects.

Movement/Still

This is my favourite shot from the assignment, of course it illustrates the two concepts perfectly but also moves on beyond that and no doubt would raise much discussion in a group critique. This style of photography is often described as voyeuristic although I tend to see it as more of a documentation, if you followed the shot up with a portrait of the person then it would take on a completely different context, for example. Boris Mikhailov is one of my favourite photographers and in his huge body of work, Case History, he does exactly that with homeless people.

Your blog is well designed and coming together well, keep on having a look at other photographer’s work and their ideas behind the images as I think this is an important aspect of the module. This is a good start to the course and I can only encourage you to continue working in this way.

Tutor name: Peter Davies
Date: 19/12/12
Next assignment due: 01/03/13

I can only agree with the first comment about not always grasping the concept of contrast. I did get a bit carried away in the ideas of contrast and because of that not always focused on what was exactly asked. This also happens to me when I'm doing some of the exercises and I really have to pay attention to this when I'm going to work on my next assignment. It took some thinking before coming up with the black and white contrast picture. This alone should have been a warning sign that the contrast wasn't too obvious. I just really liked the picture so much! The same thing might be said about the curved picture, and again I agree with these comments.

I started reading 'The Photograph' that was on the literature list, but hadn't been looking into other photographers' work too much as a source of inspiration. I will look into the suggested work and read more on the concepts that are taught in the next few parts and blog as much about it as possible.

I was a bit afraid that my approach to the high/low concept was a bit to simple and I hadn't thought about the fact of making the viewer aware of the experience of looking up and down. Having the viewer's experience in mind when taking photos is something that I want to explore more. 

The discussion that would arise from the movement/still picture is certainly an interesting one. Reading the chapter about Documentary Photography  in 'the Photograph' opened my eyes to the issue of the ethics that surround photographing social issues and still valuing the people I'm taking the picture of.

All in all, this assignment was a great start to a course I've been enjoying thoroughly. Can't wait to get more work done!