This is my self-evaluation against OCA quality criteria. The next tab is a copy of my tutor’s written feedback and my responses to it.
1. My evaluation against OCA Quality Criteria
1.1 Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.
This is the first time I have set up a ‘proper’ studio in my home and it worked very well; I will do this again. I had plenty of time to engage the sitter and get the lighting correct. I was looking for a bright image without a lot of modelling as this would be in keeping with the positive nature of my anti-heroes as well as being a contrast to the exterior portrait. There is some shadowing to the bottom left hand corner of some of the images but with cropping this is not unpleasant and I did not remove it in Photoshop.
I have learnt from A 1 the importance of using flash outside to illuminate the person and this worked well highlighting them, often in dull environments, against the background.
My main material was the participants who I recruited by email and then face to face. I found it difficult to communicate what I was doing particularly as I was not clear exactly where I was going. The development of the characters was more dialogical than monological and some people had lots of ideas and some few and they needed more suggestions especially about how to make their ordinary skill fantastical.
1.2 Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.
I think that I have delivered on this brief of ‘Vice versa’ with a complex diptych presentation of two images and accompanying text that makes the contrast between studio and environment and between plain and busy backgrounds in an imaginative way.
You can see that my idea is rooted in my awareness of psychotherapeutic concepts, popular culture and my reactions to both of these ideas. My starting point for this series is an exploration of ‘the shadow’ and ‘anima and animus’ aspects of the psyche is informed by Jungian ideas of persona and the hidden self (Hopwood, 2008). ‘M People’ sing about the “hero inside ourselves” but for Jung the “masculine” aspects of the psyche such as autonomy, separateness, and aggression and the “feminine” aspects such as nurturance, relatedness, and empathy, are found in most people (M People, 1998); Hopwood, 2008). With the participants I consider whether these characters are gendered or not. These attributes show themselves in the names that my anti-heroes have chosen to be known by.
1.3 Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention.
My work has a strong conceptual base. My starting point for this work was an exploration of Jungian ideas or personal ‘the shadow’ and ‘anima and animus’ aspects of the psyche (Hopwood, 2008). It is also rooted in a personal reaction to many negative aspects of ‘super-hero’ worship in film culture.
I have been able to operationalise my ideas and thoughts to make the final images. Initially I was too ambitious about the costume and staging of my superheroes which caused me a lot of anxiety and delay in producing the studio shoots, but it was reflection and time that led me to think something more subtle was needed. Even now I am not sure whether the studio shots are too obvious in their signage or lack of it or just right.
I experimented with an interior shot for the external shots but Joel Sternberg’s ‘Passing Strangers’ has been speaking to me daily from the coffee table in my lounge and I felt that re-shooting that first participant external environment would be better.
1.4 Context – Reflection, research, critical thinking.
My approach is increasingly iterative with research, thinking, planning, interviewing, shooting, review and presentation occurring in cycles and helping to improve the work.
My work is informed by other photographers such as Sternberg, Sherman and Germain but does not duplicate it.
The construction of these anti-heroes is framed within both monological and dialogical relationships with the participants (Durden, Richardson, 2000). I was (Edwards, 1990) who has applied these ideas to photographical relations where the studio “could be seen as a monological site par excellence, in contrast with those sites outside the studio where the photographer may have less authority and may have to be more responsive to the self-presentation of the subject:” the dialogical (Page 13, Durden, Richardson, 2000). This binary framework is too limiting in these relationship which grew over time. I began to realise that we did not keen fancy costumes but to show something subtle about the person with a skill (power) that they already possessed and which could be extended fantastically. (Kaufman, 2006). Cindy Sherman’s masquerades are fully costumed but does this sometimes rob the viewer of the joy of discover within a set of images (Moorhouse, 2004)? I had more control over the studio setting and helped to direct the character development and presentation but I took their suggestions while shooting and from my informal interviews. The contrasting exterior scenes were largely influenced by my choice of place to fit in with their availability but sometimes I went with their choice.
My exterior work is informed by the Joel Sternfield and his “Passing Strangers. Sternfeld, J. (2001). I wanted the person to be seen as ‘ordinary’ and to become a part of the landscape and background. The contrasting studio portrait is all about the foreground, the person, with or without signage to illustrate their anti-superpower. I experimented with gaze but really let them choose their gaze which can be to an object in the frame, internally to themselves, to another person off shot or directly to the viewer (Angier, R. (2015). I was surprised how many in this group were animated and smiled when talking. This is the anti-superhero demeanour and I deleted many of the dead pan images as they were not concordant with the people and then concept – they are the antithesis of the ‘Dark Knights.’
My presentation is informed by Julian Germain’s portfolio of work which has many innovative ways of presenting words and images; ‘In Soccer Wonderland Souvenir Stamp Album’ stands out in its combination of graphics, images and text (Germain, 1992). The text comes from my informal interviews and denotes what is happening in the two images. I tried to make the person work to find explanation of the two images. The purple frame is a colour theory choice – purple suggest regal or royal or high status.
1.5 Possible future areas of work
Not on the same subject, but I will do more portraits in my home studio on a different theme.
2.1 Link to Tutor’s feedback, my responses and changes made