A 3: Tutor’s comments, my responses and changes

1. Tutor’s comments

Formative feedback

Student name Morris Gallagher Student number 513748
Course/Unit Identity and place Assignment number 3
Type of tutorial Video/Verbal Moira Lovell   

Overall Comments

Please find your feedback below set out under the usual headings. The feedback in is note form. It is in support of, and in addition to, the verbal feedback that you received on 09 February 2017.

Assessment potential  

Assignment 3

 I understand your aim is to go for the Photography/Creative Arts* Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.   

Feedback on assignment

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

You are commended for working with a recovery group.

You are commended for working with both quotes and images.

You have a series of interesting yet, conflicting approaches.

To move this project forward I suggest you analyse what is working, and what approach you wish to take forward.

Is it a participatory approach, where your subjects guide you to your subject matter?

image-3

Image No 3

“This is me all on my own before I stopped drinking…” Chris recovery group member

This is a strong image, made more powerful by the quote. The tonality, the framing is good. The bleak winter light and the empty space, supports your idea.

Or will you choose a series of images, which plays like Uta Barth, with that thing I refer to as ‘poetic ambiguity’? This is a lovely image.

a3-image-1-1-of-1

“People think that when you’re in recovery that everything’s sorted, but it’s not. It’s more complicated than that. Sometimes the way ahead is unclear and messy and not as simple or easy as people think.” Diane – Recovery group leader.

Again, the text and the image support one another. Do consider how you will present the text and the images at assessment?

Whilst images 1-4, have differing approaches, they are held together by your use of an ‘absent presence’. Roland Barthes writes about this in his book Camera Lucida. Rosie Martin makes use of this in her series Too Close to Home?

Whilst you have some lovely individual images (1-4) images. I think the strength in this work could be the recovery group and the space in which they meet. I would like you to spend sometime with Les Monaghan’s series 444 Squadron, and Relative poverty. Please look at his aesthetic approach, there are things you ‘borrow’ from here, that is, his framing, lighting and use of anonymity.

Examples of Les’s work, taken from his blog: http://lesmonaghan.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/444-sqn-6-may-2011.html

Technically, I commend your use of flash. It is well balanced. I also suggest you work with a standard lens. And, do have a go at straightening up the convex lines of the windows. The tattoo and feet of your image is soft. My eye goes to the feet of the chair in the background. I recommend reshooting.

Coursework

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You are working through the assignments, and adding your reflections on the task. I recommend using the exercises to start considering and refining your aesthetic approach to the assignment work.

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your blog demonstrates your progress through the course and your critical and analytical skills. As discussed, your layout is clear – the tabs (assignments and exercises) and the ways in which they delineate into the varying assignments and exercises are helpful. You may wish to consolidate the rest of the blog Research and Reflections etc., into a tab titled Learning Log – use this demonstrate relevant research (reading, exhibitions, conferences, study visits, practitioners work etc.,). This area will demonstrate, to the assessor, your understanding the context in which you are working, and highlight your critical and analytical skills. Of course, do continue to work in the same way throughout your blog.

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

We mostly spoke about Les Monaghan’s work, and the notion of the ‘absent present’

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

We discussed your ideas for the next assignment. You have started to explore some potential approaches.

2. My responses

Feedback on assignment

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

To move this project forward I suggest you analyse what is working, and what approach you wish to take forward.

I realise that there are two types or styles of images here; the ambiguous image aka Uta Barth and the more obvious image or images in the subject which are still open to interpretation. I realised that they were not consistent at the time of submission but I only had limited time shooting due to the terminal illness and death of my daughter. I will think about this issue but intend to reshoot the latter images and some new ones which will help. Already I can think of some good images of heroin user where judicious cropping will show the angularity and stress of his state at the beginning of recovery. Maybe a mix of abstract and people is OK having seen Les Monaghan’s ‘444 Squadron’ images today.

Is it a participatory approach, where your subjects guide you to your subject matter

Yes. This is a participatory approach where the subjects guide me. I have been recruited by the company to help the recovery group and members to take and show their own images for an exhibition in the autumn. I struck that deal last night with the director of the company! BUT I may have to present my own selections as this commission needs to be taken out of my OCA degree work so that it can become guided by my subjects. It is legitimate to present my own view here and the groups and company know that I am doing that too for exam purposes.

Or will you choose a series of images, which plays like Uta Barth, with that thing I refer to as ‘poetic ambiguity’? This is a lovely image.

I am having difficulty letting go of this image in this series but it may appear in A5 which is about being the father of someone with cancer. Maybe I can let the poignant (at least to me) image go as in truth it was intended for A5 and was taken on a motorway walkway on the way home from seeing my daughter who was in hospital.

“People think that when you’re in recovery that everything’s sorted, but it’s not. It’s more complicated than that. Sometimes the way ahead is unclear and messy and not as simple or easy as people think.” Diane – Recovery group leader.

Again, the text and the image support one another. Do consider how you will present the text and the images at assessment?

I am not sure about how to present them – the text and image have to be juxtaposed though.

Whilst images 1-4, have differing approaches, they are held together by your use of an ‘absent presence’. Roland Barthes writes about this in his book Camera Lucida. Rosie Martin makes use of this in her series Too Close to Home?

I was aware of this ‘absence’ after only one visit to the group. It is a theme in A5.

Whilst you have some lovely individual images (1-4) images. I think the strength in this work could be the recovery group and the space in which they meet. I would like you to spend sometime with Les Monaghan’s series 444 Squadron, and Relative poverty. Please look at his aesthetic approach, there are things you ‘borrow’ from here, that is, his framing, lighting and use of anonymity.

Examples of Les’s work, taken from his blog: http://lesmonaghan.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/444-sqn-6-may-2011.html

Technically, I commend your use of flash. It is well balanced. I also suggest you work with a standard lens. And, do have a go at straightening up the convex lines of the windows. The tattoo and feet of your image is soft. My eye goes to the feet of the chair in the background. I recommend reshooting.

I was aware of the convex lines on editing.

Coursework

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You are working through the assignments, and adding your reflections on the task. I recommend using the exercises to start considering and refining your aesthetic approach to the assignment work

I have done a lot of research since starting this work and am moving more to more ambiguous work that ‘says something.’

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis  

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis  

Your blog demonstrates your progress through the course and your critical and analytical skills. As discussed, your layout is clear – the tabs (assignments and exercises) and the ways in which they delineate into the varying assignments and exercises are helpful. You may wish to consolidate the rest of the blog Research and Reflections etc., into a tab titled Learning Log – use this demonstrate relevant research (reading, exhibitions, conferences, study visits, practitioners work etc.,). This area will demonstrate, to the assessor, your understanding the context in which you are working, and highlight your critical and analytical skills. Of course, do continue to work in the same way throughout your blog.    

I have re-structured my blog to clearly show my learning. I intend to summarise my learning over the module for the exam assessor.

3. Changes made

I have returned to this assignment afresh and have new motivation as I have been commissioned anew to do my own story about recovery and to help other service users to do this too. That will continue over the next 6 months.

3.1 A new shoot (and one re-shoot)

I joined the South Tyneside ‘Stride and Splash’ walk and sea splash in the North Sea. My intention was to meet with new people in recovery and to take images that help tell their story or something else about recovery. I connected with four new people and some old friends from my visits to the mutual aid group. It was an uplifting experience listening to their stories. I took images throughout the walk and also gave them to the organisers to email to participants.

My tutor pointed out that my images needed to tell more story perhaps with absences which could be revelatory or poignant. Les Monaghan’s work is an excellent example of how to tell a story obliquely. I had this in mind as I spend time with people.

When I was at the beach, with the 60 people on the Recovery Walk, I took an image of a lifeguard station which was without the crowd. This spoke to me of rescue. I am not sure if I will include it because I am keen to have people in my images. There was a lot of splashing in the very cold water, a metaphor for sins washed a way and a new start.

I was equipped with my Nikon with Nikon SB-90O flash to illuminate the person against the sea and sky. I had my camera in Aperture priority which did not work well as it would have been better to have it in Shutter Speed priority when people were splashing its the sea – many of my images were blurred. Maybe it is one of those occasions when partial automatic settings is needed. I managing to rescue many over exposed images in Lightroom. Many of the images have a narrow depth of field which is intentional. I tried to make the background as simple as possible to avoid clutter.

3.2 Contacts

A 3 new shoot

This is only a small number of the images that I shot. The photograph of the two women who are in recovery is joyful. In the frame is a person observing and smiling. This is one of their therapists. I met a young couple, who did not want to be photographed directly, who showed me the image of their baby. Both described a difficult recovery where they were just starting to have access to their baby. I agreed to photograph them with their baby in the future. I met other people who I will follow up for my longer term commission.

3.3 Choosing my final series and text

There were already some strong images and text in the first submission to my tutor.

I like the absence picture of the empty meeting room, the ‘alone’ statue with the text and the lifeguard station and I think that including these will help the series. Most of the rest of the series will be people. There is a wide variety of settings and content which I am uncertain about but I do want to tell a story through text and images about the Recovery Journey. A strong strong theme in most discussions is about restoration of relationship with children and family members after destructive drug and alcohol behaviour. I have tried to capture this obliquely as people do not want to be identified; It is essential for me to include this theme.

I think that I can present more intimate images of people and ‘absences’ in the future to show what recovery means.

My final series and notes are on the next tab