A 1: Tutors comments, my responses and changes

1. Tutor’s Comments 

Feedback on assignment

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

Firstly, I would like to commend you on your working process.

I have enjoyed looking at your thorough and methodical as well as reflective and analytical process. Your work is clearly rooted in an iterative process of practice and theory. I heartily recommend you continue in this vein.

Your section titled ‘Preparation’ I found particularly engaging. From the analysis contained within this section I am led to recommend researching A Stranger Passing by Joel Sternfeld. If you can get hold of a copy of the book you will be able to look at his photographs of people he met on the streets of NYC as well read the essay at the beginning of the book which contextualises the work. His photographs have a look and feel of Sander’s. They are indeed a contemporary typology of people on the streets of a major American city.

I very much enjoyed your analysis of the notion of the ‘stranger’. Your initial theoretical engagement with Marotta and Bauman is relevant. I also suggest the book They Must be Represented by Paula Rabinowwitz. She examines the notion of the ‘Other’ in terms of the politics of representation. Additionally, I recommend Mark Durden’s book Face On: The Photograph as Social Exchange. I’m sure you recognise his name from the Photography Matters Conference. This book, which is edited by Durden, explores the power struggles at play during photographic portraiture. It is a short collection of essays. It is a must read for any critically engaged portrait photographer. It will change the way you think about photographic portraiture. I think you will also find many a parallel with the patient-GP relationship.

I am particularly drawn to the images and words on coloured backgrounds on your Draft for OCA Peers page. Are you aware of the portraits of Karen Knorr? Do have a look at her series Belgravia (1979 -1981) and Gentlemen (1981-1983). These are wonderful black and white portraits of London’s elite accompanied by the subject’s words. I think you will enjoy these portraits. They are wry and speak loudly of a country, and particular group of wealthy people, in 70s/80s Britain. In addition to this the juxtaposition of text and imagery (the layout) is worth analysing.

From Karen Knorr’s series Belgravia

There are a number of other photographers – Les Monaghan, John Kippin, Jim Goldberg, Victor Burgin etc., who use text and photographs successfully to make political points. You should research and add their work to your website to demonstrate that you are looked at their work in relation to your own developing ideas/visuals.

I very much like the coloured backgrounds that you are using. Perhaps you could experiment with the NHS brand colours? This may draw further attention to your claims about the commercialisation of health. Do also experiment further with your text (font choice and placement). What happens if you use the NHS font? This may of course, be too literal. It is certaining worth exploring though, before discarding as an idea. I suggest moving your text further down – it currently sits too close to the top of the coloured box. It is also too close to your image.

I recommend rethinking the use of the word ‘stranger’. Stranger may just have been the starting point for this work. It may still seem appropriate if you are photographing people (strangers) in the hospital car park however, it looses its relevance when you photograph people in their own homes. They are no longer strangers. The essays in Mark Durden’s book Face On: The Photograph as Social Exchange will help you here – context and setting changes perception and meaning.

I find the use of money within the images too literal. I recommend reshooting the portraits without this gesture. If you use the text, you have all the details about money in there.

To enhance this work I think you could either, photograph people in the car parks as strangers (almost like a Vox pops). I recommend a typology. Use the work of Joel Sternfeld to guide you – perhaps think about full-length shots so we can look at their body language or ¾ portraits (see the framing of James Tye’s boxer portraits). No acting or gesturing or smiling (serious portraits). The stranger element will still have relevance. Or, if you prefer to photograph your subjects at home, I suggest you loose the notion of the stranger. Also, avoid using the money, gestures or smiles. I say this as it creates a mask or a barrier. What happens to the portrait once your subjects don’t have anything to hide behind? The interesting thing about art photography is how the subjects pose. How they negotiate themselves in front of the camera. According to Roland Barthes, a photographic portrait is composed in relation to a complex interplay or power, positioning and performance between photographer, subject and audience. As Barthes notes in his 1980 book Camera Lucida:

 ‘Four image-repertoires intersect here, oppose and distort each other. In front of the lens I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art’ (Barthes, 1980/2000:13)

Your work should be at once an engagement with photographic portraiture and an engagement with the commercialisation of health.

Coursework

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You have engaged with the exercises and produced some interesting responses. I am particularly impressed by your critical engagement (i.e. psychoanalytical framework for exercise 1). You have clearly benefitted from undertaking the EYV course.

Your NHS typology is also very interesting. There is a lot of mileage here. Particularly as you conclude that there are a number of images that are missing – suffering, distress etc. Perhaps this is something you could take forward and develop into an assignment response or a personal project.

In relation to the images you found of politicians, I recommend reading Roland Barthes essay Photography and Electoral appeal, a critique of portraits of politicians which, can be found in his book Mythologies.

I very much suggest looking at the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher and add this to your blog. I think you need to demonstrate that you understand the basics of the photographic typology in terms of its history and approach. It can usually be delineated into rigorous frontality (you picked this up in the work of Sander), a variety of examples of types, encyclopedic in nature, objective, and the key feature is consistency (angle of view, depth of field, etc.) Perhaps add this to the beginning of your response to the exercise then move onto your sophisticated, thoughtful and non-typical response.

https://drgsiandp.wordpress.com/photographers/bernd-and-hilla-becher/

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You have undertaken some solid initial research. Your research combined with your analysis of it has led you to some interesting places.

Do ensure you are looking at books – the Internet is a limited way to do your research. That said, there are some excellent online ressources such as the Tate’s website, www.americansuburbX.com

www.1000wordsmag.com

www.seesawmagazine.com

www.photomonitor.co.uk

www.lensculture.com

Any many more

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your log demonstrates some solid research and analysis in relation to exercises, assignments and extra curricular events. 

The layout and navigability of your blog is good. It contains a clear and simple menu structure is – assignments, exercises, etc., are clearly labeled as such.

Please continue to use the your learning in the way you are.

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

Please refer to the photographer and books peppered throughout the feedback above.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment 

  • Vice Versa – explore themes covered in part two of the curriculum (street/studio)
  • Five photographs
  • Themed body of work – I am enjoying your capitalist critique
  • In terms of project development do carry on in the same vein as assignment 1 – note your ideas, do some research, shoot, reflect, edit and start the iterative process again. Remember each iteration should lead you to the next until you reach a point where you are ready for some tutor feedback – submit as assignment 2.

Please inform me of how you would like your feedback for the next assignment: written or video/audio – I am happy to give you a Skype/Face time/Google verbal feedback for assignment 2. After you have submitted your work, and I have reviewed it. We can arranging a time where we can chat for 30mins. Let me know if you would like to do this. If not, I can provide written feedback

Tutor name Moira Lovell
Date 6 September 2016
Next assignment due 8 November 2016

2. My responses

Feedback on assignment 

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

From the analysis contained within this section (A1 Prep on the ‘What is a stranger?’) I am led to recommend researching A Stranger Passing by Joel Sternfeld. If you can get hold of a copy of the book you will be able to look at his photographs of people he met on the streets of NYC as well read the essay at the beginning of the book which contextualises the work. His photographs have a look and feel of Sander’s. They are indeed a contemporary typology of people on the streets of a major American city.

I obtained a copy of this book and my review and notes are on another tab. It is brilliant and informs some of my A2 work.

I very much enjoyed your analysis of the notion of the ‘stranger’. Your initial theoretical engagement with Marotta and Bauman is relevant. I also suggest the book They Must be Represented by Paula Rabinowwitz. She examines the notion of the ‘Other’ in terms of the politics of representation. Additionally, I recommend Mark Durden’s book Face On: The Photograph as Social Exchange. I’m sure you recognise his name from the Photography Matters Conference. This book, which is edited by Durden, explores the power struggles at play during photographic portraiture. It is a short collection of essays. It is a must read for any critically engaged portrait photographer. It will change the way you think about photographic portraiture. I think you will also find many a parallel with the patient-GP relationship.

Notes and comments on both of these books are on my photographer link.

I am particularly drawn to the images and words on coloured backgrounds on your Draft for OCA Peers page. Are you aware of the portraits of Karen Knorr? Do have a look at her series Belgravia (1979 -1981) and Gentlemen (1981-1983). These are wonderful black and white portraits of London’s elite accompanied by the subject’s words. I think you will enjoy these portraits. They are wry and speak loudly of a country, and particular group of wealthy people, in 70s/80s Britain. In addition to this the juxtaposition of text and imagery (the layout) is worth analysing.

I have looked at this work and notes are at this blog link. https://drgsiandp.wordpress.com/photographers/karen-knorr/

There are a number of other photographers – Les Monaghan, John Kippin, Jim Goldberg, Victor Burgin etc., who use text and photographs successfully to make political points. You should research and add their work to your website to demonstrate that you are looked at their work in relation to your own developing ideas/visuals.

It was extremely helpful to look at these photographers and my notes are on the following tabs. I am currently doing a typology of the relationship between text and image and this has added to it greatly. I also looked at Julian Germain who I am a fan of but that post is not complete here as it is embedded in my typology draft.

https://drgsiandp.wordpress.com/exhibitions-and-study-days/les-monaghan/

https://drgsiandp.wordpress.com/photographers/john-kippin/

https://drgsiandp.wordpress.com/photographers/jim-goldberg/

https://drgsiandp.wordpress.com/photographers/victor-burgin/

I very much like the coloured backgrounds that you are using. Perhaps you could experiment with the NHS brand colours? This may draw further attention to your claims about the commercialisation of health. Do also experiment further with your text (font choice and placement). What happens if you use the NHS font? This may of course, be too literal. It is certainly worth exploring though, before discarding as an idea. I suggest moving your text further down – it currently sits too close to the top of the coloured box. It is also too close to your image.

I thought that the coloured diptychs were the best presentational device when I started and still think that! I will show you examples from C+N that illustrate this. Why did I not do that? If this had been Year 3 I would have gone with my original idea but as it is not a marked assignment I wanted to try something different and I am glad that I did as I think it may be useful to present in the way that I have in the future and on my personal photographic website where I am building up a portfolio in order to seduce participants to be photographed for future projects. This approach worked in recruiting in A1 and next year I want to photograph the lives of ‘NHS whistleblowers’ where it may help me.

https://morrisgabc.wordpress.com/assignments/assignment-no-3-self-portraits/a-3-final-reworked-submission-for-exam-assessment/

 

The preparation tab for the above assignment looks at the colour theory behind the images  and the final presentation has a commentary on the colours and signs and signifiers in the images – you cannot see these in the screen grabs above.

The following is one of my many diptychs- the NHS again!

https://morrisgabc.wordpress.com/assignments/assignment-2-photographing-the-unseen/a-2-final-submission/

screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-12-30-12

screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-12-30-36

I recommend rethinking the use of the word ‘stranger’. Stranger may just have been the starting point for this work. It may still seem appropriate if you are photographing people (strangers) in the hospital car park however, it looses its relevance when you photograph people in their own homes. They are no longer strangers. The essays in Mark Durden’s book Face On: The Photograph as Social Exchange will help you here – context and setting changes perception and meaning.

I agree with this and understand the point: one of the issues is that exploration can be wide before arrival at another place, and making clearer how that journey was made is helpful to be and you. There will be a review of this book on another tab.

I find the use of money within the images too literal. I recommend reshooting the portraits without this gesture. If you use the text, you have all the details about money in there.

I think that this was my biggest mistake. The images look and were contrived. Why did I do that? Before this module I did C+N and became ‘obsessed’ by signs and signifiers and was trying to include them in the images. I forgot that less is more sometimes and that the words can speak for the people. I also did not use a wide enough lens but as that was my first experience of photographing close up in smaller spaces in people’s homes I won’t beat myself up about it.

To enhance this work I think you could either, photograph people in the car parks as strangers (almost like a Vox pops). I recommend a typology. Use the work of Joel Sternfeld to guide you – perhaps think about full-length shots so we can look at their body language or ¾ portraits (see the framing of James Tye’s boxer portraits). No acting or gesturing or smiling (serious portraits). The stranger element will still have relevance. Or, if you prefer to photograph your subjects at home, I suggest you loose the notion of the stranger. Also, avoid using the money, gestures or smiles. I say this as it creates a mask or a barrier. What happens to the portrait once your subjects don’t have anything to hide behind? The interesting thing about art photography is how the subjects pose. How they negotiate themselves in front of the camera. According to Roland Barthes, a photographic portrait is composed in relation to a complex interplay or power, positioning and performance between photographer, subject and audience. As Barthes notes in his 1980 book Camera Lucida:

 ‘Four image-repertoires intersect here, oppose and distort each other. In front of the lens I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art’ (Barthes, 1980/2000:13)

I have decided not to re-shoot this series, at least because at this moment as I think I can learn this lesson without doing that. I also need to move on to other assignments. I may use some of these ideas in A2 where I am struggling to decide on what to do. Barthes comments (very similar to a section in Bates book ‘Photography’ which I think says even more about viewing images of people) is pertinent and reading some of the books will help me to get my head round the dynamics of photographing people. I love the quotation.

One of the original ideas in preparation for A1 was to photograph people in car parks. I was put off by the legislation that forbids this photography on hospital grounds, but I could have done that in the street – I may do that in the future. It would have been easier too. I am not a shy person so that is not the reason. I also wanted to experiment with using social media to recruit people which I think was a successful pilot which I will use again to recruit people who I am interested in talking too.

Your work should be at once an engagement with photographic portraiture and an engagement with the commercialisation of health.

I didn’t pull this off. My intention and theoretical base was correct but the practice and presentation were not there. Perhaps editing the words and contributions to fit my schema (I agree too many words on those diptychs) would help. There is a balance in making a political statement and letting the people speak.

Coursework

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity 

Your NHS typology is also very interesting. There is a lot of mileage here. Particularly as you conclude that there are a number of images that are missing – suffering, distress etc. Perhaps this is something you could take forward and develop into an assignment response or a personal project.

I am holding back a little about photographing the NHS as I have access that others do not and could do every assignment looking at aspects of it. There is also a ‘gap’ in NHS photography which I could fill.

In relation to the images you found of politicians, I recommend reading Roland Barthes essay Photography and Electoral appeal, a critique of portraits of politicians which, can be found in his book Mythologies. 

I will read this and comment on it – I have a copy of this and remember the chapter.

I very much suggest looking at the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher and add this to your blog. I think you need to demonstrate that you understand the basics of the photographic typology in terms of its history and approach. It can usually be delineated into rigorous frontality (you picked this up in the work of Sander), a variety of examples of types, encyclopedic in nature, objective, and the key feature is consistency (angle of view, depth of field, etc.) Perhaps add this to the beginning of your response to the exercise then move onto your sophisticated, thoughtful and non-typical response.

I was underwhelmed by the work of Bernd and Hiller Becher, but I understand what they have done. I think this is important work.  I have commented on their work elsewhere. (Note: July 2017 – I have seen several examples of their work now in several countries and now have a better sense of their place and ideas in photographic history.)

3. Changes made

I returned to this section in July 2017 after completing A5 to consider re-working it for assessment. I have been shooting images of hospital car parks in this last year which are largely absent of people. My practice has change to be less literal and more ambiguous in tone with ‘absence’ images which sometimes say a lot more about a subject or issue.

I accept many of the presentational ideas outlined by my tutor and looking back my decisions about shooting and presentation seem naive and poor. At the time I was trying to present my work in a different way to previous modules I had completed. I was also new to taking images ‘up-close’ in people’s homes or confined spaces.

I decided not to make a radical change in my portraits but to include most of my tutor’s comments in the re-edit. I also by returned to the draft submission to my OCA peers – my diptychs – as this was a stronger presentational device for marrying image and text than my original tutors submission.

I removed the money and parking tickets from the frame (too obvious a signifier) and used a lot less text; I still wanted to balance the image with the voice of the person. I also decided not to be as explicit in the text what the subject was about, but the title of the works guides the viewer as to the subject. I changed the background colour to an light blue NHS colour which I see often in hospital and health centre corridors. I think that this is now a more effective series.