Assignment 1 Feedback and Rework

I was really pleased with the feedback from this first C&N assignment. It was a good balance of positive comments with some clear and helpful critique around improving and developing this type of assignment. Although not assessed, it is helpful to have a clear view of strengths and areas for development. As with feedback from previous courses I use different colour highlighter pens to identify the strengths, areas for development and things to follow up on.

The full tutor feedback can be found hear: §

Dear Matthew,

Many thanks for your detailed and encouraging feedback. I was pleased overall with the assignment, but also recognise there are lots of areas for improvement.

Your critique of the assignment images is very helpful and in the light of your comments I will rework the assignment.

You are right about the initial pair of images and given they are the first that the viewer sees, I am going to replace them with a pair I pondered on using in my original edit. Your comments about the majority of the images being from behind the adult is also correct. In part the motivation was to use this viewpoint on purpose. When I had my ‘stop and stare’ time in the planning phase, it was the children that trailed behind their parents that caught my eye. That said I have some different view points in the contact sheets an I will look through these again with a view to adding something different ino the set.

I am very much enjoying the reading and research element of this module and will continue to add to my blog. I am reading a lot of John Berger at present and will be adding some thoughts about this on the blog soon.

Thank you very much for the suggested reading material I will press on with part two!

Again, many thanks for your detailed and constructive feedback.

Best wishes

John

 

Reworked  Assignment

Taking on bard the issue about the initial images and to address the point raised by my tutor editing, set out below is a slightly revised set of diptychs. Making images in the car was difficult so I have made new images that locate the start of the journey for the adult and child outside the car. A minor change but one that I think adds to the narrative.  This revised set has also been printed in readiness for submissions for assessment. Although this assignment doesn’t form part of the overall assessment i still preferred to change in the light of tutor feedback.

 

‘Every parent’s nightmare as seven-year-old son goes missing’

A mother whose seven-year-old son went missing for more than seven hours has described how she feared she would never see him again.

Eastern Daily Press January 2014

    

   

   

    

    

    

    

Heimr- Matthew Broadhead- BJP August 2016

Heimr

Copyright Matthew Broadhead

Matthew Broadhead’s strangely compelling work ‘Heimr’ uses a mix of landscape images explore the intersection between place, ideas, objects, history and philosophy. Travelling to sites in Iceland used by NASA and identified buy the US geological survey in the 1960’s to assist space scientist understand alien worlds.  His work explores the concept of space from a number of perspectives. He appears to be linking a interests in geology, philosophy and belief systems. The title Heimr, comes from an old nordic word for ‘world’.

Broadhead is a recent graduate from the University of Brighton and this project is developed into a photobook. I came across the work in the most recent edition of the British Journal of Photography and see it as part of my survey of landscape photography. I think these images ask the view to think about the remote, about other worlds but also about the world around us. It is hard to put a definitive description of the  work but I am intrigued by it and will return to again after some further reflection

References

Broadhead, M. (2016) British Journal of Photography (pp25), Issue 7850, August 2016

Artists website found at: http://www.matthewbroadhead.com ( Accessed July2016)

Assignment 1 – Submission

Introduction

After some initial planning and reflection I settled on the theme of:

You could interpret this brief by showing the same scenario from two different angles. Does this alter how we read the situation?

As I developed the idea I focussed on two core elements to my interpretation of the assignment expectations. The first is the notion that I had observed a number of parents and families at times ignoring, indeed quite oblivious to their children, whilst out and about in crowded places. A more detailed description about how arrived at this theme is set out in the Assignment 1 planning section of my blog which can be found here.

The second element is the idea of viewpoint, a notion explored in the course materials, particularly with regard to reportage and the preposition that within a reportage approach, as distinct to a documentary approach, images may offer the viewer an ‘insiders’ view of a place, situation or theme.

With this in mind I constructed a set of parallel images showing a short excursion into the city, seen from a child’s perspective and from the parent/adult perspective. I tried to record the same sense of place but from two similar but fundamentally differing view points. I made around 400 images over a two day period, then progressively edited them down into a final set.

The adult/parent viewpoint was relatively straightforward in that I photographed scenes and locations with the camera at my eye-level. For the child view point images I wanted to ensure a degree of consistency and authenticity. To try and achieve this I used a camera with a rotating LCD screen and made a ‘plumb bod device to maintain the lens of the camera at a consistent height. To decide on the height I looked at images of my daughter when she was around six years of age and measured the height of her eyes above the ground using reference objects in the old pictures of a known height. I made a plumb line with a weight at one end that is attached to a threaded bolt which was in turn connected to the tripod socket of my camera. Not an exact science but it allowed me to maintain some consistency in the viewpoint of the child I was trying to convey.

Both sets of images I believe show a truth and document a series of events and places. I considered presenting them separately, but I liked the idea of a set of diptychs, which allow the viewer to see both viewpoints simultaneously. I think the images together do create a sense of separation between the two view points and I tried to capture parents with their children in some of the images, in particular parents aware of and interacting with their children. To heighten the tension and the sense of separation between the two view points I found a range of quotes from newspapers about children who went missing. Starting the sequence with one of these quotes I think significantly influences how the viewer reads the set and its narrative.
I have reflected on the question: ‘Does the viewpoint alter how you read the situation?’ I genuinely think there is a discernible difference between how each viewpoint tells a story and I think this has been prtially successful in my assignment. I realise this is because I am alerting the viewer that one of the viewpoints is that of a child and the images suggest a parent that is oblivious to their child’s presence, preoccupied perhaps with the tasks of the excursion. I realise I am manipulating the viewers interpretation, but story telling is a mechanism for manipulating a reader or viewers thoughts and feelings about the work.

As with much of my OCA work to date I think my ambition for the set is not quite realised by the final set of images and I did struggle with the final selection and keeping within the prescribed limit for the number of pictures. The idea of viewpoint and its influence on narrative is an idea that having started to explore I will work on more as I progress.

Technical Information

All of the images were made using a crop sensor camera (1.5x crop factor) with an 18mm focal length prime lens, giving the equivalent field of a 27mm on a 35mm frame. This gives a 66 degree horizontal field allowed me to manage the pictorial elements in each of the frames which in turn I used to create the sense of narrative. The images were recorded as RAW files, processed in Lightroom then converted to Jpegs, 1500 pixels on the long side and in Adobe (RGB) colour space. A second set was made ready for sending to a commercial printer as TIFF Files in SRGB Colour space and the the files size specified by the printer.

 

‘Every parent’s nightmare as seven-year-old son goes missing’

A mother whose seven-year-old son went missing for more than seven hours has described how she feared she would never see him again.

Eastern Daily Press
January 2014

Images in pairs


jewels-a-0338jewels-a-0310

jewels-a-0091jewels-a-0092

jewels-a-0084jewels-a-0082

jewels-a-0127jewels-a-0155

jewels-b-0064-copyjewels-a-0062

jewels-a-0171jewels-a-0199

jewels-a-0074jewels-a-0066


Full submission to tutor:

C&N Assign One Tutor Submission-PDF Final

Self Evaluation

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I have sought to create two clear and different viewpoints in this set of images. I have considered the technical aspects of this assignment and decided on a consistent angle of view through the use of a prime focus lens for all of the images in the set. I thought carefully about how I could achieve a degree of authenticity for both of the viewpoints I was seeking to demonstrate and I have found a technical methodology, all be it not so elegant, to achieve this. In addition to the attention to view point I have considered the visual elements in each of the images and their signifiers. In several of the images, from both the child’s and the parents viewpoints I sought to depict parents engaging with or at least being responsible for their children. There is observational awareness demonstrated in the images and the contact sheets show the range of viewpoints and differing compositions that I experimented with before deciding on a final image. In terms of design and visual construction, I did try to find common reference points between each of the two perspectives, in each of the diptychs. Reviewing these I recognise the use of a visual element ,such as the table in the final image and the M&S shop front in the penultimate image, is a strategy that has worked better in some images than others. I like the idea though and will explore this further in my own work.

Quality of outcome

The images are clear and tell a story from two perspectives. There is always room for improvement and looking at the final set there are things I would have done differently, particularity with the parent view point set. To create the illusion of the viewpoints being simultaneous the best way to do this would be two photographers and two cameras. My images are therefore to some extent a compromise in attempting to achieve my desired outcome and there are several of the images where consistency in viewpoint is a little tenuous. I do think the overall effect is however to offer the viewer two distinct viewpoint, attenuated through the thoughts provoked by the opening quote in the set.

Demonstration of creativity

It would be true to say that there was an element of staging to this work and it built on a concept that I think was worthy of the expectations of the assignment. Although I could stage manage some aspects of each image I was also making the work on the street in real time with some elements that I could not control. I think this tested me creatively in that I still needed to ensure there were common elements in each of the pairs of images to give the illusion of simultaneously different view points. This work did take me out of my comfort zone and the device I used for the child’s viewpoint drew attention and comment. I think it did increase my confidence because after the first reactions to what I was doing I ploughed on and did not let the attention distract me.

Context

This set of images grew out of a wider set of thought processes and reflection on the content of section one of the course. A more detailed exposition of my thinking can be found on my blog. In short though I experimented with the idea of a narrative with some tension created by an opening statement. The two viewpoints present in each of the diptychs have a reportage quality but combined I think they create the sense of a documentary all be it a short and simple one. I am struck by a statement I recently read by Stephen Shore (2007) which resonates with my thinking about how I went about this assignment, Shore suggests:

A photographers basic formal tools for defining the content of a picture are vantage point, frame, focus,and time. What a photographer pays attention to governs these decisions”

In this assignment I believe I have payed close attention to each of these variables in an attempt to create some coherence to the set. That said, vantage point using Shore’s terminology, was the overarching anchor to this work and to some extent governed all of my creative and technical decision making. The idea of viewpoint, or vantage point which I am interpreting as the same thing seems to me to be central in documentary and reportage image making. The creative photographer is perhaps someone who experiments and explores a range of vantage points and exploits this ‘tool’ to tell a wider, more detailed and revealing story. I must also add that whether the story contains truth, is ultimately about the motive and intent of the image maker

Summary

I believe I have responded to the brief and produced a set of images that has some coherence and a narrative thread that runs through it. I have also applied thinking to the assignment that has built of the material in part one of the course. In particular the analysis and reflection on documentary, reportage and photojournalism. The work which is documentary in overall nature, provides some insight for me at least in to the difference between the generic notion of documentary as a record of something and reportage and its ability to offer an ‘insiders’ view. That said the work only really scratches the surface of the concepts explored in the first section of the course and I recognise that achieving a truly satisfying response to the brief will require further research and practice. I feel this is an OK start though!

References

Boothroyd, S. (2015) Context and Narrative, Open College of the Arts, Barnsley

Shore, S. (2007) The Nature of Photographs, Phaidon, London