Thursday, 21 April 2011

Assignment Two – Tutor Feedback

I got some very detailed feedback from my tutor on my Assignment Two submission last week.  My first reaction was a degree of concern.  Whilst he was very positive about the process that I’d gone through and the way I’d written that up in the Log, there seemed to be a few significant criticisms that made me worry that either I’d got it ‘wrong’ (not that there is a ‘wrong’, of course!) or that he hadn’t ‘got’ what I was trying to do.  We agreed that I would respond to his points and then we would speak on the telephone, which we have now done at some length.  It is really, really, useful to have someone devote time to discussing my work with me, especially to have a verbal dialogue about it.  There can still be differences of opinion and there is always bound to be a degree of tension, but I’m beginning to learn that this is part of the creative process.  To be questioned and challenged, and to need to respond with justification/explanation feels like a kind of privilege.  It gives the work a value.
So, to the specifics and what can be learned from Assignment Two:
·         He feels that I have taken the brief down a particularly challenging route by photographing ‘people eating in a public place’, which is not necessarily a bad thing but which was always going to make it hard to fully address some aspects – notably “telling moments” and “’explaining’ the activity”.
·         I’ve not done a bad job of it but, by choosing a relatively mundane activity, the ‘telling moments’ are subtle and often left to the viewer to interpret.  That isn’t a problem in itself, but it reduces the variety in my presentation and means that I have not given myself the chance to demonstrate that I can effectively direct the viewer.  Subtlety is something that I guess I would always value over the more obvious, but I take the point about the need to demonstrate a range of skills in the learning process.
·         The opportunities for ‘explaining’ are also limited by the fact that the activity is so simple and straightforward.  Again, I understand that it has reduced the opportunity for me to fully demonstrate what I can do, and it is certainly something I need to bear in mind in the future.  On the other hand, the series of images does do some ‘explaining’ about motivation, context, variety, commonality, behaviour etc, in relation to people eating in a public place.
·         There are areas where my notes might have gone further in explaining the options I had considered and rejected i.e. my decision-making, as well as the choices that I had actually made.  Some of that is covered elsewhere in the Log, but I probably need to make it more explicit in the notes with the images – maybe a less descriptive approach than the one I took here.
·         The timing, framing and cropping could have been improved on some of these images.  I do think I’ve made progress in trying think of all angles before pressing the shutter for ‘street’ images, but there is a lot to consider and some of these have people in the background that ‘interfere’ with the impact of the main subject.
·         I’ve still got some work to do on my printing, with a number of the images being on the light side when printed.  It has been useful to get a professional eye cast over them and I think there are a couple of key things going on here:
§  The need for practice and experience of looking at my own prints critically, comparing different versions, and making improvements.
§  The need to improve my Photoshop skills so that I can take the ‘soft proof’ version and work on it more effectively.
So, quite a bit to consider there, but chiefly I note again what a useful learning experience it is to have someone devoting time to a critical examination and discussion of my work.


  1. "To be questioned and challenged, and to need to respond with justification/explanation feels like a kind of privilege. It gives the work a value."

    I couldn't agree more Stan. your feedback sounds really helpful and thought-provoking.

  2. The tutor-student relationship is an interesting dynamic...intimate yet distant too. I agree it does give your work value...someone is really getting under the skin of your work and their feedback is so helpful and relatively objective. It must also be helpful to speak with your tutor on the phone to work things through. It is interesting to read about 'variety' too. And is the advice to forego coherence over variety in future. Hmm, food for thought.

  3. Well I suppose variety and coherence don't have to be mutually exclusive, but that requires a lot of skill. I think it was more a case of challenging to make sure that I had considered options and consequences rather than advising on the need to change.

  4. I found this one tough too - those "telling moments" are open to interpretation! Things that I found telling were dismissed by my tutor as being some of the weaker ones. Maybe I was just making up stories?

    Anyway, as long as we learn...