Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Preparing for Assessment – Assignment Two

It has occurred to me that, as I review and amend assignments prior to submission for Assessment, it makes good sense to record what I’m doing here and tag it to the assignment so that the assessors can complete the ‘story’ of each assignment’s development.  I will just record one thing here, first, though.  The course notes clearly state that ‘Assignment One: a portrait’ is “... not submitted for formal assessment.”  I am following that instruction and not making it part of my review or my assessment submission.

For Assignment Two I worked on a street photography series, looking at people eating in a public space i.e. all engaged in a similar activity.  I submitted twelve images and received what at the time seemed like mixed feedback.  Actually, the gist of it was probably that I had tried something difficult (matching the brief for the assignment with my own interest in doing a street project) and perhaps not quite succeeded in doing much more than making ‘a good fist of it’.  Looking back, and considering that I have subsequently, at times, made life difficult for myself by trying to follow a brief too closely, I feel that the criticism was perhaps a bit harsh – though I recognise that it wasn’t directed in any negative sense.  I think I aimed at something quite subtle, and that was perhaps, above all, where I made the task difficult.  I had researched the subject and found very little in ‘classic’ street work that didn’t take a negative angle on what is, after all, a decidedly common activity (in the sense of being frequent and normal, not ‘common’ in the pejorative sense!).  Had I set out to capture images of people with their mouths wide open at the ‘decisive moment’ when the food entered, perhaps the images would have been more obviously a match for the brief.  Looking back at a distance of more than a year since I took them, I still quite like the series; though I do accept that it is subtle and so, perhaps, lacking in impact.

There were some practical comments on individual images, which I have largely taken on board, and there was certainly room for improvement in some of the prints.  I have reworked a reprinted all of the images for submission purposes – some with quite small changes and others more significant.  One important step that I have taken is to re-crop several.  I submitted the originals in a whole range of sizes and ratios, cropping each to what I believed worked best for that individual image.  I recognise that this isn’t good practice in a series and so have essentially reduced the variants to just two – either a 3:2 ratio or square – with just one ‘portrait’ orientation amongst the 3:2s.  This is certainly an improvement.

The other significant change is to alter one of the images – the original Image 11.  I have changed this ...

... for this.

Not a particularly radical alteration, but it perhaps works better as an illustration of small groups creating their individual spaces than the previous one did.  I had a notion that the statue of Queen Victoria added some historical perspective, but I think my tutor was right in saying that it didn’t work especially well in that respect.

Street photography with a light touch may be an accurate summary of this piece of work.  It demonstrates that I have been able to find a way to create decent images of people who are, largely, unaware that they are being photographed; that I have been able to do that within the context of a particular theme; and hopefully, that I have been able to make some sensible decisions about what works best in the series.  I learned a lot, at least, and feel reasonably comfortable with the outcome.

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