OCA Feedback on my First Assignment

I received my First Assignment feedback from my tutor, Peter Haveland, a few days ago. His remarks were extremely encouraging, giving me a bit of a boost; much needed as life is extremely busy at the moment. Not only am I working full time (in a very busy job), but I am also studying for a Masters degree in Human Resource Development & Performance Management (part-time with the Centre for Labour Market Research at the University of Leicester), on top of my OCA degree studies. Time really is at a premium (nobody can ever accuse me of ineffective time-management).

Anyway, to the photography. I submitted an assignment, looking at Gestalt's theories of composition, which I found extremely useful. Throughout my study of photography I have immersed myself in the value of composition (especially when I first began taking photographs), so this was a timely reminder of how it all really fits together. Peter commented that I had a tendency to overuse the 'angled camera' in my image taking, and for the images that I submitted for the assignment (6 in total), he has a point. Taken as a single set, it can easily be misconstrued that I take shots like this more often than not - actually, this is not the case. These images were selected from many dozens that I took during a single photo-shoot (a wedding), during which I took a wide selection of 'standard' and more 'artistic' images. I should have been more careful in how I displayed this particular set to my tutor, and it is a careful learning point for the future. He gave some useful advice on cropping in order to make the images better; however, I am trying (more and more) to get the image right 'in camera', and ensure that the need for cropping is minimised; the purist in me wants to keep the shot as original as possible, so more thought goes into taking the image itself, rather than to the post-processing. I am not averse to cropping to improve an image, but I would rather do it as a last resort.

Peter also discussed my choice of a major project (Workers) and suggested a variety of photographers, whose work would be good to look at in this category, not least of which is Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange (and other FSA photographers), as well as the likes of Bill Brandt and Jacob Riis. I am very familiar with the work of these photographers (and others of their ilk), but it will be useful looking at their work in light of my own project. The debate on 'black-and-white or colour' is a fascinating one, and one that [strangely] I have never given any major thought to. For example, the way that colour (or black-and-white) changes the way an image is interpreted is quite a remarkable eye-opener for me, and I find myself almost embarrassed that I have never considered it in any depth before. Of course, I have always debated whether one of my images looks better in colour or black-and-white and have changed it accordingly, but I have never really took the time to fully experiment with tone, contrast, narrative etc within the black-and-white medium. As such, the images that I have taken to date for my major project, I am going to work on in both colour and black-and-white and analyse the differences. I am looking forward to seeing the results.

All in all, I am very happy with the encouragement received and will be working to get my next assignment in by the end of November.

Dryden Goodwin - Cast Exhibition

Dryden Goodwin's exhibition - Cast - at The Photographers' Gallery is a superb example of how the interrelation of different visual media can be used to explore themes and ideas. The photography itself depicts strangers captured in moments of contemplation in London, with expressions that implore you to enter their heads to try and decipher their thoughts. The etches drawn into the images by Goodwin seem to depict this need for clarification of his subjects; to try and understand through his own caressed contemplation what is going through their mind.

The exhibition was quite enlightning for me in that I have been experimenting over recent months with the interrelation of drawing and photography, and whilst I knew that many artists have also explored this relationship, this was the first exhibition that I had seen that connected with what I was also trying to do. It is an area which I intend to explore further, and the exhibition has inspired me to not only look further into Goodwin's work but also that of other likeminded artists.

An example of a piece that I did last year (which I shall post once I photograph it) is called 'It's In The Eyes'. This was a self-portrait (4 portraits within a revolving circle) inspired by the Venice Carnival, exploring the 'Mask' as the key to a hidden realm of feeling and emotion. I photographed my face with 4 different emotions (sadness, anger, happiness and illness) and then 'coloured' the images with corresponding 'emotional' colour (red for anger, green for illness for example). The eyes were then cut out in the shape of a mask and pasted onto a drawn face of each portrait to see whether the eyes as photographed would change the expression of the drawn face. We are always drawn to the eyes of a person, and no matter what they feel, the eyes always give away the truth.