Saturday, 6 July 2013

Exercise - revisit your first assignment

For this exercise I had to revisit my first assignment and take another look in the light of the feedback from my tutor. The task is to be handled as a photographer/client relationship would be in the commercial world. I am quite pleased to have this task as I had already decided that the assignment needed more work. I didn't feel that I have achieved my original goals or expectations and I've already posted about this earlier in my learning log:

It has taken me a while to catch up and report my tutor feedback for this assignment. On the whole the feedback was positive with special mention of the constructed image using my kitchen window and partner, plus the image showing the base of the electricity pylon. My tutor notes that I photographed a quite narrow slice of the town that I live in and from quite a subjective viewpoint. He wonders what relationship the new development has with the older part of the town and suggests investigating the archive.

Soon after I'd posted off the assignment I had realised that the set of images hadn't quite come together in the way I wanted them to - there was some element missing that I couldn't quite put my finger on. With this in mind the feedback has sent me on an interesting train of thought and has helped to clarify my thinking. I have a few ideas up my sleeve to expand the sequence with consideration to Keith's comments and I hope to start making some new images to add to this set to be ready for assessment by March 2014.

I re-read my tutor report and made some notes and sketches. I needed to show the development in the wider context of the town without breaking away from my initial concept. I plan to walk over to the field opposite my house where I know I will be able to photograph the development showing both the rural and new build aspect. There is also a shot I want to include of the original farmhouse. Finally, I want to show some of the town on the distant horizon across some fields or at the end of a long dual carriageway. So, I have a revised plan I just need to go out and re-shoot some more images. I've also had some inspiration for a personal narrative portrait but I am not sure how well it would fit into the sequence.

My new notes and sketches:

Edit 6th July: 

I've now made some of the images that I referenced in my notes. I've left out the town shots and just added images that link the development with the former farm site. I felt to cover the other areas would have been too much information to take in with the number of images allowed. I'm pleased with how they turned out although incorporating them into my original sequence is difficult. I think the main problem is that my research into the former Brisley Farm has thrown up some new leads and ideas for a different take on my project. The danger is that I have too many themes running together and the whole will not be strong enough. I've decided to print out all the images into small contact prints and arrange them on my table to find the right sequence. Until then here are the new and original images in a rough sequence but it is by no means finalised.

My new images are more formal in their framing and composition. This is a move away from the tilted diagonals that I initially conceived of for the assignment. I've also not stuck to the concept of photographing from the perspective of the ground. In hindsight it is not always a good idea to slavishly stick to one creative thought. The mixture of tilted horizon images and more formal compositions in the new sequence now provide variety. What I'm not so sure about is have I watered down my original design concept? As I mentioned earlier I will think on this before I decide which is the better approach for me.

The changes have affected the finished product because the focus has shifted from one that was very personal (the development from my personal perspective) to one that has a wider appeal. I have text to go with these images that I have gleaned from the local archive and envisage the final product to be produced as a photobook. I'm holding off completing this until I have finalised the images and completed some of the exercises on page layouts in the next section.

Edit 16th Aug:

I've spent some time with the images and the new sequence. Thinking about what I want to achieve with the set I've decided some extra shots are needed. For this assignment I've played around with the concept of private/public spaces and tried to convey a sense of the residents living in their own personal community/family bubbles without much interaction between the larger community as a whole. My personal take on this has changed and some of the alcohol/bottle references have been removed. By reflecting on the feedback from my tutor I have followed a different path that has opened up the sequence to a wider interpretation. I'm now trying to show a more general sense of isolation. Juxtaposed against the visual narrative I have text from my local archive research - again, inspired by a suggestion from my tutor, Keith. I'm hoping that the text (that relates to the history of the site before the new housing development) will provide an interesting juxtaposition with the images.

Now that I think I have the final sequence ready I need to get on and think about ideas for a layout for the proposed photo-book. Keith has asked to see a draft copy so I've just signed up to Adobe's Creative Cloud to get access to InDesign.

The new sequence including new images:

Update 21st August:

I spent yesterday morning using the microfiche at the library in Ashford. I needed one last piece of information to go with my images for the Blurb book I'm putting together. I managed to find it thankfully. One of my images is of the Brisley Farmhouse front gate. The house sits on a small lane to the side of the new development before the farm land was sold for new housing. The image is used in my sequence to represent not only the farmhouse but also the old farm cottages too.

By doing some Internet research I came across a reference to Doris Billingham, aged 15, who lived in Brisley cottage with her parents. The information I uncovered related that she died in a factory accident in 1942. It didn't say much more than that so that is why I was searching through the local newspaper archive. I knew that she had died in hospital in Ashford the same day as the accident so I had a date to go on. I was curious to know what kind of accident had happened and assumed it was something to do with factory machinery. I had wondered as it was wartime whether that had played any part but the word 'accident' seemed to point elsewhere. An article titled "Funerals of Raid Victims" caught my attention and I found a reference to Doris. She had been killed in a German air-raid. I'd noted mention of an air-raid in the previous weeks edition so I scrolled back on the microfiche and found the article. It hadn't been an accident at all. Doris was an office worker (presumably at the factory mentioned earlier) and whilst a number of the staff had left for lunch poor Doris and a few others had remained behind when the bomb hit.

I was pleased to have found out the correct information but felt sad for Doris. This feeling continued when I stepped out of the library and walked to the coffee shop. On such a gorgeous, sunny day it was difficult not to think about the events of the daytime air-raid on this town decades earlier.

So, with my last piece of info I finalised my book using the In-Design and Blurb templates and uploaded it for printing. Now that it is out of my hands I of course want to change it. It is probably best that it's gone. It's only a draft copy anyway that I will be sending to my tutor, Keith.

Something I read on the OCA forum has also unnerved me a bit. The students and tutors were talking about the dangers of overworking an assignment. Is this what I've done? It is possible. The work is quite different from how I originally set the assignment out. I'll have to wait and see what Keith thinks. I'm far too close to it now to be objective.

Edit: 10th December

I will be spending the month of December consolidating all the work that I've done up to assignment 4. There are various loose ends and amendments to be made to the assignment work to make it ready for assessment next year. I don't want to swamp myself with a huge workload at the end of the course. My tutor, Keith, has seen and commented on my blurb book for this assignment and he seems okay with the concept and layout. I had one image to replace in the draft version as I had stupidly used a test shot of myself in my garage instead of the correct one - no idea how I managed to not notice. I wasn't even wearing the correct clothes! There were a couple of other amendments to the text and two of the images were not quite placed correctly for full bleed but other than that it is ready to go. I'm having doubts of course. Nothing unusual in that for me. I ordered the new copy from Blurb today to stop myself procrastinating. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't upgrade my paper choice as I'd been hoping to do. The system wouldn't let me. Something to do with the spine thickness - probably too thin. There is a link to the the finished copy below.

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