Saturday, 21 August 2010

Feedback for Assignment One

Arriving back from holiday and there are a number of parcels to open, one of which is my tutor feedback. I am pleased and relieved to read that my tutor seems generally happy with the assignment suggesting it shows maturity, depth and genuine feeling.

Areas to consider going forward are the pursuit of photographing an impersonal subject and finding a 'way-in' to offer the human element. This bit I have struggled with as I need to have a genuine interest in something otherwise the results I feel are 'unsatisfying'.  I know this because I keep trying, and have a catalogue full of half-hearted images of strangers on the beach, at the circus, on their bikes but with little coherence or point!! I need to have a purpose for photographing these people, or a theme that runs through them and maybe that way I can progress it further.  For my next assignment I will tackle this, but it is something I am thinking about a lot.  Social documentary does thrive in the pursuit of the less ordinary and the visually unusual.  Living where I do and the lifestyle I currently lead, gleaning the interesting and photographing it, will inevitably create a more subtle portfolio which could easily be underwhelming compared to that of for example the James Nachtwey, Nan Goldin or Don McCullin's of this world.  Without changing my lifestyle I then feel compelled instead to alter, manipulate and creatively contaminate what I see. Social documentary focusses more on photographing the factual - I sort of prefer the fictional, the illusionary and the mysterious.  It conflicts a little with what I am trying to achieve.  I knew when I chose to do this course rather than the other level two courses that it would be the most challenging for me. My instincts and creative flare are not quite gelling with the requirements of the course. Infact it is not coming easy to me at all. This is fine and will keep pushing me to do things I would otherwise not do. I guess this is all part of the learning curve.

My tutor understood the aim of what I was trying to achieve from this assignment and said it was an excellent assignment. This is reassuring but I have some way to go before I am comfortable with things. Thank you also to Duncan Astbury, a fellow OCA student for pointing me in the direction of Tom Hussey's work featured on the PDN website who has taken an interesting slant on photographing the elderly with alzheimers.  Quite inspiring. There is another interesting video on u-tube by Mary Ann Amor entitled Alzheimers Disease photo-essay tackling this heart-wrenching disease.  I also liked the way she has presented her photo-essay.  I am unclear how to achieve this however and would like to explore this going forward. 

My tutor has recommended I purchase Magnum Stories which I have done and has already landed very heavily on the doorstep.  He urges me to see the Sally Mann exhibition at the Photographer's Gallery for a number of reasons including subject, print process and type of camera used. I would love to but may struggle to get there before the exhibition ends. I have come across her work before and will explore this further.

Reaching exhibitions and galleries is a real struggle and frustration for me.  Family commitments as well as distance and cost of reaching these venues make this aspect of my learning just about out of reach at the moment.

Anyway, moving forward, I have come back from holiday feeling refreshed to take on the daily battles.  I find currently that I am enjoying my photographic journey, with my compass bearing a little volatile and no clear direction known. In most other areas of life, everything is mapped out so it is quite liberating to not have to reach a destination so to speak.  However, I would be lying if I didn't admit to hoping that sometime soon some sort of plan, direction or conviction will become evident and that I can move forward with confidence.

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