Sunday, 20 March 2011

Assignment Two Feedback

Again, my tutor is very prompt with his response.  My work arrived with him Friday afternoon and by early evening I'd received my feedback on both assignments.  It saves hours of angst and anticipation yet on the other hand, you barely catch your breath.  I'm not complaining though - it's a pretty top service. I have included some direct quotes from his feedback here as they are informative and helpful for me and perhaps others.

Well, this has been a long time in coming this assignment. But length of gestation does not necessarily equate to quality of work. The feedback was generous and fair. Not quite at the standard of my previous work but given this is the first piece of work I completed with the large format camera the work was still considered to be very good and I was satisfied with his response.

There was a belter of a comment that amused my other half no end.  Unbeknown to my tutor, (or perhaps he did - very perceptive either way!), there was a self-portrait in there with my youngest daughter.  Our youngest, how can I put it, is strong-willed at best, stubborn and difficult to manage at worst.  She is a wonderful mix of boundless enthusiasm, dogged determination and independence. His comment was:
I guess the first thing one notices with parents and children is the similarities.  This could be a photo of a woman with her child-self.  Her grasp is very possessive looking, but the child’s body language speaks of the same independence that is written in the woman’s face. 
Well what can I say? There is no defence!!  My husband smiles from ear to ear with an irritating 'I-told-you-so,-she-takes-after-you' smugness.  Vindication at last. Hmmm. He's won, thanks to an innocuous comment from my tutor. How can he possibly have hit the nail so firmly on my head. Very funny!

Without photos to demonstrate, it will be a fairly dry post I'm afraid. So I'll probably come back to this when I work out why my scanner refuses to scan. My tutor wasn't sure about the long exposures with portrait work and wondered whether I should have used fill-in flash. From my point of view, this was an issue of preference and desired aesthetic and I intentionally wanted to minimise my influence in each image. Nevertheless, I would like to know how to use flash with the large format camera for portrait work in future as its damn hard getting clarity with 1 or 2 second exposures.

He was generally very positive, but one suspects he wrote this feedback before seeing assignment four, ha,ha. He's probably changed his mind now. As I'm coming to the final assignment on this course and looking ahead he suggests its time to look at 'getting my work out there, where it can be useful'. He included a lovely quote by Joseph Beuys,
Artists have the responsibility to show what they make
Which I have not done at all for some time. He suggests I need to start looking at 'promoting my work professionally', he cites Getty Images as an example and enquiring with local arts coordinators and galleries about how to exhibit my work.   It is something my husband has wanted me to investigate for some time.  His view is that by getting your work seen, purchased and commissions won, will give me the confidence to further my personal projects.  I will probably cover this in more detail in another post, but for now I admit I have been fairly reticent.

About eighteen months ago I did sign up and gain approval to submit at two or three online image libraries.  However, I quickly came to the conclusion, this avenue was not for me.  In addition after completing several commissions through friends and colleagues I found it took the pleasure right out of it.  My photography work was relegated to the status of daily chores that I had to do rather than an aspirational and enjoyable time guzzler that is right up there in terms of pleasure and personal development. Commercial photography isn't my motivator at the moment.

Exhibiting in galleries is of greater interest however. But as my tutor puts it, my work is 'an interesting collection of experiments and achievements'. What would I exhibit, as a combined mass it is eclectic to say the least.  And as individual projects, I'm not sure which to be the strongest or least flawed!!  So I will ultimately delay a little longer...but something tells me I cannot continue in this child-like 'bubble' forever...


  1. Hi Penny.
    Thanks for sharing the above. It is interesting to see how the tutors deliver their analysis and suggestions for future work. I had a few years trying Stock libraries and while a few sales were forthcoming it was sooooo boring. The QA department was so picky it drove me insane looking for dust bunnies and the file sizes had to be huge so no cropping was really possible. Then key wording, such a chore and so difficult. I know your work and you wouldn't enjoy that.
    Writing up my assignment 3 and the introduction and conclusions sound like an apology, so it's not good, but I can't redo it any more, he will hate it I know, because I've come out of the bubble for this.
    Stay in your bubble, I will.

  2. My experience of stock libraries is pretty similar and really not worth all the effort. I think my motivations are not driven by monetary reward. As per quote, artists have a responsibility to show what they make, but it is the making and creating that I enjoy, as yet, the 'showing' is something unexplored. I don't feel accomplished enough, but may be you never do. I also think where you place your art has a 'major' impact on the way it is received. I will discuss this in a post later but where you hang your art must effect how it is received. For example, hiring a village hall and hanging your art up will generate entirely different responses to if they were hung next to other similar art in a gallery renowned for whatever...I think what I am saying is I'm not sure my photography has wide appeal or who my target audience would be. And there are so many great photographers out there, it feels sort of at capacity.

    I suspect with your assignment three you are your harshest critic Nigel and your fears won't be realised. However, if it helps, in some ways it is also somehow very liberating to get it wrong as I did with assignment four. No one likes criticism, but I'm sure it informs your work as much as the successes.

    I'm with you in that bubble wishes with assignment three. I hope it goes well.

  3. So right Penny. There are some folk who I would never show my work to, simple because I know its not for them. My book "Biniarroca" was produced for a particular audience and when shown to people outside of that "set" it goes down like a lead balloon and it becomes awkward when I have to start explaining it to them. This need for explanation, is that our role as the provider of a piece, or someone elses ?

  4. I'm the same as you. I'm selective what work I show which people - silly really, but you feel foolish if they really don't get it!! And unfortunately most of my recent work stays tucked away!!

    I guess one of the disadvantages of long distance learning is we will have to second-guess what the best outlets for our work will be and what previous students have done. We maybe need to have a brainstorm on flickr at some point as to how we go about it. Another query in my head is do you wait until after the course when your work has matured, or get your work out there now while it is still developing - in some ways that could be counter-productive. So many questions and no answers...

  5. Perhaps we will be one of those photographers that we read about in the BJP, who 50 years after their death become famous because the work was kept hidden during our lifetime.

  6. Now that would be annoying!!!