Friday, 24 June 2011

Shut up moaning

This is the third and final draft of this post and I am hesitant to post.  It is several months ago that I wrote the first draft and it does have an air of self indulgence that I don't like. However, I'm ready to upload and move on.

I've been angry and frustrated with myself as I'm not sure how to respond to my photography at the moment.  I am very keen to put the social documentary course behind me...just move on for goodness sake!!! The course has altered and pushed my perspectives...but it hasn't pressed any of my creative buttons...and hasn't resulted in one image I feel particularly proud of...that is clearly of my own failings, not the course...but I don't like that and want to know why?
  • It isn't for the want of trying, arguably I've been trying too hard
  • I have been focussed and enthusiastic
  • I have devoted considerable time to studying and spent hours out photographing
  • I have tried to push boundaries and look differently at things
I hoped for more from me, my expectations were far greater of me. I wanted my first piece of work for TAOP to be a strong foundation on which to grow but this current course has invited me in to a direction of travel that, as an 'umbrella genre' I don't want to pursue. Again, the course was never about the course if you know what I mean, but instead to provide a means of practicing my photography in a provocative and challenging way...which it has.

  • So do I lack sufficient skill for the course?  
  • Should I have continued with the Art of Photography?
  • Should I have chosen a different level two course?

The answer is perhaps partially yes and no to all three of the above. Regarding the first question, whilst I am disappointed by the work I have carried out over the past eighteen months I do not believe I have been 'outskilled' by a level two course. The comments from my tutor would endorse this.  I have the confidence and belief that I can create better work, perhaps not within the conventional genre of social documentary. For whatever reason I have not connected with this course and/or my attitude towards it has not been good.

With regards TAOP and APEL and whether it was right for me, of course I will never know...I recall that at the time, it was a confidence boost in what was a turbulent time for me. My clarity of thought was crystal clear. I had oodles of ideas which seemed to be my way of dealing with uncontrollable 'real-life' issues- a strange paradox but perhaps there is something in that. I engaged with the course in a personal way which I have struggled to do since with the soc doc course.

The third question I wonder whether I should have selected a different level two course, one more akin to the work I had done previously such as landscape or altered realities with DPP. However again I recall not really feeling drawn to any of the level two courses.  Unlike TAOP or the level three courses they are narrowing in their subject...I prefer a blank sheet as a preference. So I opted for the most challenging for me. Which it has been. So what happens now...get through this course and take stock of what comes next I guess. I haven't quite got to the positive frame of mind yet.

Keep going.

And whilst I'm ranting, I am so tired of always feeling I haven't got the 'right' technical gear...and the cost of it all. And then each genre seems to have a completely different hit list.  I will invest when my photography 'deserves' it. I just want to take photographs not worry about 'the other stuff''s dibilitating...makes you think you're work isn't worthy or professional because it wasn't taken on the right camera or on film or wasn't presented 'right'. How long can you keep investing time and money in something when you don't get the output.

So to conclude, I've got to change my tack. I'm trying to remove myself from the computer, from the course and to alter the way I'm working because I feel as far removed from my inner creative self as I ever have...this is sad. I have contextualised my work. I have theorised and debated photography.  I have a good understanding of what is out there now.  But...none of this has assisted me in making better photographs. For me, photography has been a medium I have chosen for my creativity. My heart lies in the arts and not in journalistic photography. I hoped I could marry the two in this course which to date I haven't. So move on...I want to perservere with the OCA as there is so much about it that I like, but the genre based level two courses just aren't floating my boat. Conceptual art...where's that in the syllabus...I'm fed up with photography...I'm fed up of being fed up...and I'm fed up that my initial reservations about me doing this course have turned out to be true.

Ahem, still quite negative to post...However, here goes...following posts I promise are more positive...


  1. Get a grip Penny! It's only photography! I have days (sometimes weeks)when I get fed up with all sorts - my job, my writing, (The I can't think of anything to write about today syndrome) my inability to get my motorbike working, not having enough time, the mess my kids leave, gears not working properly on my bicycle.. you know what, so what... it's not the end of the world, just leave it alone and come back to it later and you'll probably take a different slant on things. As I said before, I got realy frustrated with my own paltry attempts to return to photography earlier in the year. I got fed up with my efforts and I got fed up with not being as good or as brave as I used to be, so I've put my camera away for a while... there's plenty more to do that I really enjoy so hey ho.

    You don't need expensive gear to be a good photographer, it's not a competition to see who's got the most expensive and latest gear, that's the preserve of the techy geeks in the camera clubs... all you need is a good eye a good eye and the ability to see a picture in everyday situations.

    From what I've seen Penny, you're a creative soul and always on the go, and probably your own worst critic too. Try taking it all a little less seriously and you'll soon find that you're enjoying it again.

    See you around Penny.

  2. Ha, I deserved that!! I am detecting from your 'sympathetic' response that the West Cumbrian directness has rubbed off on you Adey!! Sychophant you are not, lol!! Violins isn't what I was after and I agree with what you say...keeping a blog is part of the course requirements and given that my progress has resorted to that of a touring snail I thought I ought to burden you with it all!! Writing stuff down is cathartic somehow and does give you clarity of thought albeit a little self-centric!! But I take your point and await with patience for snappier times!!

    btw, your blog looks like it is going from strength to are things going?

  3. Hehe Penny - glad you didn't take offence. I've always been straight to the point, guess it's why I'm still in my job!

    thanks for the comments on my blog, it is going well, I only post when I find something new and interesting now as it gets harder to come up with new stuff so regularly, but Im averaging over 350 hits per day and almost at my 100,000th hit, so there must be other folk out there who actually want to read it - amazing.

    Re; your photography, you've probably got the photographic equivalent of writers block, so you're probably doing the right thing, doing something else then letting the creativity take its own course.

  4. Thank you for sharing this Penny. I understand very well how you feel. Having come late to the art of honest blogging myself I do find that sometimes saying things out loud is the best way to break through a block. I know that you are serious about your photography and sometimes to develop as an artist you have to face your fears. You can't learn from experiences if you don't face them and try to make sense of them.

    I'm not so sure about the benefits of having a long break as it can make it difficult to start again. I subscribe to the adage that the only way to make work is to keep turning up at the page.

    I also don't like the genre-based level 2 courses much, but I do think that you could find a way to bring conceptual work into them, essentially by deciding to do so. Why not try? Do something that really appeals to you just for fun, or make a conceptual piece that starts from the themes in the course and goes where it goes. You seem to have spent a long time pushing against your own preferences - maybe it's time now to go the other way. Believe in yourself, and don't give up.

  5. Hello again Eileen. With regards a break I do think this is true, however, creativity doesn't seem to flow in straight lines or with a steady stream for me. I personally find it gushes or there's little more than a trickle. In the drought I continue taking photos, or snaps, but the 'school work' tends to require a gushing flow for me to tackle it in a satisfactory way. With regards the course, I can see the end now, but still have a fair bit to get to the level I'm happy with. I am going to try this 'landscape' idea but keeping things simple is something I have to work harder at I think as I keep overcomplicating things. Anyway, thank you for the supportive comments, no giving up but ready for change...

  6. Hi Penny. Firstly can I apologise for not having commented sooner. I have had Blogger trouble and whenever I wrote a comment it would come up "Anonymous said". So after some googling I have found the problem, and for the record it seems to be log on first at blogger .com and do not check the keep me signed in box.
    Our blogs at the moment are so similar, a story of not liking level 2 and wondering "why" we are here at all. Lets face it we can both do photography without the OCA or the cost. There is the RPS, with its "A" and "F" distinctions, both of which would be worth trying for.
    I am ready to restart (didn’t really stop, just panicked with missing a season) and I think you will soon. It just needs time and you will find yourself thinking about it again and wanting to get finished. There is always the old "no pain, no gain" stuff and maybe thats what level 2 is for, but remember there are no marks at this level that really matter, just a pass will do. I think you are a perfectionist and that last comment will have made you think, OK but a job worth doing .. etc etc which is fine, but needs must sometimes. I found the OCA people (not my tutor, he just passed me over to HO) very helpful and very supportive and they urge me to complete the degree as they (and my tutor apparently) think I have a good chance of a good final grade. So will you, I love looking at your work and reading your blog. You certainly dont lack talent so, lets both move forward and maybe one day we will both get to the end.

  7. Hi Nigel, glad to see you around again and thank you for your supportive comments, very much appreciated. I'm sure we'll both get there eventually, but you do realise we need to do another level two course before or as well as the level three courses. So our next course choice needs to be well considered. I'm awaiting for the announcement of the new or revised courses. In terms of progress I'm hoping to complete assignment five over the holidays, I have one or two final shots for my portfolio which is likely to be Skipsea. And I have reluctantly redone a fair bit of assignment four and whilst they're improved, they're not ever going to be in the style of Levitt!!! But even for the November assessment I'll need to get a wriggle on as they need everything for end of September.

    It sounds like you're not totally convinced by the advice of your tutor...the tutor - student relationship is an interesting and sometimes distant one. In my experience, the feedback on the assignments is really helpful. But not unlike a dot to dot puzzle that has only got five numbers, the difficulty comes when there are all sorts of other dots you're struggling to join in between the five numbers or assignments!!

    Anyway, enough of of luck with the rest of this course Nigel, I look forward to seeing your progress!!