ASSIGNMENT 5 Tutor feedback

I have received the feedback on my final assignment prior to submission and it was overall encouraging but with some thoughts to consider to refine the submission set further and some issues to address from back in Assignment 4 which I know I have been avoiding thus far.

It has been great to see you improve your thinking and I feel that at the end of the course you are becoming more engaged in your studies and own photography which is great to see.  You show good progression throughout the course. I hope you feel the same!  It has also been nice to see you develop the theme of the steam locomotives and I can see an improvement in your concepts and depth as a result.

I certainly do feel that I have made significant progress over the course of DPP especially in terms of the way in which I think about developing a long term project over the length of a course rather than just over the duration of an assignment, and indeed I do feel that I have developed greater depth in the work I have offered.

Thank you for this assignment, which came rather quickly after the last one!  Make sure you give yourself enough time to ensure the work is at its best and don’t rush into assessment.

It did appear within a month of Assignment 4, but I had been shooting this for around eight months, so the concept was there as was much of the material, so after the submission of Assignment 4 the process to get to the next step was smaller than usual.  I accept the need not to rush though and the point is well made.

The best thing about this project is the personal enjoyment you clearly get from working in this theme.  It is so important to photograph something you are passionate or curious about as then you are using the camera as a tool to find out more about the subject rather than the camera becoming the focus of the assignment.  I hope you see the difference.

I think I have made progress in getting away from looking at photography solely as a technical challenge and trying to use images to deliver narrative about a subject.  The steam railway area is something I have long been interested in, and as I have said several times throughout the duration of DPP, provided what I felt was an excellent container within which to work substantially in black and white.  This I felt did allow the subject to be the focus of the project 

It’s nice to see the development of these ideas we discussed back at OCATV.  I’m glad you continued with your desire to photograph old and new in this way.  I remember the Starbucks cups and modern printed words stuck on the train, which were humorous (in a good way!) and wondered why you chose to omit them?  I thought those details did what you were intending in this project in such a lucid way that I was surprised not to see them here.  Keep your focus really tight – the old and new aspect is often not obvious in the final edit and I would like the series to be more immediately concise.

The Starbucks cup photograph was not a sharp image and I decided not to include it for that reason.  However, the modern words labelling the parts of the cab mechanism would certainly be a possibility and I have added to it to pool for final review.  The reason for omission was really that I felt the labels did not form enough of the image to drive the old/new theme, but upon reflection I think that could be levelled at a number of the final set I initially submitted.

Perhaps you are trying to do too many things by adding the people unaware as well as the old / new theme.  I would suggest removing the people unaware theme and concentrate on the old / new and base the series on that or vice versa.  Though you will get to people unaware in P&P soon enough!  I think it is very important to develop tight editing and conceptual consistency in your work at this early stage.  This will be fundamental when you develop in later modules to be able to expand your thinking whilst also retain the erudite message you require.  I recommend going out for a few more shoots with these things in mind or going through your archive and making a tighter edit based on one basic concept.

This is the key point in the feedback, at least for me.  Combining the ‘old/new’ and ‘people unaware’ themes was probably too broad and certainly gave problems in its execution due to the rarity of suitable events even over an eight month period.  It is a very valid point that I need to focus on tighter editing and be more consistent in the development of the concept I have chosen to follow.  I agree totally that it is vital to develop this at the current stage as it will be hugely beneficial in the future when longer and hopefully deeper projects are produced.  My message needs to be clear, concise and uncluttered by side elements!

The railways offer very little from now until Easter with only limited weekend activities in most cases, so further shoots in a sensible timeframe are not possible, so it’s going to have to be the course of a re-edit that I will need to follow.  I still feel an affinity for the old/new theme but after reflection I agree that I don’t have enough examples where this is obvious enough to make a strong overall set.  That leaves me with the ‘people unaware’ theme.  I agree that I will get to this soon in P&P, but it is something that I have been developing and enjoying throughout DPP, so I don’t feel any real sense of guilt in changing my final submission to this subject.

I really like the picture you rejected of the man in the hat with the digital camera and looking at the two pictures together I wonder if there is something in that.  They are quite a strong pair.  I wonder what a series of pictures of people taking digital pictures of the trains would be like?  I think it would be a really interesting take on ‘train-spotters’.  Maybe in future assignments you could look at the trend of train-spotters – such an interesting and probably under-represented / badly presented group of people.  Perhaps on current railways, in colour?

Either of the options of people unaware or old/new would allow the incorporation of the ‘man in the hat’ so that can be included as a counterpart to the original.

Expanding the images of people photographing trains would be an interesting avenue to follow  – I have a number already – and could indeed be developed into a theme of trainspotting.  Perhaps this is something I could take further in DPP although I do have a certain reluctance to keep going with the railway theme beyond DPP.

Conclusions / Pointers for the next assignment

Assessment – please include good quality prints.  I know you are capable of these so even though I haven’t seen any with this assignment I think you will be fine if you produce some of your own (to the standard I have seen of yours in previous assignments) for assessment.  Select from your strongest work and edit accordingly.  It may be good to include all of the images from ass. 5.  Present them in a good presentation box or means of a similar professional standard. 

My prints have been examined by my tutor at the Thames Valley OCA student group and I am confident that I can deliver to the appropriate standard for the final assessment submission.  I will certainly print my final selection from Assignment 5 and have already purchased a good quality A4 print presentation box to send them to OCA.

Please also note you’re re-working of ass. 4. I think this is better but it still doesn’t completely take my feedback into account.  For your best chances I would suggest a total re-working, choosing something that reflects the issues of real / fake you researched in a more concise yet simple way.  You may wish to keep it linked to the railway.  You could look at toy trains for example – as a fake version of something real but become quite real in the eyes of little children.  You could photograph them in a way that confuses the viewer of their size.  Just an example.

Finally, the troublesome Assignment 4.  I will blog my response to the is the Assignment 4 thread, but essentially I have still not really come to grips with this, largely I suspect because I was required to do something I was not enjoying!  I’ll give this some more thought and try and re-shoot something appropriate.  The tutor suggestion was that I might like to consider photographing trains and making them confusing to the viewer in terms of their size.  I have some ideas around what is almost the opposite of this and trying to photograph model trains in some way as to make them look real in terms of their size, but we will see ….

 

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