I will continue with the format introduced for Asg. 4, commenting alongside the tutor feedback.
Received 9 Oct 19
Thanks Nick for sending assignment 5 with prints, and well done on completing this course. You have made progress through the course and this assignment shows you again engaging thoroughly with different possibilities (within each theme) of what to include in your assignment set. Great to see you refecting on different possibilities and how they sit together as you work to develop your personal approach in communicating to an audience.
Feedback on assignment
You have clearly worked hard on this assignment and been very productive. I think your approach to going out and reshooting is really positive in enabling you to collect a wide range of images in relation to your idea. Sometimes this diversity means you end up with several interesting strands which could be productively developed into different projects. There is a balancing act in terms of working between the production of a series where all the images seem too similar and a series that offers less clear framing for the work. As you progress through the degree you will be able to continue to experiment with this in your assignment work to fnd a route through.
I started responding to the feedback paragraph by paragraph, but after four, it became clear that I was just repeating myself with explanations and defences. I will limit the comments to specifics and roll the general points up at the end.
I am interested in the way, in many of your images, you are successfully exploring the human interaction with plants without human presence in the images. I think the dying plants next to the priced label of fowers and the dead fowers tied to the bollard are most successful in their regard. This makes me think about experimenting with two sets of images: one that has no physical human presence, and another where people are deliberately featured in the images. This might help you to refect on the different ways you could approach your idea. The fact that the child in the lavender is the only shot of a person feels as though it needs other images of people to strengthen its position if it is included.
I did not realise that only one image included a person until I read it in the feedback.
I think the idea of revisiting the tree and observing the different stages of regrowth and human control has potential and is an interesting conceptual brief (echoed somewhat by the lily shots). I would refect on its format in this set, and how the presentation of images and text works in relation to the other images. Could you look to build another project which documents different locations and particular plant forms and human control? I wonder if just using one image (the frst image of the 3 where the brutally chopped trunk is visible along with regrowth, or the bare 3rd image) would sit visually more easily in this assignment set?
While the format of the tree stump image differs from the others, but I think that it is important to show the three stages of destruction, regrowth and secondary destruction and rather than use up three of my ten images, I combined them and paired it with another example of plant abuse. To my mind, the pairing partly mitigates the structural objection, but the point is taken.
I am continuing with a series of tree abuse as and when I find it.
Given the diversity of images across your development work, I wonder about the inclusion of both macro shots of plants that start your set as they feel the least connected to your idea of human interaction as you write about it in the assignment explanation. There are many images in your development work that hold potential to add into the fnal set depending on how you decide to push this idea for your submission for assessment. The 21 images in your list for printing hold together well as they cover the diversity of your idea, without giving more weight to one type than another and by not placing similar images next to each other there is more visual variety. Think about how you can build on this success in your fnal assignment set, or take a more focused approach. The image of the woman building a fower/plant wall next to a ladder in an interesting shot without the human being too distracting. Or the tube station wall if you are opting for no physical human presence, as well as the dead fowers in front of the shops.
Incidentally, the flowers and produce on the wall on the food stall was entirely plastic. There was also a series on an earlier shoot of a pub bedecked in plastic flowers (fig. A1). This was the source of the phrase misrepresentation of flowers in an early version of the long project title. Unfortunately, it was not clear in either location, when photographed from a distance, that they were plastic and so the point would have been lost.
Beyond the 21 I think the wrapped trees show another interesting element in your idea, and the contrast between the green foliage and the artifcial green of the fabric makes a strong visual statement, though you may not have compositionally got what you were hoping for. I am drawn to the shot of the photographer in the lavender as it mirrors your role in the set capturing the plant life. Even the shot of the two girls taking a selfe could be included in a different version of this assignment where people were featured more prominently in the images.
1-5 General points
This was the first assignment submission with which I was anything like satisfied with my approach, with the individual images produced and with the choice and mode of presentation. I felt that I had achieved something tangible from the course. At first I found the feedback rather dispiriting but after break, pressed on with the rework.
A few comments on the feedback,
While noting my thoughts at the end of the course, I considered how my workflow has changed and stated that in future I will try to,
Work to a generous deadlineAsg. 5 Development
Work in a single format , often square …
Revisit the subject with a refined shooting plan (e.g. Barbican) or come at the subject from various viewpoints (e.g. Plants) and pursue diversity within a subject
The title of the series is, simply, Plants and the scope was to depict plants as broadly as possible, in as many of Barrett’s (2000) categories as were available and, as quoted, “bring together all the skills [I] have learned” (feedback on Asg. 4). The aim was diversity and, for example, macro shots were a valid part of that. They also suited the pairing approach.
My coming upon an article promoting image pairing (Michael Grieve, 2019) at the time I was preparing the assignment for submission was a welcome relief because I have struggled in the past to select and organise my images. While the results might be criticised, at least I now have an approach that I can explain.
Your research and images for exercise 5.2 in homage to Ilse Bing is thoughtful and detailed. The image you have created takes account of the research and analytical looking you have done. It is well planned out and is a positive outcome.
You are using your research to think your own work and to push forward your practice approach which is good to see. Continue to build research of existing artists and visual context in relation to your assignment themes so that you can refect on your work in relation to what exists to demonstrate an understanding of context.
I have found this aspect of the course one of the most useful in developing my craft. The other is being forced to photograph subjects I would not otherwise think of approaching — that has taken my work out of a prolonged moribund phase.
You have refected carefully on my feedback throughout the course and are demonstrating clearly how you are developing your journey through your learning.
This article on photographer Otto Olaf Becker is interesting in light of your chosen theme: https://www.huckmag.com/art-and-culture/photography-2/the-eerie-impact-of-humanity-on-nature-in-photos/
You might be also be interested in Richard Baker’s series on roadside memorials: https://richardbaker.photoshelter.com/gallery/Roadside-Memorials/G0000jn6Uku4Tgb0/
Becker documents “the complex relationship between mankind and the environment” (Huckmag).
Baker’s web site shows a wealth of documentary projects, including Roadside memorials from 2008.
These artists have been added to the index of photographers.
Pointers for the next assignment / assessment
Well done on completing the course, and good luck with your assessment. Towards the assessment I recommend spending some time fnalising your assignment work, reselecting fnal sets of images that best communicate your ideas and getting your fnal prints done. Be sure to label everything so it is easy to see what assessors are looking at, and I would suggest presenting the prints in a clam box or something similar. Good luck with assessment and your future study!
Comments completed [23Oct19].
Barrett, T. (2000) Criticising photographs, an introduction to understanding images. 3rd ed. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing
Grieve, M (2019) Inside Studio Stauss, British Journal of Photography. Issue 7,888, pp.89-92