Assignment 5: Tutor feedback reflections

In reflecting on this fifth, and final, assignment feedback from my tutor I find I am thinking about both my latest submission and my progress throughout Context and Narrative. It has felt very different to my first course (The Art of Photography) and while it has been a bit of a roller coaster it has stretched me in ways I might not have imagined at the beginning.

When I set out to develop Assignment 5 I knew that ‘Plastic Vanitas’ was going to have a strong influence I just wasn’t sure of the direction it would take. As the research process developed and I talked with fellow students the concept became clearer in my mind, I even did a quick sketch in my notebook. My challenge then became how to execute it technically. This took a lot of refining, practice and trial and error but by the end I was very pleased with the result. It was gratifying to have the outcome endorsed by my tutor.

Very competent technical and visual skills…The images are constructed so seamlessly that they could almost be a still life and not a constructed image, really well done for making the work so flawless.

Initially I was thinking of producing one image but after feedback from the Thames Valley Photography group I decided to go for three, each working with a different set of symbols. In each I wanted to acknowledge the early tradition of Vanitas and build on it with personal and contemporary references. I was pleased to read that the thought I felt I had put into each image was observable by others.

There is a fascinating mixture of traditional symbols, personal symbols and conceptual symbols in your work, it really shows you have thought a lot about every single element of the image and they are all the more fascinating when you read the ideas behind them.

This, of all my C&N assignments, definitely felt like the biggest leap forward in terms of developing my own style and voice. Once I had got past the fear of whether I had the skills to achieve what I was looking for I felt able to develop each of the images. It did feel like I was taking a risk both in terms of the kind of work I was producing and whether composite was acceptable as ‘constructed’ in terms of the assignment brief. I appreciate that my tutor recognised I had been experimental and that what was produced was something distinctive.

You have definitely been imaginative, experimental and shown a strong development of a personal voice in this assignment…The work has been so carefully considered that nobody else could possibly have come up with the same ideas, it is very personal indeed.

Throughout C&N I have expanded the scope of my research, built my knowledge of the work of other photographers (many of whom I had not come across before), and really thought about how I want to build my practice as a photographer. I have increasingly turned to my sketchbook and tested a range of ideas which I think is reflected in the development of A5.

Very personal and reflective as well as being thorough analysis of where you were at each stage. It really feels like looking through a digital sketchbook which is great.

In the feedback my tutor did raise an interesting point about possibly developing this work, which I have thought long and hard about and talked to other students about.

I think looking at combining text with your images as a diptych might really work for this piece.

My challenge is that the images are quite dense with connotations and were not conceived of with additional text. I am not sure what text would be appropriate and as a result at this point in time I have chosen not to rework them as image/text diptychs.

Tutor feedback reflections: Assignment 4

It took some time for me to select the photograph I wanted to focus on because I knew it needed to be a strong image that I would want to spend some time reviewing. I was pleased to find Dara Scully’s work and knew immediately I wanted to look at one of her images, they seemed so multi layered. The choice of the image was noted in my Tutor Feedback.

…you have chosen a really interesting image for this and explored it and other appropriate images in an informative and interesting way.

I looked at a range of advice on reviewing visual arts and photographs and worked through a number of drafts to shape the final version, while the comparative work came later in the process I found it particularly helpful in focussing on why I had selected this particular image. I am pleased my Tutor felt this approach was appropriate.

…an interesting piece of writing relating to this image and similar and indeed very different representations of childhood in photography. Very competent technical and visual skills

I am grateful to the other OCA photography students for their feedback during the drafting process, which helped me refine my thoughts and writing. I think this really helped strengthen my writing and I am glad it came across.

Your work has shown an application of knowledge in terms of both your research and your own interpretation of this image and what it shows. … Highly effective work presented in a professional way, showing strong judgement.

In initial feedback from other OCA photography students there was some debate about the appropriate balance between personal voice and the views of others in the field. I wanted to include an auto-ethnographic element as I felt it was pertinent to both my selection of and response to the image. I took a risk in leaving in my reflective comments and my tutor acknowledged them positively.

…strong evidence of personal voice. Your own opinions on this image stand out as well as using references from other theorists to provide a grounding to your essay.

This was not an easy assignment to achieve within the word count, there was so much I could have said about this image and throughout I had a concern about whether I was pursuing my points clearly. I was very pleased that my tutor felt the review was of an appropriate standard and quality.

Very articulate and self aware, very well researched, demonstrating a developed intellectual understanding

I found this process incredibly valuable in both looking at the work of others and in taking a more critically reflective approach to my own work.