Assignment 1 – Reflections on tutor feedback

I have already posted about the video conference that my tutor and I had regarding assignment 1, so this post is about my reflections on what he has said in his written feedback.

Overall Comments

You have submitted a really strong first assignment. The images although
straightforward reflect upon your conceptual concerns. Your reflective text
outlines your inspirations and demonstrates your good understanding of the
portrait and in particular the notion of ‘typologies’. Bearing in mind that this is one
of your first attempts of photographing strangers I think that you have been
successful. This assignment should help you with your confidence to take further
portraits. It is a good grounding for future assignments. Do though make sure that
you push your creativity and be prepared to experiment as you progress through
the course. Continue to apply yourself to research and reading. Presently this is very good
and it’s clear that you have great enthusiasm for the contextual concerns related
to photography practice. So, continue to apply yourself during the next assignment, remain focused and be prepared to spend some time with your camera exploring.

All good so far. I can see what he means by pushing creativity and experimenting in this module, as it would be very easy to make all my work about pretty pictures of people. As we discussed yesterday, the work should be about placing people within their environment, the Place part of the module being as important as the Identity.

Feedback on assignment

• You have successfully completed the assignment
• Your submission fulfils the assignment brief
• The portraits are direct and based on a sound idea
• The images are enhanced with the information
• It’s a quirky idea, fun and reflects the sitter’s stance
• They do follow in the tradition of typologies
• Based on sound research and historical perspectives on photography
• A good introduction into producing portraits
• In future make sure that you take control of the sitter
• You justified your contextual concerns here
• Keep on practicing taking portraits

Again, mostly good feedback. The concept of taking control of the sitter had not really entered my mind before this week, and I agree that in my next assignment, I should be more directive about how and where they should stand. I’m finding the relationship and power bias between the photographer and sitter very interesting, and thinking about it, in my recent exercise 2.1, I did not offer the sitters the opportunity to choose their own favourite from the series I took – I made the decision  on their behalf, and in future, where possible I should involve them in the final decision process.

You have demonstrated through your research your commitment
• Your coursework will help your creativity and confidence so do continue to work
through all exercises
• Start to push your creativity, be prepared to experiment
• Try not to be too conservative, this is the time to experiment
• Keep a record of your technical process, this will help it to become second

You have evidenced excellent contextual skills
• Your research at this point is great, continue to add to your log
• Reflections are sound and offer a real insight into your concerns and conceptual
• Continue to reflect upon the artists that have inspired you
• Continue to add to your self initiated research
• Looking at and visiting exhibitions will enhance your understanding
• Reflect upon both historical and contemporary work

Learning Log
• Your learning log/blog is well produced
• It is coherent and easy to access
• The folders are relevant and support your learning
• Keep an eye on the content in each folder; tweak the content within the
assignment and research folders so it can be seen
• Your critical engagement is clear to see
• It’s great to see your involvement with external groups

So, overall it has been a good start. I now need to start thinking more creatively about the next assignment. And as a final note, my tutor suggested I had a look at the work of Bettina Von Zwehl and James Mollinson (James and other Apes). Whilst very different from my assignment and from most of the other photographers I mentioned, I found it quite fascinating. In both series, all visual clues have been removed, and so one is left with just the face (apes) and head and shoulders (Zwehl’s series). It has the effect on making one concentrate on the similarities and differences between each model. The most interesting part though was to see the two series side by side, and to see that there was easily as much variation between the chimpanzees’ faces as between the womens’. It really makes one wonder how we can assume that animals of a species all look roughly the same – they don’t, at all.

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