Assignment 2 : People and Activity – Response to tutor Feedback

People & Place

Assignment 2 : Response to tutor feedback

This is one comment I’m definitely going to hold on to, to keep me motivated :

 Overall this has been a successful assignment” ….I’m pleased with you getting out there with your camera and focusing on groups of people whom you don’t know.

Other positives were that there were some good prints of my final edit and the skin tones look much more natural than in Assignment 1. It was good to go through my editing process in the write-up. From the work shown in the assignment I’m likely to be successful in the formal assessment.

Suggestions on achieving a collaborative focus

I had been chatting with subjects, striking up a rapport, letting them know my motives and evincing trust so that they allow me to go about making  something interesting. However, I had commented on lack of head and shoulder shots in this series (as opposed to my alternative series at the station in Wirksworth) and the series could have benefited from a good character portrait. “…….the full-length shots suffer a little from seemingly not knowing what they want to be, action or posed”. My tutor suggests two very accurate reasons for this – not taking enough time when making them, plus a desire not to inconvenience them too much.  The suggestion here is that once I’ve got them chatting I should ask them to stand where I want, pose them slightly and then make the picture, which should only take 30 seconds to a minute and so not inconvenience them to much.

Number of images

Taking 137 photographs over the weekend is not enough given that I was shooting in reportage style. More, possibly double this would allow more choices.  I think what’s happening here is that I’ve been influenced by all those articles/comments which say that if you’re making good photographs you shouldn’t need to take a lot.  I realise I’m really putting the cart before the horse here because my photographs aren’t good enough for that attitude yet so I’ll just have to keep on taking lots of them!

My editing process

The editing lets me down a bit from a professional standpoint. Two of the photographs are basically repeats. The young man on the shed is in the group photograph and then I have two close-ups of him doing the same activity (laying the roof). It would have been better to have left the first one in my contact sheets (where he semi-posed and smiled).  In fact, I was going to leave it and only included it at the end because I had to exclude one of another subject wasn’t good enough.   What I could have done was to wait until later and take a shot of the young man when he was used to my presence and doing something else.

Another man in the group shot is hoeing and then I have him doing the same thing in an individual shot. My tutor doesn’t see that as a problem as they are very different photographs but  he comments that if I was doing a piece for a local magazine or paper then they wouldn’t want to run two pictures the same, but would want both to be shot so they could choose one of them.  Do you know that’s something I was thinking during the editing process – “If only I could just give the contact sheets over to someone and then they could choose what they want – like the way people choose their wedding photographs!” I enjoyed the editing process but it was fraught.  Of course, if I’d taken more photographs then at least I would have had more to choose from that were, hopefully, ‘good enough’.

My learning log/blog

Excellent overall. My write-up of the alternative assignment shows I’m going the extra mile. Suggestion that I include more links to what I’m reading and viewing.  I’m aware that I hadn’t been doing as much  reading (due to my sinking into gloom at the beginning) but that has increased in past weeks. In fact I’m beginning to lose track slightly on recent books I’ve bought and ordered from the library so the pile is growing.  Also I had been in the habit of doing hyperlinks and references within the body of the write-ups and then listing all the references again at the end.  I’d stopped doing the latter but will go back and amend that.  I also have a separate ‘page’  which for some reason appears at the bottom right of my blog which is “Bibliography and References” so I can keep overall track of reading etc.  Having read my tutor’s feedback I realise I haven’t updated it at all so that will have to be done. I’m not too sure about including all the website links I’ve followed for posts there though. I think I’ll ask a tutor question on the OCA site.

Suggested reading/viewing

Lots of suggestions here on ‘People at Work’ ; “People and Gardens” and “People in Buildings”( remembering the next assignment). These are  – Keith Arnatt,; Lee Friedlander; Fay Godwin; John Darwell and  Stephen Gill. I’ve accessed all of sites once already – now need to go back and look in more depth.

Also suggestion to look at Magnum Contact Sheets, Thames & Hudson to look at how the best photographers ‘work’ a scene. This is on order from the library, in view of the high cost of buying. If I like it sufficiently it can always go on my Christmas present list!

Action points

  • Continue to work on my collaborative process
  • Take more time to set things up
  • Take more photographs overall for a series
  • Remember to get variety of activity in photographs – as in the case of a group shot followed by an individual one.
  • Make some notes for my paper log on the photographer series I’ve been linked to – plus I can safely download examples without breaching copyright.
  • Update my ‘Bibliography and references” list on Pages in my blog.

2nd October 2012

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8 thoughts on “Assignment 2 : People and Activity – Response to tutor Feedback

  1. Adding to Vicki’s “well done” with one of my own. You must be pleased with the progress! On the collaborative theme, I am becoming aware that most professional photographers appear to have little hesitancy in posing the image, in “creating” what is set before the lens. I think that is the Rubicon we must all cross to “make-it” to the other side. I’ll keep watching.
    As for books! I’ve just seen the “essential” list for G&M, let alone the “further reading”, good job I had some Amazon vouchers and it will certainly be a visit to the library in the very short term.

    • Yes – this is difficult for me because on the one hand we’re told to portray reality and yet, on the other hand, we’re expected to get just the right viewpoints so a little manipulation might be needed. My tutor gave me some additional suggestions and I think Shaun’s suggestion below is good as well in terms of making ten shots of one subject in a variety of different ways.

  2. Good job Catherine, looks like you are making real progress and starting to address how you photograph as well as what you photograph. I also struggle with the how many photos is enough or too many. In the end I have kind of stopped worrying, it is what it is. I have slowed down, less jumping from place to place, I spend more time evaluating a situation and thinking about the potential – I then may make 10 shots of one subject changing focal length, angle, exposure, and so on. I don’t but into the idea that a roll of 36 made people more careful and creative and thus better, digital is different, it liberates and constrains, but in different ways to film.

    I was also interested in the comments on how you are interacting with your subjects, which, as I think you know is one of my bugbears. I find it very hard to engage directly with strangers, language barrier also not helping. At the moment I am far happier working anonymously and that is fitting well into my own world view, but I do get the sense that your personal style is more engaging and collaborative.

    Last point, if you have not already done so, look at Lewis Hine, he was a superb photographer of people at work. I recently bought the new book simply titles “Lewis Hine” accompanying a current traveling exhibition. Pricy, but superb.

    • Thanks Shaun – good to hear from you. I think your suggestion of ten shots of one subject is excellent and will try it. Hopefully that might make sure that I get at least one that’s good.
      Engaging/talking with people isn’t a problem for me and it used to be necessary in the work I did as well. Dog walking is also another relaxed way in which one gets chatting to people. In fact I still tend to know people by their dog’s names rather than their own! The step for me, which I haven’t quite got the hang of yet, is to move smoothly from talking with to photographing and not thinking that I’m taking up people’s valuable time.
      I had a quick look at Lewis Hine – definitely pricy but he’s on my Amazon wish list.

  3. Catherine. I agree with all the comments so far. You are doing well so don’t go into a gloom. Personally I find it very hard to go up strangers. It doesn’t help that in the UAE there is a very strong emphasis on privacy and one can’t really go about taking photos of strangers with or without permission. Having said I do admire your persistence. So keep it up!!

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