People & Place Assignment 5: Response to Tutor feedback

I was pleased to have the usual quick feedback from my tutor, especially as this is the final Assignment for the module. His overall comments were brief but positive so good to start with:-

Overall this has been another good assignment. I was impressed with the lengths you went to find an interesting subject and explore it in an interesting way. I thought you hit upon something interesting by finding a long term resident and this may have been the best avenue to explore –a series influenced by Geoffrey’s memories of a life spent in this place. If you could fit in another trip then this would be a very interesting avenue to pursue –speak to Geoffrey whilst showing him your photographs and see what memories they conjure. If you record this session then you could use this information as the basis for captions for the photographs. This would form a fascinating link between the photographs of Geoffrey and his home and the photographs of the wider space. This is certainly not a requirement for level one though and may be just something to consider in later modules.

  • Re my query regarding different sizes of prints:  a  mock-up of a magazine article can dictate how the work is viewed and relative sizes of each photo.  I can still present prints of different sizes but this works better on a wall than submitting a portfolio of loose prints.
  • Agreement that this could be a very interesting multimedia project – with video and audio interviews alongside still photographs of the landscape.
  • I should have held out for the ultra-modern interior, ultra-wide lens shot from same viewpoint, as an interesting counterpoint.  Certainly ,Geoffrey and I had talked about how this type of house can adapt itself to different ages and types of furniture etc and this idea is something I can always return to in the future.
  • Portrait submitted of Geoffrey not the strongest and suggestion that 5579 is a more natural composition.  I had thought of that one but hadn’t been sure because of the angle that had been necessary due to the small amount of space for manoeuvring with my camera.
  • A portrait of Geoffrey is important to avoid interior shots becoming a bit “’Through the Keyhole-esque’”.   Also a detail shot does give the sense of the house being a lived-in space and my tutor liked the idea of 5722 which shows the built-in cupboard between kitchen and dining area.  Suggestions made re the crop and straightening but I’d already done that – I hadn’t included this in my final 12 because it was portrait orientation and I’d thought this would make it ‘stick-out’ and lead to a comment about it.
  • My overall edit is interesting – particularly those showing the close relationship between the estate and the landscape. On that point I may need to open the series a little differently – showing the houses within their setting.  5722 suggested but without the car. I had used that image in my write-up when discussing my visits to Templemere.   An initial attempt at ‘removing’ the car hadn’t worked. Also a suggestion that, (although I have already done it this way),  I more definitely divide  the series into 3 ‘Acts’  – houses in their setting, residents and interiors, wider forest setting.
  • With Geoffrey as the only person I need captions relating to how he sees the place. Suggestion of visit to him with my final pictures so that he can relate his memories of living in this place. This would tie the work together and make the series about his life within this space.
  • As I’d expected, my tutor also did a slightly different rough edit

Here is my original edit:

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 14.38.46

Here is my tutor’s edit:

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 14.35.24

My tutor has chosen the more contextual portrait of Geoffrey, and replaced the shot of the two chairs with a wider view of the living area that also shows his original room heater.  The closer shot giving more prominence to the room heater is replaced by the cupboard detail. I had originally thought of  5471 for one view of the houses but had decided against that because the grass had turned brown due to the prevailing hot, sunny weather without rain.

  • My tutor noted also that it might be useful to have a view out of a window that, ‘could serve to tie the forest and estate images together’.  Geoffrey has nets at his window which was why I hadn’t done that.
  • So far as technical details were concerned my tutor had noticed I was getting some chromatic aberration where the sky comes through the trees and suggested the fix. This was because of my attempts to reduce the extremes between almost white skies at times and dark greenery. Prints generally acceptable although some a little cool looking and one print (No. 12) was a bit green. Fix suggested.  I’ll do a re-check when the prints have been returned to me.
  • A wider reading list of blogs suggested. In fact I do have a long list of blogs I follow which also include art; creative writing and design. Some I follow through WordPress but others from different hosts are followed via Bloglovin. I hadn’t entered links onto my blog because it is such a long list. In fact I’ve decided that for my next blog (DPP) I won’t include a blog roll unless there’s a different way of doing this.

Action taken

I arranged another visit to Geoffrey. I intended to show him contact sheets of my edit, my tutor’s edit and the set of 6×4 prints of my second selection and then, after discussing them, to suggest he might choose his own 12. I also wanted to see if I could get another view of the houses in context, without cars, and maybe another with greener grass.

I had a really pleasant two hours with Geoffrey who was very interested in all the photographs (although not enthused about the portraits of himself that I’d  posted to him some time ago, thinking that he looked ‘so old’.) I recorded most of our conversation on my iPhone as well. After discussing both edits and  going through all the 6×4 prints Geoffrey then chose his own twelve. I must admit to maybe being over-encouraging that he should choose one of himself. I also mentioned about a shot from the window and he was all for that, although it would have to be through the net curtain downstairs as the rail was in a flimsy state for moving it.  I also had a tour upstairs and was able to photograph through an open window there. On the way back to my car I took more photographs of houses in context. Cars were still there and to cut them out gave a narrower view.  Here are the best of some of the photographs I took.

Templemere retakes ContactSheet-001 low resTemplemere retake ContactSheet-002 low res

I now had decisions to make about my own ‘final’ edit based on my tutor’s feedback, Geoffrey’s own views and the new images.  The ‘dialogue with Geoffrey has been very important to me in understanding the underlying approaches to the creation of Templemere and its continuing effect on its residents. I think I’ve been very fortunate in being able to engage in such a positive collaboration and with such an interesting and welcoming person. Not forgetting Bill and Brenda Boyd as well who facilitated my project so smoothly. I therefore want my final choice to embody something of their  attachment to Templemere,  whilst including my tutor’s suggestions but still being ‘mine’.

I chose my ‘final’ 12 but then got to wondering about differences between an original more spontaneous edit and then a subsequent one through the filter of other people’s feedback. There have been crossovers of course but any edits are the outcome of individual viewers’ perspectives. How much might I have lost my original response to Templemere? I decided to allow a night’s sleep to process everything. Woke up thinking about the woods and that I could do a ‘side’ series on them. I’ve done my own printing so far but it might be worth ordering a trial print on aluminium.  I put out a query on OCA Flickr and, having considered suggestions/advice I’ve went ahead and ordered one print on metallic paper. I actually like the effect but have heeded warnings on it not being a good idea to submit shiny prints for Assessment. I’ve now ordered a different type of ‘metallic’ photopaper from Permajet and will experiment with that in due course. This is a side series though so I must return to my Templemere edit which I decided not to change from the previous night.

Here are my final 12.

Captions

I decided that, here, it would be most useful for me to produce a book to contain captions and also a small amount of narrative. I prepared a proof copy and got some feedback and then re-edited a final copy. Here is a PDF (open it up in two page view)

Templemere final version reduced pdf

and here is the book on the Blurb site.

The book should arrive in time for me to send with assessment material as ‘supplementary’ work. I’ve been thinking a lot about narrative and I hope that the book can be understood in it’s own right.

Conclusion and thoughts for some continuing work

I enjoyed working on all aspects of the project.  I’ve been pleased as well that I have enough reasonable images to enable different edits. I had thought of recording an interview but that was more in passing, as in something to do for a future project, as I knew that I would have to do some concentrated learning on this.  I’m pleased though that my tutor’s feedback actually gave me the necessary push to go along with the recording and to talk more with Geoffrey about the photographs. I intend to create a book just for him as well, with his favourite images included and also to do one which will be just about Templemere itself.  This will enable me to include images I had to omit for the final 12 re-edit.  It really was hard to choose just 12! I have endeavoured to take into account my tutor’s comments on processing/colour whilst printing the definitive final 12, particularly with the colour green.

I still have the recording and will experiment with ways of linking it with some of the photographs in a video format.  I’ll add it here if I have time before assessment.  Now onward to getting everything ready to send off for Assessment and completing Study Visit write-ups etc before Assessment day..

30th September 2013

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23 thoughts on “People & Place Assignment 5: Response to Tutor feedback

  1. Great work Catherine….shows how you have developed and improved the idea….I think the book works very well. I like the new portrait of Geoffrey a lot but am sad you have removed the symmetrical shot of the electric heater…although thing itself still appears in the wider shot. I thought the earlier image reflected the order and simplicity of modernism. I was at Photofusion not long ago and saw an exhibition by Elizabeth Blanchett about people living in prefabs…it might be of interest as the final presentation was multimedia with old photographs, some video and some text. You can see it here:
    http://www.photofusion.org/exhibitions/elisabeth-blanchet/

    • Thanks Keith. I know – I like the heater as well. There are so many ways that a project like this could go and I had to take into account my tutor’s view as well on what worked in terms of combining images. I know I have so much to learn about editing.
      There could be a whole other project on people who live in houses like this; what attracted them; why they stayed and why they left (if it wasn’t connected with work and family-size moves etc). I think you have to want a concept like this to work to live there and there must be undercurrents to it all. From my viewpoint I admire that approach to community living which means that I’ve adopted a positive viewpoint. I also know, from experience of living in a very small development that has communal areas, how difficult it can be to get agreement on what should be done. There are so many ways to go with a project like this and that’s what I’ve enjoyed – the thought that there are so many other possible avenues to explore.
      I did want to go to see Elizabeth Blanchett’s exhibition. I remember when my aunt and uncle moved into their prefab – it was so modern at the time and I remember being overawed by the separate inside toilet and electric fridge in the kitchen. I can imagine it now!

  2. Great to see how you’ve developed this. I wasn’t sure about captions but they work really well in the book. I particularly like the resident’s comments alongside the photo’s.

    • I felt the same about captions as well. What might be necessary if there was no other commentary/narrative to accompany it and what could be the least I had to write to convey the story. I do intend to create a story mainly without words, perhaps just a short written introduction as in my book. Maybe I could use poetry as well though! I do feel as if I have lots of scope for development.

      • Yes, it’s almost crying out for the distillation of poetry – but that’s from my writer’s perspective! My photographer’s perspective asks whether you want to tell the story or allow the viewer to create their own?
        As someone who’d prefer to live in the middle of nowhere this type of living fascinates me and you’re conveying it so well.

      • That’s reassuring to know Denise. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that the longer I look at and think about a series and how to tell the story, the more dissatisfied I can feel that I’ just not getting it right. Sometimes I have a very strong urge to tell the story myself because of the impact of what I’m experiencing when I’m in a place. As few words as possible though.

  3. I think maybe there’s too many edits here to make a clear decision on! The work though is exemplary, so well done on that. I think the pdf edit does it best for me. The quietness and (with the two page view) the position of image vs text works well. Hope to see the book sometime as well.

    • Well – there aren’t that many edits – my first edit’ my tutor’s edit and now my ‘final’ edit! I’m pleased you like the pdf edit. I had some feedback from Eileen and Vicki on my initial book layout which meant that I altered the placement of words on some of the pages and that kept it even more simple. You’ll certainly see the book.

  4. The final layout works well for me. Love the story, always interesting what happens in other places like this. I find the interior bright and fresh even though it hasn’t change in decades; fantastic! You’ll be working with captions if you do PwDP, so this is a good practice and I think you’re doing well. Good luck! 😉

  5. I think the final selection and book looks really well. I think you’ve weaved Geoffrey’s story into the mix very effectively so as to add richness of story and interest but not make it all about him. I also like how you’ve combined close-feeling shots (the one of Geoffrey and the dense shot of the nearby forested area) with pictures that suggest space and light, so that one gets a good overall sense of the place and at least one of its inhabitants.

    • Thanks Eileen, including for your helpful suggestions on the initial book. I really did find it hard to choose just 12 images that conveyed my impressions of Templemere so I’m pleased that you got an overall sense of it.

  6. I’m a bit late looking at this, but I really like the book layout. I think that including Geoffrey’s thoughts was a great idea, and the whole project comes across as very refreshing to me as I’ve been a bit stuck with the same course.
    It was very interesting to read your tutor’s thoughts and how you adapted the work.

  7. Fascinating work Catherine and the 3 edits provide such different perspectives. I find that fascinating! I think it’s great that you included Geoffrey’s ideas and that you’ve managed to weave the story so well. Really well done .. and the book looks great!

    • This question of edits is so complex.I might be wrong but I’m sure that Moriyama had an Exhibition where people could make their own choice from a selection of his images and then would have their own printed book by the end of the day. Pleased you like the book.

  8. Great work and an absorbing final assignment Catherine. I think the book works really well adding another element of interest to the series as a whole. I have never attempted to produce a photo book but feel inspired by your work to have a go. I look forward to following your progress on your next course right from the beginning. Best wishes Judy.

    • Nice to hear from you Judy and thanks. I enjoy the process of producing a photo book (not that I’ve done many) but it’s scary too wondering how they’ll turn out. I would still like to produce my own book right from scratch though – guess I’d feel more in control of the process. I’ll be starting DPP shortly so will be posting a link to a new blog here when I’ve decided which theme to us. Hope all is going well with you. Best Wishes, Catherine

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