Demonstration of visual and technical skills
By way of brief pre-amble I feel that I have learned enormously from this assignment. Although I have twice previously produced semi-staged fiction/non-fiction assignments I felt this time I started to see more clearly the power of this combination for ‘visual storytelling’. Remembering what Robert Enoch said to me during one tutorial I have tried to follow his suggestions of ‘drawing a line in the sand’ and giving myself the challenge of improving and even going beyond to a new standard of work. On the whole I feel that I have achieved that. However, visually I am not complacent.
To maintain the coherency of design and composition I have used a strong colours and shot mainly with a lens giving 17-40mm focal length. As the remit was to make a colour documentary piece I have tried to focus strongly on coherency of colour palette throughout the production of the images. I had the possibility of ‘shooting’ outside and thus used the light in most cases to best advantage to give a sense of contrast in the images to the colours where I needed it. My techniques have been various, often using a lower vantage point with at the aim to give a sense of depth to viewing and more dramatic story telling style. My concern is to tell a story rather than show facts.
Quality of outcome
I am pleased with the work. The final presentation is in book form which itself has been a learning curve, using blurb to format the book. I would in future certainly print the images out in small format and arrange on paper a mock book first as with this process I was only able to see the whole piece once uploaded to blurb in the final stage. This was a bit disconcerting as I felt that I needed to be able to arrange several times the format to enhance the flow of the work across the pages. As it is I changed the format and layout maybe twelve times. I have learnt about how pacing and phases of expression change across a series of photos depending on how they are laid out. Obviously there is more to learn here, and it strikes me that this is a very hands on skill worth having especially if book format is going to be an important source of viewing photos (which I believe it is) for the future.
My main area of experimentation has been with imagining the series to tell a story. From the somewhat limited resources available during the ‘lock down’ I felt that I had to be more economical with what I chose to shoot. As I had more time, I could reflect more on what I wanted to take pictures of. Largely My editing of images has been to look for the strongest compositions with batches taken of the same subject, but I did not shoot scores of outtakes for the assignment. I felt there was no need.
As far as personal voice goes, I feel that I am and have been finding it in the example of this project. I enjoy immensely the ‘playground’ of staged and mes en scene photography and find that it gives more scope for exploring deeper issues than traditional fact finding documentary. Using a current issue to form an idea of what is going on behind the scenes has helped me to look closely at myriad discussions taking place and form an opinion on what I have been exploring.
Demonstration of creativity
With this I have endeavoured to rely more on the content of the images than too much manipulation in post editing. The creative element has been in imagining the scenarios as a series to talk about the theme whilst leaving space for some ambiguity and interpretation to take place. Combining found narratives of objects with staged photos of people always poses potential coherency problems. I have definitely been able to see how a coherent set is important whilst at the same time tried to steer away from an overly didactic photographic series. The personal voice as already mentioned feels like it is coming forward in my images through the strength of the photos themselves and the story telling component. This is the area I will keep on developing.
Being thrown into an existential crisis along with millions of people is an interesting experience that has given me the time to reflect on the well hackneyed phrase ‘the human condition’. My work in general aims to explore this. The human condition in its current plight might sound dramatic but I sense that this is quite a dramatic time for many on all sort of levels. So as a concept I felt that it was a good launch pad with which to try to talk about broader human and global issues, albeit in a short set of photos.
My thinking and research was based on narrative perspectives of various experts discussing the current pandemic as something of a symptom of a deeper malady. Rather than just focusing in the lock down I find it more appealing to try to discuss the bigger picture that goes beyond just this incidence. In my research there will be found the unfoldment of this. In general I probably need at this stage to be less carried away by research as I find I can over do it. It would be interesting to explicitly bring in at some stage some of the research done as part of an exhibition.