Open College of the Arts

Tutor report

Student name: Stephen Barney

Course/Module Photography 1: Digital Photographic Practice

Assignment number 4: Real or Fake


Overall Comments

Well done for submitting A4 Stephen. You have clearly put effort into bringing this assignment together. You have logged research into the theme of the assignment, the stages of your workflow and editing and all exercises are uploaded. From your reflective notes it seems that you have really enjoyed exploring the subject of photographic truth and constructed imagery. In terms of areas of focus going forward to the final stage of the unit, I would suggest that you:

  1. try to expand further on points within your research (especially following up with initial outline posts for eg: http://www.photographicsteve.com/archives/5571 )
  2. broaden your experimentation and tests of different ideas and edits as you work towards your final set of images.

Just to note that in emails back and for during this assignment, you would like further feedback on the direction of A5. So I include this again at the bottom of the next section.

Assessment potential

I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, and providing you commit yourself to the course, I suggest that you are very likely to be successful in the assessment.

Feedback on assignment

It’s great that you have shared the various stages of your process as you constructed this final image. However, I would certainly be a little clearer with where you acquired the source images, ie lizard texture, wound imagery. If these images are not your own, you really need to reference the source. It is of equal importance to say, quoting an author in your written work.

In terms of strengths, this was certainly an ambitious concept to achieve and you have worked with multiple images to form the final piece – which takes research time and planning time. I also like how you have appropriated an existing book cover, looking at ways you feel this could be improved. However -­‐ Did you draw out your design? Did you consider a few different portraits until you found the one you eventually worked with? – what shortlist of options did you get it down to? Can we see those other images, can we see more indepth notes on how you decided on this particular image against others; can you scan in sketches?
Referencing a visual from the television programme itself makes sense and certainly shows your knowledge and passion for the series and must have taken time to decide upon. What other ideas did you have? Where there other visuals that you considered emulating?*

Making decisions such as the above, are all part of your ideas development process (not to be confused with final piece construction) and should also be logged as they demonstrate the level and breadth of your experimentation in order to reach your final piece.

I do think that whilst undergoing this kind of testing and trialling, it would have been worthwhile considering time limitations. As this was quite an intricate idea with many layers, I feel you would have benefitted from more time here – to practice and refine your image manipulation techniques and work with typography. I also feel that it would have benefitted the overall quality and would have made your image manipulation easier, had you been able to use source images of higher resolution. The difference in quality between your portrait and the other images is really quite noticeable. So something definitely worth bearing in mind if working with composite images in future.

* I want to quickly return to the above point – I would have liked to have seen you consider timing and also other ideas and question if such heavy editing is always necessary to achieve the unsettling and other worldly results you were so excited to achieve. For example, could the simple editing of the figures eyes, into lizard eyes.

A5 – Ok so further to A3 feedback, when you were looking into portraiture for your final assignment (but I encouraged you to seriously consider if it was actually feasible to hire a studio or models) you’ve now developed an idea inspired by this assignment, to create constructed sc-­‐fi topographic images of set locations. My main pointer about this, would be to take on board my point above, about setting realistic goals within the given time frame that enables you to produce the highest quality end result, both technically and conceptually. I think that in this instance, I would consider the quality of the images you are working with and opt for creating as much of your source images with your own photography. I would also consider why photomontage technique is used and look at as much work as possible – what messages are these artists trying to communicate? (see suggested reading below). Also acknowledge your limitations and consider that you probably will not be able to produce something of the same immersive and convincing level of 3D animators or set designers… work to your strengths and work out the most important visual devices to convey your ideas and stick with them – even if it’s a simple one. Often the simplest ideas can be the best.

Learning Logs or Blogs

Regarding research and written work: I can see you have started this with your post about the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, however it would be great to see you further expanding the depth of your research as you move into the final section of the unit. When you rationalise your conclusions and summaries about an image or series of images, ask yourself how you came to reach this? Expand comments to include observations that you feel back up your understanding of the work. One way to do this is to select one or two specific images to look closer at – reflect on how you imagine the image was made, what key clues are there in the image itself that lead you to believe this? What technology might have been available to this photographer at the time the work was made? Why do you think the work was made at all? What purpose does it serve – where would it be found? These are the kinds of questions that your written work should be attempting to address.

For example: you explain the story of Contreras’s image taken in Syria for a newspaper, however I’d like to see you try to go on to consider ‘why’ the newspaper or the photoagency have taken this stance – what do you believe this could be due to? You could also comment on what you believe the wider ramifications and ethical implications could be if the press published such images.

Suggested reading/viewing

In my last feedback I noted clear gaps in your learning log, and I’m pleased to see that you’ve worked to address this since then -­‐ sharing your visual references and making a start on some more extended posts and thematic research. Collage and composite work I really think you should look at before taking on your chosen assignment subject:

Peter Kennard / David Hockney / David Thomas Smith: http://david-­‐thomas-­‐smith.com/ANTHROPOCENE / Edgar Martins: I know that Edgar came under scrutiny when it emerged that he often manipulates his images, especially this project and the image looking through the archway to double doors with the leaves in the hallway. There is sure to be an article on this somewhere online…http://www.edgarmartins.com/work/this-­‐is-­‐
not-­‐a-­‐house/?show=photographs Also Dawn Woolley’s posts on adverts, I think you’d really enjoy the detail into which she deconstructs advertising imagery – totally constructed images created with a very specific message in mind. http://weareoca.com/author/dawn-­‐woolley/

Conclusions / Pointers for the next assignment

I hope this feedback is useful as you move into the final section of the unit. I know you are keen to complete in time for the November assessment, so I would advise to spend more time on developing and trialling a couple of different ideas for a simple yet assertive set of images, that demonstrates the best of your skills so far whilst also allowing you to respond to both your existing and newly discovered inspirations and research. I realise that you actually have to post off your work for assessment at the end of September – this is going to be very tight Stephen and won’t give you much time to rework after my final feedback. If you really must submit for November, then I suggest you get your A5 to me as soon as possible. Although I would prefer you to consider if this is rushing and to contact Eddie or Lia at OCA HQ if you have any concerns. Please note I am on holiday from 18th – 26th September.