Last Friday I had a Google Hangout with my tutor. Below is his report. I always find it very motivating to talk about my studies and assignments. It really helps in pushing myself to continue and take my work seriously. Besides that, our conversation was very helpful in knowing how to conclude this course and get ready for assessment. Below you will find the report in italics and my response in normal font.
Thanks Russell for your speedy reply and insightful comments!
Your final submission, ‘The Tragic Demise of the Rulers of Oudh’, is very interesting, both in its personal connection and its historical context. Its topical interest is strong, as evidenced with the BBC news report on the Princes death. This submission has dramatically changed from your initial investigation into the child portraits and interviews; sometimes, making such a change in the development of a project can be a risk. However, through the document based investigation and your personal account, you have produced a very good assignment. As you are aware there are some design considerations to explore, which we discussed during the Hangout and can be found below.
That is good to hear. It was a big step to change the subject and I feel I need to do something with the material that I have of the children. Maybe I could continue with that project in a following course. I’ll work on the design issues we talked about and try to deliver a product that does justice to the intensity of the narrative.
You have invested a lot of time already into your initial investigation, which has been positive; the portraits you produced of the children are very good and the experimentation into the concept posters have been successful. Reading through your learning log, it is clear that you experienced a creative block; yet you have evidenced a positive and successful creative pathway. Your collage test, further supports this strong developmental approach.
I need to become aware of what I need to do to not get stuck or how to get out of the rut. Most of the time it’s my inner voice telling me that I will never be good enough and what am I thinking that I would become a photographer in the first place. This doesn’t help at all, so I need to work on how to change these negative feelings and thoughts into a positive move forward.
In a way, you have submitted two assignments, which both merit comment. The strength of your portraits are very good; the compositions are engaging and the connectivity to the sitters are positive, which evidence your interpersonal and thoughtful approach to this demographic. From the various shoots, the most successful portraits are as follows:
• Shiv playing at the piano with the religious icons above his head. • Somya standing with her legs crossed on the dirt track.
• Eva standing, smiling with her right shoulder angled forward.
• Lana standing with her right hand on her hip.
• Lana sitting on the grass looking away from the camera
• Sophie looking over her shoulder with the gentleman in the background
However, your actual Assignment 05 submission is the mixed media documentary of the last Rulers of Oudh. This is successful, you have explored historical documents, personal photographs and have pieced together an engaging document. As you are aware, there are some design considerations to address in terms of layout and the edit of the material. A main element that needs addressing, is the body of text. Your introduction is pivotal, this informs the reader of the connection you had with Prince Cyrus, so leave this in.
The other account written by Alex Ninian, is very interesting, but it is quite a bulk of text, which although adds context, perhaps overloads the reader. Consider omitting this text in favour of the interspersed narrative from the Princess’s writing; which supports the images and further contextualises them.
As we discussed, I will put these documents in an annex, so that the main focus will be on the Princess’ account, but the reader can access background information if it would wish to.
As discussed, it would be good to differentiate the found images and the shots you took; this can be done through photographing the original found images on a neutral background, or adding a very subtle drop-shadow. Although you can start to tell, which images are yours, the visual clue may work in strengthening the consideration of the text/image relationship. What you are aiming to achieve, is to elevate the found photographs from being two-dimensional records, to being artefacts that have an intrinsic physical value. Please see the comparative example below, where a subtle drop-shadow gives the photograph a three- dimensional value:
This technique is slightly evident within your layouts, where a couple of the letters/images have creases in them, which again alludes to them being a physical object. With the found images, the vertical triptych of Polaroids are the most successful; the placement of the matriarch at the top supports the account of her being strong and determined in her mission.
I think I should rephotograph the images anyway, when I photographed the ones that are in the book I didn’t use very good lighting. After that, I will add the drop shadow if it is not there yet. It does make a difference in showing what is my own work and what not, which will add value to the found photographs as historical objects.
As we discussed, in terms of layout, it is recommended as part of the rework to consider editing the following pages:
• 12, remove one of the interior shots and enlarge the other.
• 13, add one more similar image and arrange in a grid of four.
• 14, remove bottom right image and resize/align the exterior and dogs to match.
• 16, remove archway shot & top right text, resize/align the found images.
• 17, resize and align top of left image to match right.
• 18, remove small bottom right image and resize/align the before after shots.
• 20, remove right side text, align image of fridge.
• 21, add new page to only accommodate letter.
With the design and structure, it would be logical to include a ‘list of illustrations’ page, this would then clearly assign each image/letter to its respective owner.
All these changes will really help in strengthening the narrative of the the photo essay. I’ll work on it and then we can discuss the result before I have the book printed for assessment.
Learning Logs and or blogs:
You have evidenced your development well, however, the abrupt change of direction may be good to clarify in the opening introduction to your final assignment, when it is sent for formal assessment. Use an edited version of your ‘Change of Thought and Assignment’ blog post.
You have reflected very well for this assignment; questioning whether or not to use the found material evidences good ethical judgment. Going by your account of your relationship with Cyrus coupled with how you have used the images, you have shown great respect; as long as the images are correctly documented and assigned, then ethically, their use is fair.
With regards to the layout/design of the book, it would benefit greatly from further design research into photography books. For example, the front page could look very dynamic if done in a similar style to the example in the top right of this picture: https://goo.gl/MYm2Ax
Pointers for the next assignment:
We discussed about the presentation of your assignments; Assignment 01 will be the online interactive map, Assignments 02 & 03 will be archival inkjet prints, remember to try out different inkjet papers and keep them all to the same size. Assignment 04 will be a standard document print, test a page with 1.5 & 2.0 line spacing and see which one reads best. With Assignment 05, a book will be very fitting; so, explore the new edit and layout, then we can chat more about it for your Assignment 06 feedback.
I am very eager to get the work done and move on to a next course. Thanks for your support Russell!