Assessment – Results

After a few weeks of nail biting, I got the results of the assessment of this course. I passed with 81 points! I am so happy with this and feel very motivated to continue my studies.

It shows that it pays off to step out my comfort zone, experiment and not rush through the module. It is so nice to experience growth and the development of my own creative voice sheer by just doing and trying new things.

As an advice for my upcoming studies, the assessors suggest to pay as much attention to analyzing my own work as I did when I analyzed the work of other photographers in my essay. This is a good suggestion and will help in taking myself more serious as an artist (and in general!)

Anyway, You’ll find the breakdown of the results here.



Note to Assessors

Dear Assessors,

Welcome to my Documentary learning blog! I am happy to present you my work and let you in on my thinking and development throughout the course.

In the menu on the left you will find my assignments and coursework. The assignment pages bring you to my initial submissions, tutor reports, rework and final submissions. The Part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 will guide you to the exercises, research and assignment preparations.

Even though all exercises and assignments contain reflections on myself and photographers, Research and Reflections are more specific.

I would appreciate it very much if you could also have a quick look at my personal work. Even though this is not course related, I do find it reflects the development and growth I have gained through my studies. I am especially proud of the book project, with which we were able to raise 16.000 euros for local charities.

Thank you for assessing my work. I hope you will see some of the excitement and wonder I have felt all throughout the course.

Leonie Broekstra


Assignment 6 – Final Assessment

When I had my work assessed for Context and Narrative, I remember being a bit frustrated about the quality of my notebook. It was a bit messy and looked more like a family photo album than an artist’s portfolio.

So this time I wanted to present my work in such a way that it was coherent, but still let the individual assignments stand out as separate narratives. In order to let this happen, I realized I had to come up with unique ways that did most justice to the stories that I was telling. Below you will find my line of thought for per assignment:

  • Assignment 1
    My tutor had suggested to transform the photos to polaroid style images. I had done that and liked the outcome, but realized the assignment was more about the idea of people from different backgrounds and nationalities, with all their own life story, work and live together in a small area. Zooming in from Google Maps accentuates how you can go to a random place and find all these individuals together, but on the other hand so apart. With adding the captions I have made the map my personal space and given personal interpretations to all the individuals you will find there.
  • Assignment 2
    This part of the course focused on the function of desaturation in images. In order to let the grey tones stand out and shine in their subtlety, I choose an archival bright white paper from the Hanemuller collection. I am really happy with the results, the difference in tonalities bring such a depth to the images. Even though I have taken all images in different places, because of the final edit and choice of paper it has become a clear, coherent unity.


  • Assignment 3
    The assignment said to present this book as a PDF file, which you can find on my blog. However, I thought the images really lend themselves to be printed on metallic paper. I am always impressed with how the metallic effect brings out the highlights in the photograph. Since all these images were made at night and lit by artificial light it is really suitable for it. Looking at the prints now, I feel they add to the feeling of mystery and longing that the series aims to bring across. I love the effect of the colours changing when holding it in different angles from a light source.


  • Assignment 4
    I had my essay laid out and printed in such a way that it is an easy and comfortable read. I tried different spaces and fonts and sizes, and feel that now it is a clean document. I decided to print the images in colour to do justice to the work of the photographer I am discussing.
  • Assignment 5
    The narrative of Cyrus really lent itself to be published in a photobook. Because I had never used online printers before and couldn’t be sure about the quality of the prints, I decided to have it done at the same place as where I had my documents printed. It was hard to give them detailed instructions of what I wanted it to look like, but I am happy with the result. It looks and feels like a notebook, which works well, given the fact that the text comes from a notebook. It is a pity that some photographs are spreads across different pages. I feel that some details are lost now.





I have put all assignments in separate folders so that it is clear to the tutors to keep the work apart. Everything fits in an A4 box and is sent together.


Happy and proud to have sent it off!



This module has come to an end. I have just packed up my prints and will send them off to the OCA this afternoon. It has been quite a journey and I have a nice sense of accomplishment and pride.

I had a look at the assessment results of Context and Narrative and have been thinking about my growth since then. Besides positive feedback, the report suggested the following:

‘I would like to see more detailed and critical reflection on your assignments
perhaps you should try to aim for a similar level of reflection as you managed when writing your 1000 word essay. This (or near to it) would allow you to really begin to know your own practice and would mean that your development would be further enhanced.’ (report assessment Context and Narrative)

Looking at my work and reflections I feel that I have improved throughout the module. There are so many (ethical and artistic) sides to photography and I tend to stay in the grey areas without really forcing myself to ponder on what I actually believe and work towards. The course itself and my tutor’s clear and direct suggestions pushed me to read and reflect a lot, and helped me to conceptualize my practice instead of just starting and see where I end up. I feel that I have pushed myself to express myself more through my work and push myself to photograph out of my comfort zone. Especially writing the critical essay forced me to channel  and communicate my ideas about photography and art in general. This was also very helpful.

Looking at the assignments and the rework, I am happy to see that they are a reflection of the areas I have been working on. There is a balance of portraits and more abstract photographs, narratives that are very personal, and the story of Cyrus, whose life could not be further apart than mine. I have experienced with lighting, struggled tremendously with the design of my books, experimented with self portraiture, used online platforms to present my work and have improved my Photoshop skills.

I believe that the outcome has reached the level of quality and creativity that is asked for and that I have provided an ample context from which the work was created. However, I am not there yet, I hope to work more on improving my editing skills so that I can experiment more with digital art. Besides that, now that I have been able to form opinions and ideas around photographing other people, I want to establish stronger practices that will make me feel more confident in going out and maybe find clients to work for.

On to the next module!



Assignment 5 – Stuck

So I have photographed a few 12 year olds, interviewed them and now I don’t know what to do anymore! I feel that just showing their images and a quote doesn’t really do justice to all the things that they have told me and the time they live in. On the other hand, I feel that I have to find a common theme in the interviews and explore that.

The words in the reader that bother me most are ‘methodical approach’. This because I am not a very methodical person, actually, I cannot think of a single thing that I do exactly the same every time, except for how I do the dishes maybe. But in this assignment I know I should have a plan, an idea and a methodical way of executing it and this is where I get stuck.

Because to be honest, I also just want to finish this course and get on with the next. So the temptation is there to just submit the images, add a sound clip and that’s it. But there is more I could do with this content, I know.

My son has art classes in school and I am a little bit jealous. He gets to use all these fantastic materials and experiment with to his heart’s desire, he went to the Biennale in Venice and what makes me most envious, he just sits down and produces really cool stuff. In all honesty, I am actually very jealous with his notebook! It looks fantastic and he just writes in it as if it’s the easiest thing ever.

He also made these cyanotypes and glued them on cans, of which I wish I had made them. Such a terrible, jealous mom 🙂


But enough whining and bragging, what should I do with assignment 5??

Besides being very artsy, my son is also quite helpful, although in a very blunt way. He showed me work of a Serbian artist that he really liked, Vlad Scepanovic. I was quite blown away by his artist statement and realized that in order to get out of the rut of wanting to produce art but ending up with quick fixes, I do have to invest time in my skills; drawing, photography and painting. I do have to be willing to let the creative juices flow and not reap from the fact that I live in exotic places and can photograph about a 100 ‘what the heck’ moments every day.

So deeper I will dive and try to actually produce something meaningful, work in a notebook and do proper methodical research.

Is it good enough?

I looked at the video that was posted on the OCA website about Dorota Kazmierak’s work and was really impressed. Her quality and voice are striking. She has put so much thought and time in her work which shows in the outcome and quality of the photographs.

Most of the times when I see work that I’m really impressed with I get inspired and want to try harder to come to a point in which I feel that I am doing a good job, but other times I am afraid that my own practice and work will never be good enough. Thoughts come up about not having the right gear, not being creative enough, never taking the time to work on the fine details, not being in the right place, having 4 kids, never finishing anything anyway, having too many other distractions and not being part of an art scene.

I know this is just the negative mind frame that I lock myself up in. Of course there is always room for improvement and there will always be people who do a better job than I do. And that is absolutely fine, very healthy actually. Besides that, shouldn’t creating art be about finding my own style and self? Shouldn’t the time in which I am studying not be a period in which there is room for failure, experimenting and learning?

I do know that I often just happen to photograph in a certain way without really thinking about it beforehand and that my style is going from here to there. I want to spend time to think about the work and styles that I like and admire and strive to create that. It all has to do with taking the time, challenging myself, while staying positive and striving for the highest quality possible.

Doing an art’s degree is so different than any other study: It’s not just working towards an other exam or paper, but about building a skill, developing a voice, having an opinion and create work that evokes. It’s a lot to ask for and not as straightforward as just working through the exercises.

I battle with it, tell myself not to get bogged down and just keep on going. So I’ll pour myself an other cup of coffee, give myself a compliment about having written an other post and carry on!

Words Spent Today buy Smaller Images Tomorrow – Interview with David Levi Strauss

I’m reading Words not Spent Today buy Smaller Images Tomorrow, by David Levi Strauss. It’s a very good read, touching on a lot of the subjects that are discussed in the course. I found an interview in which he talks more about his book. Here are a few quotes that I found particularly interesting:

 There was a critique of documentary photography that happened in the ’70s and ’80s that made it nearly impossible to talk about representations of suffering because it was an “aestheticization of suffering.” At the time, I wondered why the aesthetic was seen to be such a toxic thing. This book is an update of that, where I ask if such critiques are valid any more, and come to the conclusion that they aren’t. The extension of that critique is that you cannot represent other people and their suffering, and I don’t want to live in a world where that is not happening. One of the things that photography has always been able to do is to register a relationship between the person behind and in front of the camera. Even though that is not a straight line to empathy, solidarity, and political change, for a long time in photography it was part of that, and that didn’t just go away. 

To tell a story, you have to slow everything down.

There was a part of me that was angry at George for showing them to me and for having made them, so it got inside that question of representing cruelty for me, uncovering again these questions I thought I had answered for myself. Those images are seared into my brain now, and took me all the way back to being a child just old enough to read when I found a file of images from the Nazi death camps—bodies being moved around with bulldozers. I didn’t know what it represented, quite, because I didn’t know that history yet, but I knew they were important documents of human cruelty. It changed me. Something shifted. There is a deep human need to make a connection. I was not in Rwanda, I did not see that, but I need to know about it and there is a way you can only know about it by seeing it, at least seeing images of it. Seeing is believing. There is no shortage of subject matter for looking at human cruelty, it’s going on all over the world and continues, and we’ve lived through some signal examples of it. George was acting as a witness and he takes that job and role very seriously, and so I had to look again at my responses. Again, I don’t want to live in a world where these kinds of images are not being made, as long as these things are happening in the world.

 The historical record shows clearly that if you try to suppress images, they will come back to haunt you. This is the history of iconoclasm—it really doesn’t work. There are things that people will not accept and will not believe unless they see an image of it. That is so deeply embedded in the human response to the visible world and the world of appearances and the world inside our heads that this is not going to change. The trouble is that these responses are often unconscious, way below the surface, and beyond what is easily accessed, which is what makes images so powerful and so able to control us.


Smith, S. (2011) DAVID LEVI STRAUSS with Jarrett earnest. Available at: (Accessed: 13 November 2016).