This is an interesting and creative way to approach this brief Samantha, well done. Objects can have a powerful impact on a viewer if presented in an appropriate way and I like the way that you have attached, clearly personal, ideas to something as simple as the handkerchief. Technically, the images are looking pretty good and you have managed to communicate a clear narrative in a relatively small number of images.
I understand your aim is to go for the Photography/Creative Arts* 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, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.
Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
If you continue to work in a similar way in the future, have a think about how you might achieve a staged aesthetic that moves beyond the illustration of a moment within a narrative and towards a reading that invites the viewer to consider your images in ways that still adhere to your narrative but also take them on other mini visual and conceptual journeys. For example, could you put together an image that is clearly staged but maintains a level of realism that draws the viewer in to thinking that this is an actual event – oddly this connection to reality can help to increase the staged nature of the moment and in doing so inviting the viewer to consider the status of photography as a truthful account of the everyday?
While talking about individual images, I will try to suggest ways that you might create this balance between real and staged.
This is a good opener and in terms of the narrative, clearly introduces a ‘character’ and a ‘scene’. This is good because in order for your audience to make the connection between an inanimate object and a real life difficult situation, your audience needs to have some kind of empathy towards your object.
The dappled sunlight works well and the nature of the light places the scene in the early morning or twilight – both evocative times of day. This lighting also creates an almost romantic or melancholic feel to the setup.
That said, I wonder if the handkerchief could have been much more dirty and downtrodden? This might help to increase the empathy towards it and also would act as a contrast to the final image – as they are, at present, very similar. If these two ‘book-ending’ images are slightly different, it would help to emphasise the idea that the handkerchief is about to embark on another adventure after this one. It would also mean that the picture would look less obviously staged allowing the narrative to build and the staged nature of the series to gradually evolve rather than be so clearly set out at the beginning.
Technically, this image works well and the use of a shallow depth of field means that our focus is very much on the central character. The action that you have chosen to use within the image is powerful and suggestive of a violent act towards the object rather than a helpful one.
Another possibility for a second image might have been to introduce your second character rather than go back to the handkerchief immediately? Imagine the scene, a shady figure, perhaps seen from behind in near silhouette, walking down the sun-dappled road – perhaps looking like he is stalking somebody?
This one, again, looks too staged. Could another approach be top photograph the machine in the middle of its washing cycle and perhaps form further away? A figure in the background?
You have done well technically with this photograph. Sunlight on a white object is difficult to capture while maintaining good contrast and not blowing out the lighter areas.
This is a nice moment to introduce, this is the height of the elevation of the status of the object – it can’t get any better than this, white, washed, pressed and on display. Are there ways that you could emphasise this moment even further? Could the character be at an important event? Could it be shown being admired by somebody else?
Again a little too stage. A simple way to counteract might be to introduce a slower shutter speed to highlight the movement of the cleaning action or as a last resort adding motion blur in post-production?
I like the fact that the object is about to be returned to the same place as it was found and even more so as it appears that it is an accidental return. When you are photographing somebody who is supposed to be walking, it is better to get them to actually walk rather than attempt to hold a mid-walk pose. Could you have made the object slightly less of a significant part of the frame?
It was a good idea to change the look of this final image but I wonder if it could be a little more different to the first picture (as I have suggested earlier). Perhaps a slightly different angle?
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
Our coursework is going well, keep it up.
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
You need to work on this aspect of your work. The assessors will want to see plenty of evidence that you are looking at (in the flesh if possible) and reading lots of other material. They will also be looking for your own thoughts on these things and how they relate to you own work – this is a really important part of your learning.
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
Have a look at the ‘Research and Reflection’ section in relation to the comments about your research above.
Have a look at the incredibly well made photographs of Gregory Crewdson in relation to the staging of photographs. I know that the production values that he achieves are out of reach for most of us but he manages to create an obviously staged image that still manages to draw us in and at times take us to another imaginative space.
Seamus Nicholson restages moments from memory and manages to achieve a very natural and ‘real’ feel. His use of flash lighting is also incredible.
I made a piece of video work some years ago that has at its heart the notion of –re-staging. It is called, The Argument and you can see it here – https://vimeo.com/44122022
Pointers for the next assignment / assessment
- More research of all types of photographs
- Broaden your understanding of contemporary photography by lots of further reading of key texts – Camera Lucida, On Photogrpahy, Photography: Key Concepts etc. These should also be reflected on in your learning log.