On Monday 13th February I had a telephone conversation with my tutor Simon Barber. The purpose of this was to introduce ourselves to each other, for Simon to talk about some ways of working/house keeping and for me to talk about my aims for the course, interests and ask any questions. Here are a few notes and thoughts:
Simon expressed the importance of maintaining momentum throughout the course and trying to avoid working in fits and starts. I was glad this was brought up as it something that is the forefront of my mind as I have the ambitious aim of completing the course in just over a year. (Ambitious because I have come nowhere near this time frame with my previous courses and the move to level 2 could potentially take more time, not less.) I explained that I had broken down the course into time allowed for each section and asked for his support to try and keep me on track. We agreed on a deadline of 3rd April 2017 for my first assignment – this is a little earlier than my personal deadline but one that I am confident is achievable, and I gladly accepted the challenge of Simon’s deadline – achieving it (or not) will be a good indication of how well I am doing with my time keeping.
Understanding the course notes:
Simon asked if I had familiarised myself with the course notes which I had. He impressed the importance of reading the notes carefully and using them as a jumping off point into further research. I have read through all of the notes and broken down section 1 in some detail so feel glad that this is the right approach and time well spent.
Simon talked about the importance of recording my learning journey on my blog and that it is essential to record personal responses. Again, posting more to my blog is something that I aim to do – as a good example I would not previously have written a record like this!
Simon asked if I used the student forums, and although I do my contributions are limited – again this is something I want to improve. He mentioned the need to share work with fellow students as a way of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. He also said that being confident in showing work is something that needs to be worked on this becomes increasingly important as students progress towards level 3.
Jump to level 2:
Simon asked if I was ready for the jump to level 2 – the main difference being the need to be more self directed in study and photography. I replied that I felt I was and had been gaining inspiration from photographers working methods gained from my reading. It struck me that many photographers/artists begin with an idea or strategy about how to work and their projects followed on from this – many of these only become fully realised in the editing process. My approach in the past has been to try and come up with a fully formed idea before embarking on a project which can lead to inflexibility. I am keen to develop my documentary projects through experimentation and to see how ideas come out of this.
Simon mentioned the need to send prints for the assignment one and asked if I was ok with this, after a short discussion I felt reassured that I was on the right track for what is required. I talked about my desire to experiment with different photographic formats, for example low resolution digital cameras, and that the pursuit of pristine quality is something that no longer motivates me. He replied that there was nothing wrong with ‘low’ quality images providing there is a reason to employ this and it is not just for the sake of it. I am not sure I got across what I meant here – I was thinking about how a photographer like Daido Moryiama produces work that although lacking in conventional aesthetic conventions possesses an immediacy.
I talked a little about my ideas for assignment one and how I want to explore what community means to me. Although I have lived most of my life in the area where I have now settled I have little contact with my immediate community in a traditional sense. My children go to school in the area and both mine and my wife’s parents live nearby but we rarely use the local facilities, most of our friends live outside the area and we spend most of our leisure time outside of our immediate surroundings. I said I was interested in experimenting with taking choice away from pressing the shutter as part of this assignment and one idea I had was to use my cameras intervalometer with the camera set at a fixed point or use a small spy/time lapse camera attached to me as I walk around the local area. Simon seemed interested in these ideas and was encouraging about exploring them. He mentioned work by Simon Roberts (When did you last cry? 2011) and Broomberg and Chanarin (The day nobody died, 2008) to look at. I am aware of some of Simon Roberts work but not the series mentioned and I had studied Broomberg and Chanarin as part of UVC so recognised the work referred to. I will certainly revisit both of these series as part of my research.
This was the first time I had tried to articulate my ideas for this assignment and I was immediately struck by how I need to practice/work on being able to put my ideas across. I think Simon got the general idea of what I am aiming to do but I am sure I could have expressed myself more clearly and concisely.
I asked at the end of the call what kind of contact Simon would expect as I felt I had not used my tutor as a resource enough in the past. He reassured me that I should drop him a line if there was anything burning I needed to ask -and that if I was contacting too often he would let me know!
Making this initial contact has been a positive and an important first step to building a relationship with Simon, one that I hope continues to develop through the course.