As directed by the course introduction here are my thought about the strengths and weaknesses of my assignment versus the assessment criteria:
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
Rather than chase traditional aesthetic goals of well exposed, classily composed photographs my strategy from the outset by relinquishing direct control of framing and camera controls was to arrive at images that would not necessarily be classed as orthodox. I wanted to sacrifice image quality in the hope that something else may be gained such as a sense of immediacy or drama. Some of the feedback received stated that it is not obvious from the images about the approach I have chosen with one student describing a modernist feel to the pictures. For me, there are many shots that I would not have captured in a conventional way which suggests my shooting approach has merit and the excitement of the project was finding happy accidents amongst the many pictures.
For example this image:
A cardboard cut-out of a policeman staring blankly out of the window as a laughable attempt to deter shoplifters. The shadow that covers him is unmistakeably a CCTV camera which can either be read as the real deterrent to crime or a symbol of enforced conformity through fear of being watched.
Quality of outcome
As I mention in my assignment submission, there are many different choices I could have taken and I may even choose differently in the future. As a set, the photographs work together and in my mind, represent the sense of alienation that is a feature of our current times. As the images deliberately have no captions, I expect the individual viewer responses would be varied. From my peer feedback, I was surprised by some reactions to images that I had almost discounted and this helped me see them in a different way myself, I was pleased my intent to focus on the natural ambiguity of the photographic image through this project appeared to be successful. At the point of writing, I am too close to the images and fear I see things in them that simply are not there and I am pinning conceptual tags upon them that are at best exaggerated. Ultimately, however, it has been the process rather than the output which has been the main success for me through this assignment – I feel like I have gone through a journey of experimentation in both practical and theoretical terms and arrived at a way of working that I hope will be worthwhile pursuing again in the future.
Demonstration of creativity
I think the process I arrived at has elements of creativity, however, I am not sure how much is demonstrated by the images themselves. Looking back, I have arrived at a recognisable aesthetic of street photography and while this is a development for me personally the work potentially relies on these conventions to be understood. By focusing on the rundown and derelict I am also potentially guilty of reinforcing the cliché of ‘it’s grim up North’, this sort of aesthetic is ultimately one-dimensional. The project is spurring me on to continue my self-examination into my relationship with my local area – by thinking hard about this I have realised that it is my own prejudices, pre-conceived notions and self-criticism that have led to this simplistic view. There are problems in my local area but there is also much to enjoy, the people on a whole being a part of that. This work demonstrates an apathy that I think is felt by many others not just me, the search for a realistic portrait of Stanley would have elements of light and shade as well as much more complexity than I am showing.
Although I had a strong set of influences, particularly street photography, I do not think I have slavishly tried to imitate them, rather, they have spurred me on to make the work. Continuing to look at artists is perhaps the most important part of my personal development as a photographer.
I have doubts about my report to accompany the images – I am unsure about how academic this should be and I have deliberately tried to write something that describes both my motivations and how the project has developed. I also have not provided individual commentary if the images, this is not something I feel was required but I wonder how I am able to demonstrate what the images say to me without this. Whether I need to show more context via referencing readings I have made through this section is something I will discuss with my tutor.