Assignment 1 – Self Assessment

_FJ12947bwDemonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

It was important to create a bland, ordinary atmosphere around the series, I wanted to encourage contemplation of the landscape from an objective, documentary viewpoint. To achieve this I chose a “dead-pan” approach to both composition and post processing. This, in itself, presented a technical challenge as it is not a style I have used regularly in the past.

The desaturated final images, flat white skies and the low contrast in most of the images underline the ordinariness of the locations which is an important objective of the series. However, my overall assessment is that the photographs are acceptable without being exceptional, which falls short of my goal. Looking back I feel that more time was needed to be spent at each location with a greater level of patience to wait for the right lighting conditions.

On balance I think the technical aspects of the submission are disappointing.

I am less disappointed by my visual awareness and composition. Buildings are always challenging to photograph but I was satisfied with the variety of compositional angles and my use of the frame. Eighteen months of study and looking closely at the work of Eggleston, Shore, Koudelka and many others has sharpened my observational skills.

Quality of Outcome

Technical issues aside I am satisfied by the content and presentation of the final work. Blogs are a tremendous way of recording progress but the final presentation of a series is always limited by the framework offered by the blog software. In this instance I believe I found ways to communicate the narrative coherently within those constraints.

There is a theory that an excess of strength becomes a weakness and my approach to research and development might be an example of this. I have to plan, research and develop an assignment over an extended period of time to enable me to conceptualise the work and build towards communicating  the idea. However, this has a tendency to become too drawn out with the process overwhelming the objective. But, in this case, I was pleased with how the assignment evolved from my initial thoughts about traces into, what feels like, a strong documentary piece.

I was especially keen to bring elements of late photography to the piece as the work of a number of late photographers have strongly influenced my work over the last two months. (as described in Assignment 1 – Research and Development)

Demonstration of Creativity

The main experimentation is presentational, the idea of a single image inherently containing two different perspectives of the same story is, at least, a different approach to the subject.

I have experimented with the desaturated, simple compositional style often described as “dead-pan”. Additionally, this is the first assignment I have completed using a Fuji XT-1 instead of my normal Nikon D800. I mention this because the smaller camera and being restricted to a single lens choice definitely changed my approach to the shoots. I am in two minds as to whether it was an advantage or a disadvantage for the type of subjects I was looking at.


One of the refreshing features of the Context and Narrative course is that the suggested research streams and the exercises lead naturally towards the assignment. This was not always true in TAoP. This meant that the research and development of the assignment and the suggested study stream for the course were mostly on a single trajectory. I still need to document the research associated with creating a manipulated image and to complete the shoot for this image but I have a clear idea that I want to pursue.

Overall I am happy with the research in this section of the course and have enjoyed looking at the issues surrounding documentary photography.

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