It is strange to think that the last three years are the last three years. It has been an incredible experience; I have learned so much during this time and believe that I am now a better photographer and better placed to affect a successful entry into the industry. This project is the culmination of the three years covering everything from Contextual Debate, Creative Language through to Portfolio Development; as such I have consciously and sub consciously brought all of that learning to bear.
I have recently given my project the title ‘Mirror – Mirror’ to reflect (no pun intended) the fact that I have used a mirror in my exhibition display and to reflect the folk story / fairy tale theme of my project.
In planning and executing the project there have been areas that have been successful and some less so but all have added to my experience, knowledge and skills.
The planning could and should have been a lot tighter as could the execution. Whilst I am pleased that I visualised and realised the imagery I am disappointed with the quality of some of the output. I had conducted a print test of a selection of the images on high grade fine art paper and ordered a full set of images at the appropriate sizes expecting them to be of the same quality. For some reason, they were printed on a large-scale roll print and I have had insufficient time to get them reprinted how I want but will do so before the Free-Range exhibition.
I did not use a professional model agency to provide me with models for my shoots. This led to various issues such as shoots being cancelled and models agreeing to a shoot but then changing their minds. Although I had agreed with a hairdresser to perform high end hair and make-up this would have meant that the images would have been more ‘Fashion’ than the more natural imagery I wanted. I have spoken to them about this and the option is available for the future.
The design aspects of the show, although yet to be realised, has been another learning point. I have tried to use some of the tricks employed by Wolfgang Tillmans marrying both large scale imagery to make the viewer step back a little to see it and smaller more detailed imagery to draw them back in. In this way, it becomes more of an experience and installation rather than a simple display of identically sized images. I have also used different (old) frames and three different output types: a large scale sticky back image that will adhere to the wall; a self-adhesive transparent vinyl image of Ariana on a mirror; and, the framed printed images.
The actual build process of the exhibition hall has also an experience and demonstrated the need for ensuring that all the equipment, materials and personnel required were made available in advance. Also, the planning, instructions and demonstrations were all in place and of a high standard. Consideration to how much space is required collectively and individually is also a key element. In the main the Loan store had all this covered although they have had to update and modify their build plan as it was inaccurate. In hindsight, I think a list of hints and tips for the build would be useful for future student bodies.
The third year of this course has been an eye opener on many levels. Although the main emphasis of this year is one of self-direction it has been coupled with tutor led insights into our work and the industry. This has helped me understand key production processes and the difference between various technologies and the value of active networking in the industry with other industry professionals. I will maintain my membership of the Photographers Gallery, the Tate Modern, The V&A and will attend as many exhibitions and talks as I can. I will also continue my technical development by taking part in on-line seminars and training as well as undertaking a Master’s degree (Part-time). In addition the importance of researching into the history and work of other photographers both contemporary and historical has been brought home to me and I will continue to build my research library which is currently about 200 strong. All of which will allow me to develop my style and position myself in this industry.
I plan to investigate the procurement of a 10×8 plate camera, learn how to use it and develop the images myself. This will include setting up a studio and darkroom. Inspiration for this has come from seeing the output from a project by Jack Lowe on his 5 year RNLI Lifeboat project (Lowe, 2017) photographing all 238 lifeboat stations using a 1905 large format camera. I will also be looking at expanding my use of analogue technologies, both 35mm and medium format.
My work on my Degree Essay has led me to re-evaluate the professionalism of photojournalists to the extent that I plan to build this into my street photography practice. The need to continuously bring stories into the public domain and to highlight human tragedies, conflict, humanitarian crisis doesn’t abate and is one that I will attempt to contribute to.
My final project was a real challenge for me as it took me outside of my comfort zone and forced me to learn new skills and to think and plan the shoots involving a group of individuals not just myself. During the project, I considered altering and changing the project but decided to continue with it and to meet the challenges straight on. The challenge will not end here as I plan to continue with this project over the next few years to develop a high-quality set of images and hopefully publish and /or exhibit them.
With my project, I have tried to create a set of images that allow the viewer to develop their own story or narrative and to interpret them in the way that suits them. I do think, however, that my images do show classis elements of fairy tales and have hidden messages of good and evil, they also show innocence, sorrow and pain.
My overall assessment / evaluation of my project is in the range 70 – 79. I am obviously aiming for a First overall. My learning on the other hand has been through the roof.
Lowe, J. (2017). The Lifeboat Station Project. http://lifeboatstationproject.com/about/