Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Assignment 1: Contrasts – initial thoughts

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Having completed the exercises in Part 1: The Frame, my attention now turns to the Part 1 Assignment: Contrasts. I’ve been thinking (but only thinking) about it on and off, and have scribbled down thoughts as they occurred to me. I’ve read over the assignment brief, looked at how a few other people have tackled the assignment and surfed the OCA forums looking for nuggets of advice.

The purpose of this post is to structure some of these initial thoughts in a way that helps me to plan the assignment in earnest. I’ll refer back to these notes as I progress through the assignment, to make sure I don’t lose sight of my initial thoughts on the brief (even if I completely change tack before the end!)

What I need to keep in mind:

  • The assessment criteria, obviously
  • The images need to have intrinsic visual interest, not just fulfil the brief of contrasting pairs – I need photos that you’d want to look at twice
  • How does my tutor interpret the assignment objective? Can he give me any pointers?
  • I need to get out of my comfort zone!
  • The images need to take on board everything I’ve covered in Part 1 (framing, composition, balance, format, cropping etc); in a sense I need to see this assignment as a framework to demonstrate the learning to date, not as an unrelated standalone exercise

Content thoughts:

  • I’m working on the contrasting pairs to be matching in terms of theme and look/feel (colouring, tone, lighting, format etc) – as I want them to work together visually when put side-by-side
  • I also want the images to very clearly depict the contrasting pair words – to the point that they would work without captions – as long as they are seen side-by-side
  • And yet… need to avoid cliché – don’t be too obvious – be creative but not overly obscure
  • I’m considering trying for all of the 17 pictures to have a (loose) theme that connects them, such as location, subject matter? if I can…
  • Further to this thought: I’ve been working in Vienna for the last several months, but only for a few more weeks… and idly wondering whether I could do a series of shots based on the architecture and public spaces in the city? Not sure yet, but it’s worth investigating

Random other thoughts:

  • I need to plan ahead! I can’t rely on wandering around and spotting the right subjects
  • I need to get better at making notes when I’m out scouting and shooting; so far I’ve relied on remembering what was going through my mind at the time of shooting and writing it all up after the event… not sure I can carry on like that
  • I should shoot more than I think I need, have some spares so I can select the best ones at the end

That’s it for now.

Next up: go through some old shots to identify some contrasting pairs in my existing portfolio…


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