Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Assignment 1: tutor feedback

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I should have done this a few weeks ago when I first got my feedback from my tutor, but I got caught up in cracking on with the Part 2 exercises and have left this until now. In fact, it was starting to think about Assignment 2 that reminded me that I never covered off the debrief from Assignment 1!

Anyway: better late than never.

The feedback was generally positive, much to my relief. I presume that all OCA students experience a little apprehension when sending off the first assignment on any course. Well I certainly did.

The opening statement was that this was a good start to the module, with a few small technical issues, “mainly related to explaining why you make certain decisions. It is the conceptual thinking behind these decisions that is at the heart of making the switch to degree level learning”.

The main points of feedback that I need to work on:

  • I don’t shoot enough
    • I settle on choosing an image from too small a selection of shots taken
    • The tutor recommended a book on Magnum Contact Sheets [1] that laid bare the contact sheets of several illustrious photographers over the last century, and I’ve found this absolutely fascinating, a real eye-opener… they really don’t get the right shot first time, and have a ‘hit rate’ much lower than I expected. And if the professionals work like that, I need to give myself many more options when I shoot so  that I can select the best image at the editing stage
    • I didn’t help myself on this by accidentally deleting a lot of my outtakes, so my contact sheets were minimal and it appeared as if I’d shot even less than I had
  • I need to be wary of different crops and aspect ratios
    • Consistent aspect ratio helps a series of images hang together better
    • There needs to be a good reason for a variety of crop ratios (not sure my reasons were justifiable enough)
  • One of my images (‘blunt’) didn’t really hit the brief well enough
    • I knew this… but I let it go; with hindsight I’d have found an alternative image or chosen another word pair

The other comment that I took on board was that I am still trying a variety of photographic genres, and have yet to settle on my own style. Given how early I am in my studies, I’m comfortable with this.

All in all, I was pleased with the feedback and grateful for the pointers for improvement.

1. Lubben, K. 2011. Magnum Contact Sheets. London: Thames & Hudson

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