Creative Futures Evaluation

Yesterday I reflected on my Final Major Project and now I thought I should reflect on the Creative Futures Module. The purpose of this module is really to help us be prepared for working as a photographer and to complete commercial assignments to a brief.

We have met photographers and artists and interviewed them about their businesses, how they started out and how they keep earning a living. I particularly liked Tom Arran’s advice about doing exactly what you are asked in the brief and then going the extra mile and doing something above and beyond the brief. I was also encouraged to hear Debi Keable talk about making a living as an artist and having confidence to apply for grants. Her advice to get along to meetings and gatherings about the arts was good and something I have taken on board. I hope to be able to get along to more activities in Hull once all my assignments are completed and handed in.

I have worked with a local business and some individuals to fulfil a brief set by them. I spoke to the people from Garthwest at the final exhibition and although the website has been delayed, they are planning to use our photographs on it in the next few weeks. It has been valuable work experience and taking part in this project taught me that things don’t always go to plan so I need to be imaginative in overcoming some of the problems that may come along.

After photographing for the Freedom Festival we had a good chat with the people at a local marketing agency and the things that they will look for and expect of a photographer. Their advice about specialising and becoming the best ‘whatever’ photographer was very good and while still photographing weddings and other things I hope that panoramas and particularly travel/landscapes could become the ‘whatever’ that I am known for.

I have also done both portraits and a couple of weddings as part of this module. All seem to have been completed well and after each of them I have reflected on how I could do it better next time. I am particularly pleased with the latest wedding that I completed with a friend. We have since met and discussed how we might do it better next time (different lenses, less time on certain aspects etc.). We also plan to meet up in a couple of weeks to write a business plan about how we might do weddings together on a more regular basis.

We have been to exhibitions and art galleries and through this and my Final Major Project I have learned a lot about collating a set of images for an exhibition, how to frame and hang prints and also about atmosphere and viewing distances. I need to be precise about the purpose of the exhibition and the story that I want to tell people as they view it.

Alongside all of this I have kept taking photographs whenever I have an opportunity so that I can continue to keep refreshing my portfolio.

I haven’t entered any competitions this year but I plan to enter the Travel Photographer of the Year competition in the autumn. I missed it in 2015.

My eyes have certainly been opened to the complexities and opportunities available within the commercial industry. For me though, the main purpose of joining the BA Photography course was not only to improve my photography but after a number of career knock-backs to also increase my confidence. I certainly feel much more confident now, and have already applied for one grant and am planning to develop a part-time wedding photography business. I have also redeveloped my online presence with a new and updated website that I hope will encourage more people to take on my services.

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Final Major Project Evaluation

As this part of the course draws to a close, I thought it would be good to reflect on my Final Major project as a whole.

The purpose of this subject was to show that we can, individually research and define a creative project, plan it and complete it in good time. We were then to work together as a team to host an exhibition of our final work.

Initially I found it quite difficult to define the project that I wanted to work on and then when my tutor was off work and unwell for a few weeks I was hesitant to move forward until I had received an ‘ok’. After that though I felt like I got really stuck into it. As always, I loved the taking photos part and struggled to keep on top of the theory. I really enjoy reading and writing but given the option of reading or taking photos, taking photos will get my vote every time.

Being disciplined about the theory was actually a valuable lesson for me to learn. Researching other photographers and reading about other theories will help me to define and plan future projects.

I was able to plan my project and even though I didn’t tick things off and check it as regularly as I might have done, I stuck to it fairly well. I was finished in good time and felt un-pressured leading up to the final exhibition and the final hand-in.

Not everything went according to plan. I did have a few issues with the weather but as I built extra time into my project plan it didn’t matter too much. I had planned to take the landscape images on film and I did take a few, and I don’t really remember making the decision to not use film, I think I just saw the quality of the digital panoramas and the project evolved naturally in a digital direction. I had to re-do ‘Boat Building’ as I had taken it from a slightly wrong angle but that was simply an inconvenience and not a problem.

Working with the rest of the class to host an exhibition was a much harder task than completing the project itself. There were a few of us that were keen to make it the best exhibition that we could and a few that were less enthusiastic and didn’t come to many of the classes. It was difficult making decisions that everyone was happy with and as everyone was a bit strapped for cash and no one really wanted to do any fundraising there was a lot of compromising that we needed to do.

This year I had set aside £300 as a budget for the final show and I was able to stick to this – just. My photos were twice the size of everyone else’s and cost more than double that of everyone else, coming it at a whopping £250 for three double A0 sized prints. This allowed me enough room to pay for name stickers and to cover the costs of delivery, proofs and postcards for everyone on the understanding that they would pay me back their share (to date, only half have done that).

I think it worked out ok in the end. Some did more work to the exhibition preparation than others but I think the final show looked very good, everyone’s images worked well together and those that have been to see it have been very positive about it. I may even say that it has been successful!

There are only a couple of things that I think could have been done better. An allocated classroom should be a minimum requirement for any class but a mix up early in the year meant that there were several weeks that we would arrive and not know where the class was being held and then when we were finally allocated a classroom, without a large screen, other students were coming and going, often noisily, to use the computers in the room. It was ok in the end but it wasn’t ideal. Personally, looking back, I am disappointed that I didn’t do more research, as I was reading I kept going off at tangents and there are so many more areas I could have covered and it would have been good to cover more Constable locations, pressure of work and other activities are the only excuses I can give for not doing more.

 

 

 

Through doing this project I have learned a lot that I didn’t know about John Constable and the practicalities of shooting landscapes and panoramas in particular. I have discovered new photographers that I hadn’t heard of before and I have also grown in confidence. I have applied for an arts grant using knowledge gained in this module to help me define and plan the project I want to do.

I have also learned how to do a few more things with Photoshop. I was disappointed last year that we hadn’t learned any Photoshop techniques so this year I spent just a couple of hours with Nathan who taught me how to do the tasks that I needed to do in order to complete this project. In doing this I have learned Photoshop principles that has enabled me to go on and learn other actions that I didn’t previously know about.

Big thanks must go to my tutor Andy Gillatt and to Nathan Pidd who have both guided and encouraged me through the course so far.

I don’t think this is the end of my Constable project. I have enjoyed it very much and  I plan to follow this exhibition with more Constable locations and to create a tourist map/leaflet or perhaps even a mobile phone app that can be used around Flatford to show people the painting locations, then and now. I plan to continue adding to my blog after my coursework has been marked so I will be able to show followers how I get on with this.

Exhibition Reflection

I am very pleased with the way that the exhibition began. With our display being in the reception area of the college and because we wanted a large open space for people to walk around the team overseeing the HSAD degree show agreed to use it for staging the opening speeches. It did mean that when we arrived, the television screen and our table had both been moved so that a small stage to be erected but we had a quick shuffle about and put them where we were happy with them. We also removed all the tables and chairs from the common areas so that people had the necessary viewing distance needed to get the best view of our images. I was disappointed to see that one of the group had brought in their own table and moved their postcards and pen portrait away from everyone else’s and put them by their own work, this wasn’t what we had a agreed as a group and simply highlighted that they were doing their own thing. We decided to leave it and not cause a fuss at this stage, finally adding a vase of flowers to the table that held our own postcards. Then we were ready.

People were looking around our photographs while they were waiting for the show to open and I could already hear some positive comments.

The show was opened by Douglas Dunn, a poet that studied at Hull University and wrote a book of poems about Terry Street, the street that he lived on while he was here. He is now a professor at St Andrews University in Scotland. He spoke some very encouraging words and then an actor read a couple of his poems before visitors were encouraged to visit some of the other exhibition areas.

I hung around the photography area for about an hour, talking to some of the people that we had invited and generally chatting with visitors. I received some great comments about the exhibition in general with many saying that they hadn’t seen such a strong collection of images at a degree show in a long time and that the large sized prints really showed the photos off at their best quality. A few people had written in our guest book and their comments were also very positive.

Personally, all the comments I received were very encouraging and supportive. People were saying how great my photos looked on the wall and remarking at the detail in them. I did think that maybe a copy of the original painting nearby would have given the photos more context so that they would have required less explanation but perhaps I will do that if I exhibit them again anywhere. I also wondered if I should have had the explanation about my own work next to my photos but in the end I agreed with our decision to not do that and to let people see the work, make their own mind up about it and then come back to it if they wanted to.

I had brought some family along to see the show, including my brother, a tour guide for the National Trust who volunteers around Flatford and encouraged me throughout the course. He was very taken, particularly with The Hay Wain and has offered to purchase it. I think a loan may be better with a promise to return it to me for short periods if I arrange to exhibit it in other places.

I was very pleased to see Roland Gift, singer with the Fine Young Cannibals walking through the degree show even if no one else on the course was old enough to know who he was! One of the group had invited Peter Levy, presenter and reporter at Look North to see the show and he seemed to be pleased to call in after his broadcast.

Before people began to slope off there was time for a few quick photographs of most of the group together for almost the last time.

I had hoped to pop in and see the Year 2 exhibition and another exhibition that launched at the HIP Gallery but I was talking with people so much that I didn’t have time. I went instead to meet up with some family for a celebratory supper feeling quite pleased with myself!

Later on Facebook, I received another string of positive and encouraging comments from people who had not been able to attend the launch event. My work was also among some that caught the eye of one Twitter journalist. I feel quite proud of what I have achieved.

 

 

 

Final Major Project Reflection 19

I thought I would do an update today on how we are getting on with the exhibition promotion. It is frustratingly not going as planned.

Before Easter we were to take a still life photograph that illustrated our own part of the exhibition but was not going to be part of the actual exhibition. You can see mine here. Everyone on the group was supposed to send me a copy of their image by 12th May and I would use them to design a series of posters that we could use to publicise the event.

To date I have still only received one image. One person has contacted me to say that they will not be sending me anything as they don’t feel that their image reflects their project well enough and thinks it may confuse people rather than lead them to the exhibition. Other than that, despite several group chat requests I have not received anything else.

With only mine and Anete’s photos to use I have produced the following posters.

I used a similar layout and style to last year as this seemed to work well and it builds on our established brand.

I had planned to have these printed professionally on glossy paper but given the tight timescale and the lack of enthusiasm from the rest of the group I don’t think we have the time to do that now. Disappointingly I think we will need to print them out on copier paper and make do with that.

In my frustration I put together an excel spreadsheet of what everyone needs to do for the exhibition and for when. Given the attitude from everyone else in the group I don’t suppose anyone will take any notice let alone read it, but it made me feel better. I have suggested that the person in charge of social media uploads these images to the Facebook page, and then made suggestions for other daily entries. But seeing as they have not posted anything on there so far I expect Anete and I will end up doing that too.

I have set up an event on Eventbrite and linked it to a Facebook event, this will give the group the option to invite people using both social media and email. I have sent the Facebook event invite to my contacts once and will send to them all again a week or so before the launch.

In addition I have opened up a KingdomEvent account and created some really smart email invitations that we can use to send to specific individuals. Apart from the first few free ‘stamps’ each invitation costs money which Anete and I have paid for between us, enabling us to have sent that personalised invitation to more that 60 people. Event Kingdom has a handy database that tracks who has received an invite, who has read and opened the email and also who has responded that they are coming.

We straight away had about three people tell us that they couldn’t come for various reasons, but all wished us luck with the exhibition. A few responded that they were coming immediately and most haven’t responded as yet. I intend to send the invitation again to everyone who has not responded a week before the exhibition and then send another message to all of those that have responded positively on the morning of the exhibition saying that we are looking forward to seeing them later. This should remind anyone who has forgotten about us.

Between us, Anete and I have invited almost everyone that we have come into contact with throughout the course. All of these people have been a part of our journey and should be offered the opportunity to see the final outcome of it.

The other thing that has been happening this week is that Erin has been putting together a video that highlights some of our other work. It will be played on a loop on a screen next to our information table at the exhibition.

I think Erin has done a really good job with this and it shows what everyone is doing very clearly. I like the range of images that everyone has included I think that it is a very nice collection of photographs.

At the beginning of the week we received proofs of our photographs from Ditto 4 Design. There were a few issues with a mark on one person’s photo which Ditto confessed was their fault. The major problem was that some people had submitted images in sRGB colour which is great for on screen and on websites but a printer uses CMYK colour. The difference was causing a loss of detail in some of the darker areas on some of the images. There was a bit of confusion with some group members saying that they would withdraw their images but once the people concerned had worked out how to make the changes they were uploaded again and we were all back on track.

Final Major Project Reflection 17

This week I have been contemplating what I have been learning about Constable. I have known his name for as long as I can remember and I have tramped or rowed around Constable country for more hours than I can count but I have never really known anything about him other than that he is a painter.

Although I had known the Hay Wain and even completed a tapestry (it is now retired to the attic) of it a few years ago I had never studied it and never made the effort to visit it in person.

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Constable’s Hay Wain Sketch
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Constable’s Hay Wain

When I visited London the other week I had the chance to see both the sketch and the final painting. As you would expect, the sketch was much rougher than the original but still a worthy painting. While the final painting was much more detailed than I had imaged it would be.

iPhone-18I had read that there were a number of people in the painting but it was only up close that I could make out all the people in the background gathering in the corn. Even the man in the boat is quite difficult to see in some prints.

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I had been told how Constable changed things in his painting as he went along and spotted this barrel beneath the ripples in the ford, itself painted over a boy on a horse as can be seen in the sketch above.

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I wrote a blog entry about Constable’s biography a few days ago and wrote about how in 1821 he had planned to enter a scene of Waterloo Bridge into the Royal Academy’s Annual Exhibition but at the last minute changed his mind and quickly created the Hay Wain. This bottom left corner of the painting shows the hurried brush strokes Constable used and that makes the painting almost look unfinished especially compared to some of his other works.

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I thought Boat Building was a nice painting, smaller than I was anticipating but very detailed. I didn’t study it for long though because I was really taken with Salisbury Cathedral.

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I thought the light was great, the detail was fantastic and I really like the way the Cathedral is framed by the trees. I like too that Constable has included his friend Revd John Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury in the bottom left corner walking through the church grounds with his daughter.

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It is this painting of the Cenotaph to the Memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds that I think is my favourite. I had not noticed it before in any of the books that I have been reading but when I saw it in the gallery I just had to stop for several minutes and have a closer look. It felt like I was looking at a photograph it was so detailed and realistic.

The Cenotaph is in the grounds of Coleorton House in Leicestershire where it was erected by Sir George Beaumont in memory of English painter Joshua Reynolds. The bust on the left is of Michelangelo while that on the right is Raphael.

I now have a real fondness for Constable, not just because of the familiarity of the Hay Wain and the Essex/Suffolk countryside but I now also have a great respect for his talent and his determination to stick with the subject matter that mattered to him despite it being unfashionable. Apart from his paintings he lived a real life love-story that surely any girl is going to fall for!

What is a Landscape?

When I initially thought about my Final Major Project I didn’t really want to do landscapes. There are other talented people in the class that are doing landscapes and I didn’t want to compete. I wanted to find something a bit different and unique but this week it has got me thinking about what exactly a landscape photograph is.

The Oxford Dictionary describes ‘landscape‘ as;

‘All the visible features of an area of land, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal.’

The Oxford Dictionary also says that the word derived from a 16th century dutch word; lantscap made up of lant meaning land and scap meaning ship. It was a general word meaning a picture of scenery.

These definitions are very broad and I wondered if there is anything more profound or academic about landscape photography so I checked out the Landscape Photographer of the Year website. I couldn’t find a definition for landscape photography but rules for entry included this statement;

“We are looking for an image that captures the beauty and variety of the UK landscape. An iconic view; a view along a cliff-side path or of a historic village; a view down a valley; an urban skyline or snow-capped peaks; maybe showing the drama of our seasons. Recognisable and memorable; a true classic.”  Classic View Definition

Another category, Urban Landscapes similarly describes cityscapes and country towns, accepting anything that is urban and of the outdoors. David Bate in his book ‘Photography’ suggests further ‘scapes’ including gardenscapes, suburbanscapes, ariel scapes, panoramascapes and even cupboardscapes describing them as different types of spaces. Also pointing out the many different uses of landscape photography from tourism, urban planning and military reconnaissance. He concludes that landscape is an historical term that encompasses human perceptions of idealised nature. (Bate, 2016)

From this I can conclude that I am taking traditional landscape photographs. Constable was famous for his iconic landscape paintings and in trying to reproduce them in photographic form I have ended up taking the very type of landscape photograph that I didn’t want to do!

However, on further reflection the subject may be traditional but the presentation and methods I am using to produce these landscapes is far from it. The most obvious thing is that I will am using multiple images, shot in digital raw format, that are being stitched together to form one detailed image.

I have actually really enjoyed getting out and around Flatford and looking at the landscape in a way that I haven’t before. Growing up near there I absorbed lots of information about the place but could never talk about Constable with any confidence but through this process I am much more knowledgeable.

I have lots of memories of the area (my brother as a baby crawling over the side of the boat my dad was rowing along the river, walking through fields of cows, feeding the ducks, eating ice-cream) and the scenes are homely and comfortable to me, they have connotations of a happy childhood but now I can also relate much better to Constable as I walk about.

I find time in the open spaces of the countryside and large open blue skies therapeutic and a great way to clear my head and order my thoughts.

Liz Wells quotes Constable as saying “By a close observation of nature [the artist] discovers qualities… which have never been portrayed before’ (p23). I certainly think that through this project I have had an opportunity to observe nature closely and in focussing on capturing the countryside in detail I hope I have been able to portray something new about it to viewers.

References:

  • Bate, D. (2016) Photography: The key concepts, Second edition. United Kingdom: Berg Publishers.
  • Wells, Liz. (2011) Land Matters, Landscape, Photography, Culture and Identity. London: I B Tauris & Co Ltd.