Monday, 28 October 2013

Assignment Four Critical Review - Essay - Ideas and Research

Assignment 4 is to research and write about photography. According to the course by now I should have a clearer idea about my own photography and what I like. When trying to analyse this in some ways I do and in others I don't!

I know what my weakness' are for sure, I don't like to use flash or artificial lighting, am better at taking photographs of stationary objects, prefer candid unaware portraits rather than posed, crowds...why do I get nothing but a view of backs of people heads and nothing of interest? I do use a variety of lenses, I do experiment with shutter speed and aperture. I either seem to prefer a really shallow DoF or a large DoF. In between seems a bit bleugh. (like the technical term?) When looking at other peoples images I don't mind softer/grainy images but prefer mine to be sharp.

My likes? Well in that respect I actually have a varied taste. I like landscape, though not brilliant at capturing landscapes myself, like street photography, surrealism/manipulation really fascinates me as does the increasing trend towards mixed media.After seeing the recent Motherhood exhibition I realise I don't enjoy nudity for the sake of it, though having said that I do really love Robert Mapplethorpe and you don't get more controversial or naked than that! Am happy to look at any genre although steer away from pretty kittens or vases of flowers unless they actually have more of a message to send other than don't I look nice.

Looking through the suggested ideas:

  • Technological developments and their impact on the market for photography
  • New vehicles for photography - mixed media environments
  • Representations of gender, race and ethnicity in photography
  • The display and exhibition of photography
  • Photography and control - power relations between photographer, subject and audience
  • Photography that deceives - disinformation through photography
  • Histories of Photography, eg postmodernism, surrealism, war photography or a multidisciplinary field such as anthropology or scientific photography.

I decided that I wanted to investigate the use of mixed media, not so much the video/gallery/Internet type more the use of collage, installation and ephemera. How does this affect display, storage etc. On contacting my tutor he thought this would be a very interesting topic to research and write about.

Flicking through my learning logs came up with several artists to look into,John Stezaker, Noemie Goudal, Luis Gispert, Laura Letinsky, Mishka Henner, Christina de Middel, Nicole Wermers, Sara VanDerBeek,  Broomberg and Chanarin, William Klein and Jim Goldberg to name a few. I really appreciated my learning logs, this exercise emphasising just how important it is to take notes and images where you can and that visiting many exhibitions has more than one benefit.

Pages from my learning logs with exhibition leaflets and postcards, annotations are either around the image, behind or on the back of the cards.

As I looked into academic writings to use to give my essay legitimacy there were not many essays or articles concerning the exact aspect that I wanted to cover, over the following weeks my ideas gradually evolved, I emails 2 academics/photographers who were interested in this field ( I won't name them) but neither responded which was disappointing. I narrowed the photographer's down that I wanted to mention, found some books/book sections and articles in journals that I could quote/ use as references and set about writing. I have to admit it took a long time to do so fingers crossed that it gets favourable feedback. It followed a set structure of paragraphs with a title, introductory paragraph, historical introduction, outline of argument, body of argument and conclusion. All within a remit of approximately 2000 words.

A selection of the books and web resources used during research

When completed I set it aside for a few days, gave it to 2 different people to read to make sure it made sense and that my referencing technique was ok. Harvard referencing is NOT plain sailing! After a few suggestions and altering a few bits myself it was ready to submit. Proofreading is difficult when you read what you think is there rather than what you have actually typed. I hit the send button a few weeks ago and am still awaiting feedback. As soon as I get a response I'll either be smiling or crying! I'll keep you all updated!


  1. Sounds like you did a fair bit of research for your essay - I'm sure you will do well. I'm doing the reading and researching bit myself for the critical essay on the same course as you. I'm hoping all the reading will come together in my head somehow and an essay will come from it - not so sure though!

  2. Good luck, it was hard work but in a masochistic way I also enjoyed it. I found that while I had the idea of onne thing as I wrote what I wanted to say and found quotes to back me up or argue against, it morphed into something slightly different but equally as valid....or hope so anyway, I must chase my tutor for feedback. I' struggling with the last assignment, covering an event. I've done a couple of trial runs at things that aren't strictly "events" and have been disappointed with my shot selections....

  3. Your illustrations are are good - just goes to show how useful a learning log can be! Best of luck with it.

  4. Thanks :o) I used my learning log from DPP which goes to show things keep their relevance. I have now got my feedback which I'm pleased with and just off to update my post to say so :o)