Looking at the Work of Other OCA Students

I have mainly concentrated on the work of photographers unrelated to the OCA, either from independent learning or the suggested documentary-related photographers referenced in the course. However, I have been asked to look at some other OCA students work whose projects are about to reach their intended audience. I would say I was quite looking forward to this project as not only do I get to see some projects which have been produced by fellow students but more importantly, the work is to a standard that enables it to be appreciated by its intended audience.

Not Our Time – Penny Watson (2012)

First of all I looked at a project by Penny Watson entitled Not Our Time (2012). This project was obviously very personal to Penny and I felt the decisions she made in terms of aesthetics and composition allowed this to be reflected in the photographs. I found it very touching and one of the reasons for this was that the majority of the photos were environmental portraits, without losing the intimacy of Penny spending time with her grandmother. Other aesthetic decisions made included minimal post-processing, advising her grandmother not to smile or look at the camera and not employing flash at all. All of this and the fact she shot nearly 400 images for the project enabled her to portray her grandmother in a very convincing manner. One of the questions she posed in her book was: ‘I am intrigued to see whether photographing a family member rather than a stranger affects the images taken and whether any emotional connections are evident.’ – (Watson, 2012). The answer to this was I felt yes, although not directly. For instance there was no eye contact between the grandmother and the camera/Penny (one of Penny’s aesthetic choices). Instead there was a great deal of intimacy in the compositions of the environmental portraits which for me showed how Penny cared for her grandmother. Here Penny allowed the camera to do the talking in a subtle way rather than any direct intervention.

Behind the Scenes – Beth Aston

Beth Aston has sensitively documented her own illness and recovery. I felt the black and white medium worked well, turning the self-portarits into more abstract form and helping to disorient the viewer’s gaze in combination with the unusual camera angles. I thought the images I saw were highly effective in their communication with the viewer of the photographer/subject’s illness, with the considered lighting adding to this vision.

A Dozen Eggs – Harry Pearce (2012)

Another highly personal project involving his siblings, Harry Pearce documented members of his family. I felt this was clever because sometimes photographers overlook photographing something like siblings. I would say it was a project that finds extraordinary in the ordinary and interesting things from the banal. The photographs were again environmental portraits and again (like Penny Watson’s work) it was quite intimate, perhaps reflecting the photographer’s natural kinship with his siblings. By including extracts from the siblings, about random facts that were on their mind, the project was given more context.

Feet – Omar Camilleri (2010)

Who would think (or dare!) to do a project on something as seemingly trivial as feet!? Omar Camilleri managed to capture many different feet in a variety of ways, often in scenarios I wouldn’t have thought of. Some were humorous but many showed the toil of life and the burden that feet take on throughout this toil. I was impressed by the quality of the black and white images. In my opinion the choice of black and white was a good one; it showed off the stark nature of how feet were used as well as isolating them more from their respective backgrounds. Lastly the exhibition itself must have been amazing with massive pavaljuns displayed across streets.

The Dad Project – Briony Campbell

I found this project to be quite harrowing to look at compared to the others so far. It was most similar to me to Penny Watson’s Not Our Time (2012) except it documented moments leading up to and including the death of her father. For me the photography for Briony Campbell was a comfort for her during those times; there were also some happier pictures among the sad ones. I liked the fact not all the pictures were of her dad but some more abstract or of herself. I was glad she used small font for the captions under each photograph because I sort of would have liked if there were no captions at all. I thought the pictures could speak for themselves; however the captions did add context sometimes.

Living on 100th Street – Tanya Ahmed (2010-2011)

I liked the black and white treatment of Living on 100th Street anyway but when I realised that Bruce Davidson used the same treatment for his East 100th Street photos 40+ years prior, I felt this was a nice touch. The images were very good technically and quite a different approach to the other photographers I’ve looked at so far. The majority of the photographs for Living on 100th Street were environmental portraits (like some of the other projects I’ve looked at) but they were much more formal, without seeming staged. I would suggest Tanya Ahmed achieved this by what she called ‘collaborating’ with her subjects. This is something I could learn from, talking with the subjects first as when I tend to photograph people it tends to be quite rushed.

 

My thoughts after looking at the work of other OCA students whose work has reached or is about to reach their intended audience was that I was very inspired. The presentation methods used by some of the students were very imaginative but most of all I was struck by the personalised messages their projects were giving out. This came from generally diligent reactions to their briefs and incisive methods of working which allowed them to engage with their subjects intimately. This has then been reflected on me as the viewer and I would imagine many other viewers of each project.

References:

Ahmed, T. (2010-2011). Tanya Ahmed: Living on 100th Street. [online] Vimeo. Available at: https://vimeo.com/43594038 [Accessed 12 May 2018].

Campbell, B. (n.d.). The Dad Project – Briony Campbell | Photography & Film. [online] Brionycampbell.com. Available at: http://www.brionycampbell.com/projects/the-dad-project/ [Accessed 12 May 2018].

Camilleri, O. (2010). Feet- Photographic Exhibition. [online] Omar Camilleri. Available at: https://omarcamilleri.com/2010/09/23/feet-photographic-exhibition/ [Accessed 12 May 2018].

Pearce, H. (2012). a dozen eggs: Harry Pearce. [online] Harrypearce.co.uk. Available at: http://harrypearce.co.uk/gallery_515190.html [Accessed 12 May 2018].

Watson, P. (2012). Not Our Time. [online] Marmalade-cafe.blogspot.co.uk. Available at: http://marmalade-cafe.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/not-our-time.html [Accessed 12 May 2018].

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