Evaluation of My Experience of the Documentary Course

I felt I started a bit slowly with the course through to Assignment 1 as I was trying to grasp the concepts of Documentary. However, I would say I got on much better with the coursework leading up to Assignment 2, which was reflected in the quality and strong concepts evident in Assignment 2. The fact I started using images to illustrate my posts and ideas helped. I also tried to listen to the feedback provided by my tutor; with Assignment 1 for example I went back and made sure the photographs were consistent with each other to deliver a coherent project for the viewer. I presented Assignment 1 as a handmade book to fit the nature of the project and Assignment 2 in blog format as requested – found under the tab: ‘Assignment 2 – Ephemerality of the Image’. Subsequently I have decided Assignment 2 works also as large (A3) prints which I’ve included in my submission.

I continued to grow into Documentary with the coursework and Assignment for Part 3; often the coursework or independent research would inform or influence the relevant assignment. For Part 3 for example, the post: ‘Imaginary Documents’ on my blog informed my decision to concentrate less on aesthetics in a single-image narrative but more on telling a narrative within multiple images. Incidentally this can be found under the relevant ‘Coursework’ tab but also in the tab: ‘Work Leading up to Assignment 3’. This helped me to tell a narrative effectively and, with the guidance of my tutor, I omitted the captions so the photographs told the story themselves. I submitted Assignment 3 as a photo book, which unlike Assignment 1, was purposefully not handmade.

Aesthetics of an image was still on my mind while completing the coursework leading up to Assignment 4 because I chose to base my critical review around this. My tutor and some of my fellow students liked the personal element of this critical review. Here I reflected on my own work and a visit to an exhibition as well as of course looking at other artists in order to get a more reflexive idea of aesthetics and how they affect readability of an image to an audience.

Fellow student feedback and generally bouncing around ideas, especially in the study hangouts I attended and wrote-up (found under the tab: ‘Learning Log’ and then under: ‘Study Hangouts’, were very helpful for me. This was because they helped me feel part of a student community as well as encouraging me to produce work I was more satisfied with.

I produced the work I was most satisfied with for Assignment 5. The project took a lot of research and development and then patience while photographing. I thought the results were worth it because while I was taking a risk whether the project was strictly documentary photography, it still told a powerful and topical story within single-image narratives.

Again I listened to my tutor after receiving my feedback for Assignment 5 and changed the project from a diptych idea to a single-image narrative presentation with supporting documents, which somewhat altered the meaning of my relationship with the subjects of each single-image narrative. Therefore I’ve submitted the single-image narratives for Assignment 5 as large (A3 prints). Also on A3 there are the supporting documents but as there are several images on each piece of paper, they appear purposefully less significant than the single-image narratives.

Lastly, I had a productive Assignment 6 – pre-assessment review with my tutor who helped me with strategies for presentation. I took this on board and presented my work to a standard I would say I am satisfied with for assessment. We also discussed going forwards after Documentary. I felt like I was drawn to the landscape genre especially with people in the scene, adding vitality. This can be seen in Assignment 5 especially but I also acknowledge the need to experiment once I’ve commenced a project and take more risks. Perhaps experimenting with subverting the genre of landscape is a way of taking a risk as mentioned in my Assignment 6 – Pre-assessment Review.

I have been reading an article recommended to me by my tutor in which in one paragraph Quentin Bajac is discussing experimentation in photography with Philip Gefter. He starts with an interesting statement: ‘The most interesting photographers in that field are those who manage to find a proper balance between perception and the idea.’ – (Bajac and Gefter, 2013). With Assignment 2 for example, I concentrated perhaps too much on conceptualising before I commenced the project. This meant I struggled once I realised: ‘What you produce in the end will probably be quite different from the initial idea.’ – (Bajac and Gefter, 2013). Bajac then goes on to explain that you have to accept that [the world changes that idea] and shift your expectation to accommodate what you observe and evolve with it.’ – (Bajac and Gefter, 2013). For me this idea of shifting your expectation is one of adaptability. Bajac is quite succinctly illustrating that by experimenting on an idea once you have it (even if it is a loose idea) is key to adapting to the inevitable change once you try to implement it in the world around you. I felt this was something I could learn from going forwards.

References:

Bajac, Q. and Gefter, P. (2013). View from a Judgement Seat. Aperture, (213), pp.56-60.

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