Assignment 3 – Presentation

In contrast to the organic and rustic feel to the handmade book I produced for Assignment 1, I decided to employ a different production method for the book for Assignment 3. Although they were both books, they couldn’t in my opinion have been much more different and this was in order to purposefully reflect their respective assignments. The book for Assignment 3 was designed by myself but produced by an online book company so the finish to the book was quite a bit more professional and, incidentally, colder. This professional, cold feel to the book was because there were basically no ‘mistakes’ or quirks to the production of the book; it being made probably by computer mostly. However, I was after this kind of feel to the book because it reflected from my perspective the process of gentrification in Deptford and also many of the photographs I’d taken depicting the gentrification process.

Front Cover of Gentrification in Deptford
Front Cover of Gentrification in Deptford

I also designed and formatted the book to look professional, paying special attention to borders, text size and placement and colour choices throughout the book. Because the book is a revised edition of the PDF draft I produced initially for Assignment 3, I tried to listen to my tutor’s comments regarding presentation. Drawing upon his comments for both the PDF draft I’d produced for Assignment 3 as well as my original version of Assignment 5 – Tourism in London, and Me. By drawing upon both these sets of comments I feel I was better able to design a professional looking book. Aspects of the books design included a white, uniform colour scheme across the book (excluding photographs and text), all photographs appearing centrally in the page on a separate page and borders appearing uniform and spacious throughout the book.

Back Cover of Gentrification in Deptford
Back Cover of Gentrification in Deptford

My reasoning for making the final presentation for Assignment 3 purposefully professional/cold was that I found through my Researching Gentrification in Deptford post gentrification can often be a process of vast change both positive and negative. People are often displaced or at the least the community changes drastically but lots more housing and a new scene develops. By keeping the look of the book neutral, I was accepting both sides to this argument and instead of taking a side to the argument, I was documenting the narrative of gentrification in Deptford.

Introduction for Gentrification in Deptford
Introduction for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 2 and 3 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 2 and 3 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 4 and 5 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 4 and 5 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 6 and 7 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 6 and 7 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 8 and 9 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 8 and 9 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 10 and 11 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 10 and 11 for Gentrification in Deptford
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Assignment 3 – Gentrification in Deptford – Revised

Following on from the comments from my tutor for Assignment 3, I have created a photo book in which I have paid special attention to formatting and text layouts. I feel I have learnt from the comments my tutor made regarding the formatting of the original (photo book) version of Assignment 5 where the photos felt too cramped on the pages.

Additionally I have removed any captioning of the photographs in the book so that the viewer can let themselves find the narrative occurring within the photographs. I also added a section to the book to show more images of the gentrification process in Deptford.

Lastly I removed one of the images from the project – the one I originally captioned ‘A Vibrant Scene’ as I agreed with my tutor it was a somewhat redundant image.

Having lived near Deptford for many years now, I have witnessed massive changes in the area. Some of this has been quite gradual while recently there has been a more drastic change in appearance. The changes have, continue to and will affect Deptford and its people in profound ways and I believe it is important to document some of this changing Deptford from the perspective of a local inhabitant. In this project I aim to show the development from my point of view and how I perceive a gentrification process occurring.

Below I have attached the PDF version of the cover of the book:

Assignment 3 – Gentrification in Deptford – Revised Cover

And below here I have attached the revised PDF version of Assignment 3 – Gentrification in Deptford:

Assignment 3 - Gentrification in Deptford - Revised
Assignment 3 – Gentrification in Deptford – Revised

How to Photograph an Abstract Concept

As I have been studying documentary I have become increasingly aware of the need for a clear brief. This enables more incisive photography in my experience. The reverse I’ve found can also be true – in my recent Assignment 3 – Gentrification in Deptford I was struggling for a clear brief and started using post-conceptualisation as a strategy so that I could just start taking pictures and see what developed from there. However, for my upcoming Assignment 5 – A Personal Project, one of the requirements for the assignment is ‘a methodical approach’. Therefore I could either use post-conceptualisation as a method or do the opposite and produce a clear brief but not somewhere in between.

One area I’ve realised could be improved in my work would be the inclusion of an abstract concept rather than literal concepts in producing a clear brief. With the exception of Assignment 2 – Ephemerality of the Image where I developed the idea of an abstract concept, I have not explored abstract concepts. One essay that really inspired me with regards to abstract concepts particularly for Assignment 2 was Maartje van den Heuvel’s Mirror of Visual Culture. Here I eventually discovered a way of photographing an abstract concept – ephemerality of the image but the process of developing the ideas was quite drawn out.

I decided on a whim to make a search on the internet: “How to photograph an abstract concept” without much hope for inspiring results but was pleasantly surprised a few search results down to find something other than a list of ’20 ways to instantly improve my abstract photography’, which was what the rest of the results seemed to consist of! The search result in question linked to an essay by John Suler called Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche relating to conceptual photography. I found Suler’s essay to be accessible and practical and here were some of the observations I came away with after reading the essay:

I had been thinking about photography in the ‘wrong’ order in my mind at least; writing loose briefs and hoping for something creative to come out of my observations on research conducted. Instead I learned it was preferable to think of a concept in conceptual photography first and think about how this might best be represented as a photograph or set of photographs afterwards. In particular, ‘Photographs also offer a seemingly more real, tangible depiction of concepts that otherwise seem abstract or elusive.’ – (Suler, 2013). Many of my previous projects had been literal concepts so learning that one of photography’s strengths lay in depicting abstract concepts was interesting for me.

One part of Suler’s essay that I had an opinion on was: ‘[conceptual artists] are free to use an idea as the guide in creating a work, rather than being restrained by aesthetic standards about how things are supposed to done. – (Suler, 2013). Although I agreed with this statement on the most part (as opposed to creating just aesthetically-pleasing photographs like in non-conceptual photography), I felt there was an additional side to conceptual photography often being minimalistic and perfunctory in style. As the idea behind the photograph or set of photographs becomes more complex (the conceptual art I’ve come across often is quite complicated in concept), the execution of the photograph almost needs to be simple. This is in order to get across the message as lucidly as possible for a complicated idea. Suler (2013) touches upon this when he remarks ‘The process might be very challenging and creative, especially when dealing with complex or elusive concepts.’ when talking about creating artistic photographs for conceptual art. My response would be the perfunctory approach for the resultant photographs is kind of like a style for complicated concepts, not only to get across the message of the art but also also a deliberate attempt by the artist to signify the art is more important than the photograph.

A photograph’s concept can be translated into an image either specifically or ambiguously. When it is translated ambiguously, viewers tend to project their own meaning or understanding of the concept onto the photo which is what some photographers want according to Suler (2013): ‘The photo presents the container of a general concept or idea, but then people fill that container with their own personal meanings.’ When creating abstract concepts in photographs I would prefer for the viewer to infer meaning but for it to be not too ambiguous so somewhere in the middle. Suler (2013) is of the opinion that for the more specific of these approaches a clear understanding of the concept is desirable before visual communication commences.

As I was more interested in creating images for abstract concepts, it was useful to note from Suler’s essay that he recommended the use of a dictionary, thesaurus and online image search engine to aid the sender of the concept (the photographer) in acquiring a better understanding of the ins and outs of their abstract concept. He also states that ‘Symbols, metaphors, and similes are very useful when designing conceptual photographs.’ – (Suler, 2013) whereby the receiver of the concept (the viewer) could associate signs a photograph may possess in order to gain the sender’s meaning. Therefore if I wanted to create a photograph symbolising entropy of meaning in social media imagery, I could look up the definitions and synonyms for entropy and social media. Then I could see how other people represent entropy or social media in their photographs/images and also think about symbols, metaphors and similes that would be appropriate once I had a more lucid idea of what the concepts entailed.

Lastly, Suler touched upon post-conceptualisation (which I used for Assignment 3 – Gentrification in Deptford) although he used the term ‘reverse engineering’ of the conceptual photograph. Here he basically describes the process I went through with Assignment 3 where I took photographs first and then ‘apply an idea to it’ – (Suler, 2013). While both approaches can be effective I felt the more appropriate strategy of conceptualisation of an idea beforehand would perhaps be better for Assignment 5 where ‘a methodical approach’ was desirable.

References:

Suler, J. (2013). Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche. [online] Truecenterpublishing.com. Available at: http://truecenterpublishing.com/photopsy/conceptual.htm [Accessed 23 Oct. 2017].

Van Den Heuvel (2005). Mirror of Visual Culture. Documentary Now! [online] Available at: https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/key-resources/res-files/heuvel_discussingdocumentary.pdf [Accessed 23 Oct. 2017].

Tutor Report for Assignment 3 – Documentary

Here I have attached my tutor report for Assignment 3 – Documentary. This is so the viewers of the journey I’ve taken through my course are able to see how I improved on the comments I received for Assignment 3 (and coursework) from my tutor in terms of presentation and content.

Tutor Report for Assignment 3 – Documentary

Changes I’ve since made to Assignment 3 include:

Assignment 3 – Gentrification in Deptford – Revised

Assignment 3 – Presentation

Self-reflection for Assignment 3 Documentary

I was asked for Assignment 3 to produce 10 images of varying viewpoints and compositions while still maintaining a consistent visual style. I feel I managed to maintain a consistent visual style of landscape documentary while employing different focal lengths and compositions. I tried to keep an open mind as to the intent of each photograph while taking them; instead editing the photos accordingly to tell my story later. At the same time, I remained aware while walking around Deptford for any mini-stories to play out which might help with conveying the general theme. However, I was more concerned with photographing and looking for signs of gentrification in the area, whether obvious or not than these ‘mini-stories’. Focusing on post-conceptualisation differed from what I have tended towards in the past, which made the shooting and editing process more liberating. I did find I had to put more thought into how to edit and sequence the photographs afterwards. This was because of the increased number of photos to edit down from compared to previous assignments and also because I had then to decide which photographs best fit the story and where.

I found the project came together to tell a convincing story of gentrification ongoing in the Deptford area. The requested PDF book form allowed me to lay out the photographs and select the order of the selected images until I was relatively happy with the layout. The content reflected my observations of Deptford although it was somewhat fictional for the reason that Deptford appeared a lot less bleak in half the photos. This was intentional however, as the story juxtaposed gentrified areas with the high street. The introduction to the PDF book contained clear and concise information regarding the project which in my opinion worked as an anchor to the book.

Creativity was one aspect I was worried about before the project started but by using post-conceptualisation I eventually started taking photographs. Then I could observe elements of Deptford where my creativity could be applied. I identified the billboards by roads as a possible source of interest. Using Inception (2010) and my own Assignment 2 Documentary as inspiration, I managed to create an image which I felt reflected gentrification in Deptford from a subjective point of view. Inception (2010) inspired me with the concept of ‘a dream within a dream’ or even ‘a dream within a dream within a dream’! I experimented with creating ‘a dream within a dream’ which could possibly reflect parts of society nowadays, though mostly unsuccessfully. Eventually I was inspired by ‘The Photograph Manipulated’ chapter in Graham Clarke’s: The Photograph (1997) to use image manipulation as well as picture-in picture techniques to produce Image 10 for Assignment 3.

In my opinion my learning log could improve by quantity of reading around documentary but in terms of the assignment I thought critically about my assignment with my Study Hangout group and in the post Imaginary Documents and I researched gentrification in Deptford.

References:

Clarke, G. (1997). The Photograph. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.187-205.

Inception. (2010). [DVD] Directed by C. Nolan. UK, USA: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Editing and Selection Process

Because I used post-conceptualisation to form the basis for my project, I shot a lot more photographs then I usually would for an assignment. The essence of post-conceptualisation would be to photograph freely while keeping an eye out for any themes that may arise. Hopefully a theme stronger than other themes would arise from which basing your project is possible. Then afterwards you put together some of the photographs taken during this process in order to inform the viewer to the theme and this would be where editing and selection takes place.

Shooting more freely and then conceptualising afterwards was liberating but it meant I took longer editing down the photographs. My workflow was to import all of the photos taken, quickly process the images I felt applied to my decided theme of gentrification more readily and then put these in a group so that I had a loose first edit of all the photos taken. Then I would look more closely at these photos for an idea of how they might come together to tell the story of gentrification in Deptford. To accomplish this I set up a digital book dummy, edited out extraneous photos and rearranged selected photos until I had a rough draft of a book. I already had some idea of which photos I wanted where from the import and quick process stage but this was the moment to refine this selection.

Afterwards I performed a more extensive processing on the photos selected and made sure they were in the order I deemed best (I rearranged them more than once at this stage). Then I worked on the title page and accompanying text for the project which served to consolidate the story told. Lastly I added brief captions to the photos anchoring the photos in the storyline.

I have included all quickly processed images taken of Deptford during the time photographing the area in a gallery on this post so it would be possible to look at my editing and selection process and observe which photographs made the edit.

Assignment 3 Documentary – Gentrification in Deptford – Original

Through visual storytelling I have created a set of 10 photographs which aim to show gentrification in Deptford. Using various viewpoints in a landscape style I have depicted a changing Deptford from my perspective. The story progresses from a seemingly vibrant Deptford high street market continuum to portray a poorer side representing the residencies and surrounding neighbourhood.

Continuing with the development side (and opposition) to gentrification, the changes can be observed taking place, culminating with a vision of gentrified Deptford. Although sleek and contemporary, the scene is sparse for now. A resolution to this is presented in recreational use of land.

Click on the link below to see my project Gentrification in Deptford in PDF book form:

Gentrification in Deptford