Demonstration of technical and visual skills
I made no use of titles this time – viewers are given much more freedom to interpret the images in their own way (compared to Assignment 2), while I’m still confident that underlying narrative was clear enough without textual support.
Evidence of selecting appropriate camera and lenses for the shooting is given, seeking to avoid use of flash despite working indoors in preference for maintaining a good working relationship with naturally lit subject. Recognising the need to work quickly and unobtrusively. Visual awareness shown in spotting expressions and details during the shoot that complimented each other to create an overall cohesiveness to the set.
Social empathy and discernment while shooting in an environment with a very significant emotional context. After the media interest around the story I was keen to understand the personal motivations, approach and differences to a ‘normal’ western death. I feel this comes through in the selected images as a heartfelt, authentic and loving celebration of life, not as a strange counterculture group on the fringes of Western society (as portrayed in some of the more sensationalist ‘Red top’ press). As discussed in the main assignment text, I considered the inclusion of some abstracts / close ups of ritual items – shrine statues of Indian gods, personal artefacts of the deceased – but felt this muddled the key meanings around grief/celebration when included in a larger set.
Quality of outcome
Seeking to tell an interesting story made – in my eyes – of two contrasting sides. Images sorted in a logical and coherent manner to underpin the narrative, revealing an apparent paradox in the grieving process – that of grieving itself and as a celebration of a life.
Evidence provided for the structured approach to image selection (using Adobe Lightroom’s ‘Slideshow’ feature. Various collections were created with different images, in different orders before settling on the final edit. In this way the images can be dragged and dropped around to instantly see the effect. This was one of several approaches suggested by my tutor in previous feedback).
I learned that it was interesting to note how small changes can have a big impact. For example, images 4 and 5 were originally the other way round. When viewing in sequence this created the impression of them looking ‘away’ from each other rather than ‘towards’. Swapping them around deepened the sense of community between the individuals even though they are not on the same photograph. As stand-alone images, not in a set, this would of course be irrelevant.
Demonstration of creativity
At one level this is just event photography, in a similar way to how many other weddings, celebrations and other events are recorded every day. But I felt like I was taking a risk here due to the high sensitivity of the occasion and emotions involved, high level of public/media interest in the story and potential to embarrass my partner had anything gone wrong and – perhaps most significantly – the inability to reshoot any of the images should there be a problem. This was a ‘one shot’ assignment.
Equally, I was confident that my interpretation of the event met all the assignment criteria for ‘Window’ so I abandoned earlier ideas in preference for this one. I had to work hard to understand the approach these people were taking towards the death of a loved one and reflect this with sincerity. With regards to the development of a personal voice, I’ve sought to express the two conflicting emotions in the room as I saw them, rather than this being any suggested ‘theme’ for the photographs by anyone else. I’ve told my story of their story which has been all over the news. I leave it for others to judge whether the two viewpoints are consistent.
I’ve sought to demonstrate in this assignment how I have taken on board previous feedback and adapted my approach, especially around the use of my blog, confidence around people and taking a risk. For example the breaking up of blog posts into separate posts to show the evolution of ideas over time (including the abandonment of ideas which I may one day return to).
I’m also being more succinct in my blog to make it easier for the tutor/assessor to read. I now use a paper journal for ideas ‘on the fly’ then add this to my blog later. Im finding that this allows me to ‘think around things’ more before committing them to the blog.
I have also tried to show more of the evolution of my editing process rather than simply presenting the final cut for the assignment. My rationale for my choices has been made clear – including where reflective thinking caused me to change my mind (e.g the use of abstract close ups).