Final Thoughts on the Course
I have to admit that there were times before I had my study break and afterwards that I had lost all momentum, enthusiasm and competence for the course and for any progress my skills.
When I first started I was relatively uninhibited and felt that some of the challenges would not too difficult to conquer.
Due to the sudden loss of my father, who had nurtured my first interest in photography and art I was suddenly at a loss for understanding and competence. I had to call for a study break and when I returned I worked at a much slower pace to before. I found covering the ground for the rest of the course was a struggle to maintain my pace and not allow the emotional strain to inhibit my expression.
Without the support structure I also struggled to understand concepts and had to rely heavily on reading to provide support.
The first Assignment, being portraiture, at first appeared to be a simple assignment, however I found straight away that it was a challenge to my skills as I had no concept on how to advise a model on how to move and pose. I was very unhappy with my work the first time around.
I was much happier with the Second Assignment as by then I felt quite comfortable approaching complete strangers, striking up a conversation, discussing how I wanted to photograph them and then taking the final images. When I look back through the images I still feel the comfort and happiness of the day.
Assignment 3 for me was a challenge; with my limited mobility I found it difficult to scout out lots of locations and I could not always access areas that are open to non-disabled people. With the limited surroundings I did spend long periods of time watching how people moved through building spaces and how they used them. I was struck by the quick changes in spaces where one moment they were full and then empty. This helped shape my work for the Assignment.
Again in Assignment 4 I was limited in choice of location and that frustrated me as I had to discard what I think were several good ideas as I just could not physically complete the work. I had to settle on what I now feel is a lesser subject and that due to the frustrations my heart was not quite in my work which meant that the final Assignment suffered a bit.
Without the help from outside sources I would not have been able to complete Assignment 5, having no support structure available and no group to fall back on I was lucky that I was able to call upon some of my wife’s friends who rallied round and assisted in the discussions which helped to shape my final work. I plan to revisit the text for this Assignment before final submission to clarify some of the cultural references as not everyone is au fait with the historical and cultural context.
Building supportive networks
For the most part I was a lone worker and had little or no links with other students. My only contact with other students was through the OCA forums and the Facebook pages. For the rest of the time I had to use my own initiative and bounce ideas around a lot forming argument and counter argument for my own work.
After 2 courses do I know what kind of photographer might I be becoming?
After TAOP I was upbeat and felt that my understanding of art and photography had taken a leap forward. However working through the Assignments I felt that it was coming apart for me. I am physically unable to run around scouting out buildings and locations and due to my limited circle of travel I could only work within that limiting scope. It was only when working on Assignment 5 that I felt more comfortable and that the course was coming together as it was at that point that I felt that I could use the Project to show that there was an inconsistency in the way that people perceive a location based on how it is being presented to them as living history. Here I was leaning into the space of social and cultural photography.
Areas for improvement
Obviously I need to improve and develop generally but there are some aspects that I think need particular attention.
My tutor on People and Place was generous with his suggestions for improvements and pointing me towards photographers that I should view and read.
My tutor give me several suggestions on my last three assignments, cropping images as well as suggesting other images that I could have used. What was positive was that it gave me more ideas for structuring my images and my concept of working to completed project and he also made me consider my editing skills.
Going forward I do need to develop my text and image editing skills. Writing and editing large pieces of text are difficult for me as I suffer badly from dyslexia and I have to rely on someone who has no concept of my working in art to help in making the text comprehensive and complete.