Tutor Report - Assignment 5

Tutor report

Overall Comments

Many thanks for sending me your assignment. You have done well in researching briefs and set out well what you want to achieve in your self imposed brief for your magazine article.

Your images show decline and neglect of some of the past industry and you include examples of the chocolate box imagery normally associated with some aspects of Scotland. Where I think you could go further is in the conceptualisation of your project - how the images you submit work to communicate what you wantand what you mention in your brief.

You rely on a straightforward showing of the two contrasting aspects - images of neglected, rotting objects contrasted with typical touristic imagery: the kilt, the piper and the tourist shops. That’s fine as far as it goes but it’s a bit blunt and limited. If you look at Chris Killip’s work In Flagrante, there is a greater depth in his
imagery; there are more indicators and nuances in them that prompt a wider variety of questions and reactions in the viewer’s mind.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Technically your images are fine, they are well exposed, composed and sharp. You have done well to choose a location that allows you to revisit and choose the atmosphere and lighting conditions that you want. I like your choice of the grey and overcast lighting at the museum as this adds to the air of melancholy and
despair generated by these images which is what you want. Particularly good is you image of the decaying coal wagon.

You need to give some more careful thought to the how your images work together in the article.
For example, with your image for the front cover, while I think you have caught the moment well - showing the tour guide addressing the group, I’m not convinced the format is the best for a front cover. It’s Landscape orientation runs counter to the usual portrait layout and it makes what is a key image
small with a lower impact than say the image of the piper on page 2. An alternative would have been to go in closer to the subjects concentrating on the group of people around the tour guide and use a portrait
crop that would allow the title copy to appear on the building above and have less space for the article on the front page -moving it over to subsequent pages.

The images of the abandoned lighthouse are powerful. But I’m not convinced you need to use both as they are.The first - abandoned lighthouse as on page 4 conveys both abandonment well and the vandalism as depicted in image 4 on page 5. Another option would have been to try and get an image conveying its close
proximity to the shopping centre and tourist attractions. You wouldn’t need to show so much of the lighthouse as this would have ben established by image 3 just a recognisable part of it in relation to the shopping centre etc. In this way your image could tell that part of the story without having to rely on words. It would also visually demonstrate your point about the abandoned artifacts rubbing shoulders with everyday life.

Quality of outcome

Your images do well to record the state of the buildings and objects as they decay. In this way at least their existence is established before they vanish and all traces of the industry with them. You need to give some thought to the captions for the images. At present they are straight forward and factual but give no information about beyond what is already apparent visually. For example - Beam engine - this could be expanded to include an indication of the initial plans to restore it to a working engine that have now been abandoned.

The aspect of your brief - “The images must present the truth that industrial heritage is not being preserved as it is viewed as dirty and beneath the cause of preservation.” could do with being strengthened and this is where you would need to  give more thought to the conceptualisation of this aspect of your brief - how to represent this visually.
Would it have been possible to achieve an image that shows the abandoned coal truck or the beam engine in relation to the parts of the museum that is used by the public? The images as they are are fine but they are limited to showing the objects. They aren’t showing the deeper, more complex and involved concept of these
objects being willfully abandoned while being alongside a working museum. Is there a reason behind your choice for images 8 and 9 to be smaller than the others? It does seem strange as they show big pieces of equipment. Having different sized photographs in an article is fine and this is done to add variety. If you want to do this I suggest that you use image 6 as the smaller one to compliment image 7. It is after all a detail of image 7 just taken from a different position. Also perhaps crop it to a portrait orientation to concentrate on the chair.


Your images as already indicated are fine. They represent a straight forward depiction of the  brief. They are quite literal - perhaps a little too much so and you will need to work on introducing more subtlety in communicating your ideas and thoughts visually.
You have done well in involving others in looking at your work and can be gratified by their reaction - as you have seen your images have elicited the looked for response from viewers. As you point out you have strong feelings about issues and what you need to work on is the conceptualisation of putting these feelings across
visually. Look at how other photographers have done this. I have mentioned Chris Killip. Also have a look at Donovan Wylie’s work on the Maze prison. Not onyl does he use the grey overcast lighting to help convey a mood. But look at how he actually uses a mechanistic approach to his imagery to re-iterate design of the prison.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

This is fine as far as it goes but you need to include much more about other photographers’ work that you ahve looked at and how these have influenced you.

Suggested reading/viewing

I’ve already mentioned Killip and Wylie. Another Photographer to consider is Simon Norfolk’s depiction of Afghanistan and how he uses clarity, detail and evidence of war rather than straightforward war imagery to suggest how it changes a city and the collective memory/impression of it.

Pointers for the next assignment
Not relevant.

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