PHO704: Week 10: Photography and its Fine Art Market

Work in Progress Portfolio

In order for my progress to be reviewed in Week 10, I’ve attached below a draft of current work in progress. I am enjoying making new images, even if trial and error is a large part of it. I thought experimentation was coming under control yet as I curtail wider attempts like long exposure, I still have pursued other realms: framing (as a reaction against the conformity of unifying squares and in greying images and technique layering to calm things down as part of my anti-kitsch movement.

Technical layout (with InDesign)

Control has now been gained so instead of those quad layouts published over past weeks and to be honest, in the last module, those pixellated versions of full resolution files that got published (in despair), I’m now happy to more or less have full control over layout. Thank you to the Falmouth Software Teaching Team for advising back in early September.

Simplify, simplify is the mantra (I agree. Let the photographs do the talking). Even when avoiding bells and whistles there was still a key lesson to learn. Yes a tutor could see why I grouped images but still it is better to have one image per page – I’m working on it. Some images come alive on a larger scale.

Although expansion of PDF pages to larger size works well, I presented via Canvas where sadly the expansion does not have a control. I’ll write that off to experience.

Narrative Simplification

As a string of three developed or developing projects there has to be a history and how difficult that is to hold back. I do let the pictures talk nowadays and invariably I get asked to explain, which is good. If interest is expressed then respond is the idea. I usually give the following pitch:

“Bravery and sad events unspoken. Now 100 years on, as tears are wiped away, I remember them (I remember them all), through the glow that is life’s force.” Michael Turner

The challenge is in taking it a step further. I learn and relearn not to mention the 100 years, instead I should focus on the future to enable link-back in time (usually to world events). 

The second challenge is not to mention the mitochondrial DNA. Genetics is complex, highly complex and for some viewers/listeners it has been intimidating. Instead l should link to the viewer through common experience, which of course I get, but to enact this is much more of a challenge. At this point I fall back on the emotional baggage – I cannot directly reference the past as it affects me too deeply. However, I will say it has drawn a family together. Nowadays, abstraction is my “therapy”, my means of remaining connected without the baggage. 

There is strong authenticity at a personal level and yet I cannot ignore the degrading of the work if it were ever deemed to be kitsch.  I understand the work is not kitsch and yet I have reacted to the possibility. The main factor is the toning down I have wanted to see in my highly saturated colour images. Trying to be clever, and not always a good idea, I have met with some success in review in terms of combining monochrome images and colour images. Some of my colour work now only focusses on a specific point of interest (signposting) and the remainder of the image is toned down. I suppose a form of colour popping. This can also be seen as cliched. Getting balance right is a very tricky skill to master but one worth persevering with. Anyway, as I look at the bright images on screen so much, too much colour can make the eyes seek rest. 


I was asked by a fellow student to consider this and without reply I quietly took this away for improvement. I have grouped images that go together as already mentioned but I also reverse time order. Again I fell foul of the work outside of term time being discarded by the course rules. I returned to the earlier style and placed those images at the end or out of order in a sense. For me the narrative was always the researched written narrative, that I was illustrating. Now my work has taken on a life of its own it will have to stand on its own. If though, I take a recent inspiration, Ellen Carey, her work is presented as thematic groups and development phases. As abstract work, what is the narrative? 

Colour Grading and Colour matching and Print

I’ve gone back to print, hurrah. Now with a different technical platform and sadly with an attendant loss of control over colour profiles. This has forced the agenda over colour control in my images which I’ve wanted to refine for a while now. It has been great to read up on technique but I invented my own technique. The question is how far to go as there is no branding or product colour consistency required. 

Degree of Difficulty

Trying to photograph an elbow is tricky in close-up/macro/magnified. Try and photography one’s own elbow – I think you get the message. This is the photographic challenge and so I set-up a comparative trial: DSLR v flexible bridge camera v Smartphone with lens add-on. There is a convenient method, the latter and the other two methods give results in some circumstances. I mention this as the value of work is aided by overcoming such constraints.

Review images – web version 

“Photographic seeing meant an aptitude for discovering beauty in what everybody sees but neglects as too ordinary.”

Sontag, Susan. On Photography (Penguin Modern Classics) (p. 89). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

PHO704: Week 9: Who buys photography? Part 2

I enter this week mindful of the end of module assignments that need to be handed in: the draft oral presentation was reviewed and has taken onboard numerous amendments and I have been sleeping on it (for rather too long); the portfolio of abstract photographs of the new work I have been making is a growing body of work that I’ll need to edit and place within my portfolio; the CRJ which is this blog has extended week on week and as the work this module has been more business orientated I’ve gone back over some research for parts that need further building upon.

Meanwhile in going from Week 8 into Week 9 I have been quite pleased at the continuity that occurred as if by chance in that the Week 8 work estimate I made anticipated ahead many of the points emphasised by Amy Simmons Art Producer in the Week 9 video.

Meanwhile, on the subject of Treatment – the request Amy made at the end of her video, I’ve been active making sketches / illustrations / diagrams and decided to make a method of my planned photographs suiting the requirements of Landscape, Square and Portrait and constraints of upper left Copy and lower right Logo.

I haven’t committed my answer yet as clearly a simpler approach is better. Meanwhile I am driven to risk something more thoughtful and showing enterprising spirit that might differentiate my photography from others work. I probably need to corral some of my existing photographs and cannibalise them into the examples in my Treatment submission. I don’t think there is really enough time for this.

I have taken a bit of time to go back to my photographic interests outside of the course and will be hosting a light painting workshop later in the week.

It has been refreshing to listen to a talk by Ted Paterson and Morag Leeming who have lived and worked on dual signed work in an area of Scotland I have gone back to repeatedly over the past few years and which was the start of my current practice.

In complete contrast I listened to a colleague’s live practice presentation on Still Life, Allegory, Vanitas and Momento Mori. I’d had some prior exposure and had looked into still life lighting techniques. It was great to reinforce that growing knowledge and the inspiration of Caravaggio and Pieter Claesz.

Vanitas – Pieter Claesz

Apart from that, on a practical level a change of computing platform has led me to the need to re-calibrate for print. It can be quite a lengthy prospect setting up especially as the software hiccuped. I took advice from another colleague and will be tracking down profiles from the Epson international site in Australia. I really must get back to creating tangible results for my work.

Lastly, I’ve gone back to competition, which I let wither and with a bit more focus managed a third place equal in Advanced competition. I’d let this slip of late due to personal circumstances and in giving the MA Photography priority.

Another area I’ve let slip outside of the course and that I’ve yet to reconnect with are the various groups I shoot with in and around London missing three events in the space of a fortnight. In a sense it is better I learn from the course to concentrate on shooting according to a defined practice with preset objectives and I can go back to the social side of shooting as and when there is time.

PHO704: Week 8: Who buys photography? Part 1

Jumping ahead a little to Week 8 – I still have the previous week to blog – I was busy taking onboard review comments for the draft Oral presentation when two guest lectures popped up out of the blue. Well at least I’d not spotted either in the schedule until one was almost ended and the other had finished earlier that day. I put them on the back burner until the recordings became available. I was also engrossed in research on the contextual side. Susan Sontag in On Camera discussing art in terms of painting versus photography.

Week 8 Tell a Story

Commission: Promotion of local woodland walk.

Post the summer holiday period, promote getting out into the Autumn countryside. 

Setting off
Inner World
Homeward Bound

This is the sequence with the end collage update following comment by another student regarding the intent behind the final collage. I’d allowed an opening of dog with walker so needed to end on the them of returning home. I did this by including the spotty dogs in the final collage.

The alternative I considered was to drop the idea of dog walking and go for a much more subtle narrative of into the woods – within the woods – exiting the woods. Here is the original end collage:

Into the Open

In the end I considered the popularity that dog photographs are met with on the internet and parked the more subtle approach I’d had as often the viewer might not pickup on the subtleties.