PHO704 Week 11: Art and Commerce

We’ve entered a busy time with several work items in progress.


A portfolio of images has been submitted. The challenge this time has been to create a consistent look to the set. The portfolio has dropped close-up photographs this time and only abstract images are present. This gives greater consistency as does adopting a square format throughout.  

Abstract presents a challenge in maintaining narrative. The way I’ve gone about tackling this is to display on a single line. This way control is maintained of viewing sequence where a grouping would allow a potentially clash.

What I decided was to place images inline in groups of three with a blank tile punctuating the sequence. This gives scope to introduce a rhythm as in a poem or song.

The next decision was to use captions and I decided on a call and response method which with some repetition adds to the narrative. When assembling my work I decided also to read the captions and record as an audio track added to a screen version of the images. This proved quite powerful and attracted someones attention.  attention of  is something I’d like to explore as an installation.

As the abstracts are predominantly red, when printed I was able to tune the room lighting and in doing so noted a dynamic was introduced, a perceived movement within the images. This is something I’d take further with an installation and I’ve not discovered the impact without doing my own printing (calibration required control of the lighting).

Oral Presentation

Over the summer an unplanned change of platform took place and so a new set of tools were adopted for this production task. Regardless of the software being much easier to use, it is still distracting learning new controls whilst constructing a new workflow. Nevertheless is was a surprisingly enjoyable experience and apart from a few stumbles over my words during recording the process went relatively smoothly. 

A benefit of the MA Photography course in having these assignments is that time is available to consider and review the content and this enhances motivation. As usual it is difficult to get it spot on throughout this process. I detect other students have similar experiences. As the deadline approaches, it is towards the end that I find I force the issue and make a late breakthrough.

My thinking had been challenged throughout as I needed to simplify. There were several strands running together that ranged in degree of difficulty to resolve and present. It is necessary to communicate at the level an audience will engage with. The breakthrough emerged and yet I was rather nervous of falling into a trap – sometimes authors wax lyrical about their work in ways that just don’t match up to the reality.

So with trepidation, I began to unwrap the whole thing and got it down to a base level I’d hope others could engage with. The motivation for my work is expressed more clearly as a transformation of childhood experiences of family culture into a more rounded adult view. When those around me engaged me in conversation as a child, I understood as a child. As an adult I can recognise the gaps and begin to use existing knowledge to expand out into the gaps. As an adult, I can also begin to create visual references that help complete my understanding of their experiences including loss unspoken.

In the process I took onboard the comments received in review. I’d like the work to be perfect but realise I’m learning and hopefully improving the strength of the portfolio work in each module. 

One thing I’m happily surprised about is the consistency of the subject. I could so easily have wavered onto some other branch of work. However, I still feel it is my destiny somehow to complete the work and so that has eased the decision making. Support from a wider family has been immense as they connect emotionally with the work and love to see the images I made and now make. In this respect the work is gaining traction with requests starting to come in from them for selected copies of the work. Although I cannot charge them for the work, I asked one to give to charity a small amount for each print they make.

Printing – is so important

Printing loomed large as a big thing. I was printing successfully before the summer but it all fell away with that change of platform. Software compatibility issues and default installations had held me back even after attempting to calibrate end to end. I took out the weekend before last to investigate what was behind such dark colour prints and I resolved it on my own. It was a manufacturer caused problem but with dogged determination it was solved. Now the abstract pictures that glow on screen print in entirely the same way on paper! I’m really pleased with the results and totlly enjoy getting back to tangible manifestations of my work.

Tutor advice to a student was taken onboard. I can now handle, order and re-order the prints, write on the backs, and basically enjoy them. I feel that print and more to the point, control over the print workflow will become increasingly important as the MA Photography course progresses. I kind of knew that but it is exciting to get back on the printing track. Watch this space.

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