Backyard Blossfeldt

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Assignment 5 revisions

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I attend the Thames Valley sub-group of the OCA and homework provided by Sharon Boothroyd for the April meeting was various readings on semiotics. In March I had been asked to take photos of the staff in Virgin Atlantic’s procurement … Continue reading

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Assignment 5: tutor feedback

 Open College of the Arts
Tutor report


Student name Brian Lavery Student number 501309
Course/Module Digital Photographic Practice Assignment number 5


Overall Comments

Thank you for your final assignment. It has been a pleasure to advise you on all of your assignments for the Digital Photographic Practice course and would like to wish you luck with your future photographic pursuits.

Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

This has been a fascinating project to read about and to see the photographs produced, you have definitely displayed a lot of creativity here. I am sure it was equally as interesting to be a subject taking part in this photographic experiment.

I think that you have explored representation in a very interesting way and think that it would be interesting to pursue further, indeed to the representation of the images themselves. For example if these images were exhibited or published I would really like to be able to see all three of the images, maybe displayed as a triptych and then the chosen image for all of the people, so that you could see all of the information available and collate the work in a more structured manner.

You have displayed good technical skills, in particular with the editing of the “vogue” images and the lighting of the portraits that is in a typically corporate style.

There are variations on the background colour on a lot of the shots due to the lighting changing slightly. If the red is particularly important to the corporate feel of the images I think I would be tempted to try to colour match them up a little more and maybe even out the lighting on the background a little more to alleviate the highlights.

The compositions are effective, I like that the subjects are not sat straight on looking at the camera, their shoulders and heads at angles which creates a natural feel to the portraits as well as making them appear more dynamic.

A really interesting assignment that has been most enjoyable to be able to see, I really hope that you will consider ways of presenting these images whereby the viewer can see all of the images as well as the ones chosen.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

The learning log is looking great. It is very neatly presented and includes all of the information and images you have collected throughout the course.

Tutor name: XXXXXX XXXXX
Date 10.5.13
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The Eggleston conundrum

William Eggleston, giant of photography, trail blazer, award winner, etc etc. I enjoy his work because it shows things that I haven’t seen previously. They may be banal but I’ve never been to Tennessee and  his photos show various little snippets of the less photographic scenes. When he became famous no-one else was taking colour photos that ended up in galleries, and he deserves some praise for taking his own path. Here’s a short interview with him at a recent awards ceremony:


Since early on in your career you’ve been invited and commissioned to photograph various events and places, do you approach these projects differently to the rest of your work? Or is all the same?
I would simply say it is most likely all the same, or that is my intent.
Having traveled quite extensively, do you research your locations before visiting or take the place as it comes when you arrive?
Definitely the latter.
How often might you work on any one project?
On any project, I set no time limits or any limits on the number images, whether it’s 10 or 10,000.

How often do you return to places you’ve visited before?
I never know because I don’t much plan ahead. So I could be back many times at certain places. It’s not a prerogative.
Tennessee seems to be a constant influence in your many portfolios over the years, can you elaborate on its appeal?
Since I mostly live there, it’s a familiar place, and part of the further deep South where I grew up.
Your work is often devoid of people but retains the presence of human existence. Would you consider yourself a documenter of life?
I put it this way: I’m often asked a similar question, and my usual reply is that I’m photographing life today. There are indeed many people in my photographs and since I do not consider myself a documentary photographer, there are those out there that think most of my work is not about people. They are wrong.

What was it about colour photography that you wanted to explore rather than black and White film?
Because the world is not in black and white, as anyone knows. The only time it is when it’s depicted in black and white photographs.
Have you moved into digital photography or do you still use your 35mm Leica?
I prefer still using film. I mostly do use Leica equipment. I’m very slowly approaching digital, but I’m quite happy using film.


A man of few words, and even fewer insights. He uses colour because the world is not black and white. He takes photos of Tennessee because he lives there. I wonder if the interviewer really expected anything more from him? I’ve seen the same type of interviews live with Martin Parr, Steve McCurry, and Juergen Teller, and they’re much the same, a bit pedestrian, a bit ordinary, although McCurry and Teller seemed to believe all the hype about their work where Parr is brutally honesty. And so is Eggleston. He doesn’t seem to have any process, any aims, any obvious creativity that might be worth studying. Parr at least did a photographic degree, while Teller spent a few months on photo courses in Germany. So why bother with any of them? Seems to be because they’re commercially successful even if they can’t explain it. Is this how to get ahead in photography, just go and take a few snaps, and if you do pick up any photographic theory for God’s sake ditch it immediately.

On the other hand we have the learned curatorial view John Szarkowsi which I think actually says what I said above, but in academic terms- Introduction to Eggleston’s Guide

Teller told us about his “interview” with Eggleston where the great man sat and didn’t say anything for an hour, then invited himself on a tour of Europe at Teller’s expense. So they went on the road for a few weeks and didn’t take a single picture or even speak very much.

This really is not good enough. Eggleston’s done, and whatever he had to say was said in a few words forty years ago, and he hasn’t got anything else to say, so stop flying him in and giving him awards. There are real photographers out there much more deserving and in need of recognition. Awards committees are lazy self-promoters, where the latest fad is to have people who don’t take photos win photographic competitions. In the name of art.

Compare and contrast with someone like Sebastiao Salgado. Now there’s a photographer. Or William Klein (but not Moriyama, please, leave the perverts in their gutters with their children’s panties and up-skirt shots and don’t bring them to the Tate Modern for our admiration of their money making skills).

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Assignment 5: The Office

This gallery contains 20 photos.

I attend the Thames Valley sub-group of the OCA and homework provided by Sharon Boothroyd for the April meeting was various readings on semiotics. In March I had been asked to take photos of the staff in an international airline’s procurement … Continue reading

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Assignment 4: Real or fake?

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Assignment four asks us to produce an image to illustrate the cover of a book or magazine. I decide to combine the assignment with a photobook project that I’ve been working on that explores South Africa’s west coast from the … Continue reading

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Exercise: Alteration

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This is the original photo. I wanted a more balanced image so I moved the gannet in flight over to the right, and cropped the image to a square format. This is problematic in that the contents of the photo … Continue reading

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Exercise: Addition

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I think there may be a project in here, mixing different country land and skies. Trust goes out the window completely here, as opposed to Paul Graham’s shots of the clouds over Belfast. Again it’s the intent or purpose of … Continue reading

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Exercise: Enhancement

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Face lightening is only showing what may be seen in real life and as such is acceptable to me. Changing the iris hue, colour, saturation or anything else that makes it substantially different from real life  wouldn’t be acceptable in … Continue reading

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Exercise: Improvement or interpretation?

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I use this technique frequently, and especially where there is a wide range of skin tones, such as in this shot near Cape Town, where the waiter’s face is too dark and his uniform top is too white. The camera … Continue reading

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