I was very pleased with my tutor’s feedback for my first assignment. I had carried out a lot of research and preparation for part one, and it definitely paid off! Not only did my tutor provide me with detailed assignment feedback, but he also commented individually on each exercise that I had completed prior to assignment one, and I found this to be really useful information.
Below you will find a few pointers that my tutor felt I needed to work on overall.
One of the main points which I noted in his feedback was that I need to work on my framing. “Do take the time also to carefully frame the images and be aware of objects which may interfere in the shot.” (Related to below image) I took this on board and did some research into Henri Cartier-Bresson, who is renowned for his street photography which is extremely well composed and framed. I studied and took notes from his techniques and implemented these when shooting for Assignment Two. My tutor also provided some recommended reading; which included David Prakel’s Basic Photography books. I have since read both books, and have learnt a great deal from these. You will find referenced quotes from these books have been implemented in my recent research work.
My tutor also noted that my focus in a few of the exercise images wasn’t as concentrated on the subject’s eyes as it could be. I am now aware of what the problems were. I have only just begun to use my zoom lens. Prior to these exercises I had never really used it, and so therefore have had a few problems with focus which I would not normally have with my standard lens. I noted that with a zoom lens the aperture resulted in a much shallower depth of field in comparison to a standard lens. This is something I will most certainly take on board in future.
My tutor noticed another issue with my focus in my indoor shoots; “The images taken with the child in a hat are both sharp and in focus. The other images are a little soft, you need to really work on this element to get the best out of your portraits.” (see images below) I also noted that for my indoor portrait shots, I possibly should adjust my aperture slightly in order to create a slightly larger depth of field. I was using a mere f1.8 for the baby shoot in order to let in as much light as possible; however, this resulted in an extremely narrow depth of field, making focussing on the eyes very difficult. I intend to learn from both these silly mistakes in future, and know that they are not mistakes that I will continue to make now that I know where I was going wrong.
Below you will find some of the more positive elements, specifically of my assignment, that my tutor commented on.
“The body of work presented for this is pleasing. You have made a real connection with the sitter and there is a variety of poses and lighting choices.” I felt that I made a real bond with my subject during this photo shoot; and I personally have learnt that this is an invaluable aspect of portrait photography.
“Image five and six are both more candid shots in a controlled environment so the lighting works well. These images with the model looking away from the camera are strong.” Both of these images were also my favourite shots from this assignment. I took time to consider framing, lighting, and focus when capturing these images; and feel that my techniques came together well. I also implemented some techniques learnt from Jane Bown, which further strengthened these shots.
Your research into a number of artists proved to be a very useful exploration and your work was influenced by some of the artists you looked at (especially Jane Bown). Continue to work in this way, looking at an artists body of work so you really get a feel about their style and approach.” I was very encouraged by this feedback, as I put a lot of work into my research. I found it to be of invaluable use; therefore I have carried out similar research in preparation for Assignment Two.
As a whole I found my tutor’s feedback to be extremely useful. He has given me some great tips on how to improve my work, and has also highlighted certain strengths in my style and technique.
For further reference, below you will find my tutor feedback in full.
You have approached the work logically and been prepared to practice a variety of techniques in your understanding of the brief requirements.
Your research into a number of artists proved to be a very useful exploration and your work was influenced by some of the artists you looked at (especially Jane Bown). Continue to work in this way, looking at an artists body of work so you really get a feel about their style and approach.
Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
You have recorded your explorations and have demonstrated good practice in discussing your findings and outcomes. It is good to continue this experimentation in your projects.
- Portrait- Varying the pose
You have produced a variety of poses and your reflection on how they appear has been honest. You have really engaged with considering if the pose matches the personality of the model. This is an interesting element to consider and important when photographing people as the tone can be really changed. As you suggested the model leaning against the tree, hand on hip could look forced and un-natural, also for this type of photography ensure you focus on the eyes (this image looks a little like the focus in on the foreground). The leaning against the fence is an attractive photograph and although you do not feel it gives clues about the personality of the model it is less forced and more natural looking than the first image. Again focus on the eyes as that is what the viewer looks at first. The jumping image is fun and has lots of energy. Being straight on and central in the frame makes it quite powerful although I do find the tree in behind a little distracting? With all that movement it is again difficult to focus on the face, when photographing movement like this it is good to keep repeating the shot to get the focus right, even do a count down with the model, ensure they jump the same way each time. With all of these images you have used a prop, either a tree or a fence and your model has either used these to lean on or jump from. Consider the place of this sort of prop, sometimes you will need to urge your model to move away from a wall or fence as the lighting may be compromised. Continue to experiment with your pose and how they enhance the models personality.
- Focal Length
You have demonstrated in your images three different focal lengths and examined the image created by each of these. You indicate you like the 200mm lens image most but encountered some issues with focus. Take note of not only the different look of the subjects face but also the background detail.
- Review a portrait sequence
Would have liked to have seen the entire sequence here or did you only take six images? You did reflect that when you looked at the images closer taking more may have given you a greater choice. You said the model wandered off during the shoot. When photographing children you have to be very prepared and work quite quickly or as you say the moment does pass. I wonder if you had the position all set up before they arrived and you were ready to shoot as soon as they were ready? If you have to spend time adjusting your camera while they are sitting there that doesn’t always work well with little people. It is also a good idea to have something bright and colourful to wave around to get their attention or involve them in making a noise or singing a song. The image you liked the most is well lit and the expression is good. The mother is a little awkward in her pose and it is difficult to see her expression, maybe having her look to the side of her baby would have been more attractive.
- Eye contact and expression
Working with such a young model is a challenge! A good range of expressions and you have reflected on how this engagement with the viewer changes the image. The images taken with the child in a hat are both sharp and in focus. The other images are a little soft, you need to really work on this element to get the best out of your portraits. Your composition is suitable for the images and it is interesting to see that you cropping the images quite tight. Your lighting seems to be suitable and you have used natural light well. The images do seem quite warm so experiment with your camera white balance and see if this makes a change, the naturally light images are quite clean and white (like the sequence images taken in the conservatory), the images of the baby taken from above are warm and lit from an overhead light as well.
- An active portrait
You obviously really enjoyed this exercise and you have really worked getting the model in various positions. You captured some natural expressions. When photographing children try and change your angle of view, in all of the images you are slightly looking down on the model, playing with looking at them from lower down could be fun in the environment.
- Experimenting with light
You have taken four images demonstrating different lighting environments. Some of the lighting can be quite challenging, the image looking at edge lighting is actually quite dark and seems to not be quite in focus. When working in this sort of environment experiment with some fill flash and expose more for the foreground other wise you get a silhouette.
- Thinking about location
A real variety of places looked at and your reflection of the location having a feel, which then you would like to fit a model into is useful. The location can really play an important role in giving more information to a portrait.
For your location shoots, you have made considered compositions, do take the time also to carefully frame the images and be aware of objects which may interfere in the shot eg the bench shot with a pole on one side, by moving a little that would have been easy to crop out.
Assignment 1- A portrait.
The body of work presented for this is pleasing. You have made a real connection with the sitter and there is a variety of poses and lighting choices. Image one is very engaging, do consider the background as it is still a little distracting even if you have demonstrated a good selective focus. Image two is capturing a moment and the tight crop helps this. Image three in the suitcase has very even clean lighting but the composition looks a little awkward and as you reflected the model was not comfortable. Image four, the two models are interacting well and it is a nice moment. The lighting in the back of the image makes you look at that first which is a shame as the emotion on the faces works well. Image five and six are both more candid shots in a controlled environment so the lighting works well. These images with the model looking away from the camera are strong.
The other images do have some lighting refinements needed, keep experimenting and working on this.
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context
Your Blog demonstrates your enthusiasm in the topic and your in-depth research into artists is useful. Continue to explore in this way and consider reading some of the suggested texts in the module guide. Good reference practice demonstrated so continue to work in this way.
I would also like to see a physical log book as well, this can be a more holistic document and can include your thoughts/ experiences (like exhibition catalogues), information gleaned from a variety of sources (like newspaper, magazine cuttings/ names of photographers you may want to refer back to later), contact sheets, it could also be an ongoing bibliography of critical texts/ include visual sketches/ thoughts and ideas.
In fact it can be however you like but it can also be a wonderful creative tool and I find I like to work in this way.
Suggested reading/viewing Context
For an inspirational log book (remember this is only one approach, you need to experiment with what feels comfortable to you)
Prakel, D (2007) Basics Photography: composition. Laussane: AVA Publishing.
Prakel, D (2009) Basics Photography: exposure. Laussane: AVA Publishing.