Monday, November 15, 2010

Assignment 4: Tutor Feedback

First of all Alan commented on my choice of subject and affinity towards the district of Haidhausen, I would have found this a much harder exercise had I been working in a district about which I knew very little or had no empathy towards.  A key goal in this assignment was to portray my own view of Haidhasuen, not to simply create a touristic vision designed to entice people to visit.  From the overall tone of Alan's comments, I think I succeeded, however, it was far from a flawless set of images.

My reaction to the suggestion of supplying 6 images selected from 12 was to provide 6 pairs of images each tackling a specific (loosely defined) theme.  My tutor would then if effect be in the position of a commissioning editor and have the opportunity to select between the images, or indeed reject both requesting new input.  In responding to his comments I will treat the image pairs as submitted and make any changes:

1. Entertainment

Both images passed muster and the key comment is that it would be very difficult to select between them.  I was most surprised by the reaction to the second image, I really wrestled with whether or not to submit this, as I felt it was a little too pretty, however, it was seen as capturing the essence of street life.  I agree, I just wondered.  From these comments I would stick with my first choice:

2. Street Life

Here Alan disagreed with my selection finding the second image a better choice than the first.  The first image of the fruit and veg shop was considered to be too wide angle, a closer in shot that emphasized the colour of the produce would have worked better.  My goal with this shot was contextual, the framing was selected to show the structure of a farm building in the depths of a city, however, I take the point, better framing might improve the shot

Although the selected photo from this section would be:

3. Cafes

Alan did not clearly prefer either image, but made critical observations of the composition of the Wiener cafe image, stating that there is too much negative space in the foreground dominated by the tram tracks.  He asked if I could re frame with more detail above the cafe:

I have to agree, this is now better balanced, the eye is brought to the diners and is less distracted by the tram tracks - thanks!  The other image was fine, but I will keep this one!

4. Volksbad and River

This was an interesting and perhaps risky submission, two photographs of the same building from very similar viewpoints, but with dramatically different lighting.  Everyone I asked automatically preferred the bright blue sky, however, I much prefer the softer less contrasty image taken under an overcast sky.  Fortunately Alan agreed, the softer light creates better tonality in the building and avoids distracting shadows.

This was a key learning point for me, lighting is everything in photography and the dramatic is not always the best choice.

5. Housing

These two images were very different, the first was a scene of peaceful relaxation, the second a vision of urban dereliction.  Both worked, however, Alan agreed with my choice to reject the second in favor of the first.  My photographic essay is meant to be a comment on the experience of the district and i truth Haidhausen is predominantly a comfortable place to live that has been well planned, so the first image makes the cut

6. Industry and Work

This image pair contained my favorite of the images, a bleak outlook over an industrial storage area, backed by the ever present high rise cranes.  The alternate image was a much brighter modern picture with strong vibrant colours, but losing some of the meaning that the other image could convey, so we keep my #1

In closing, I was very pleased with the feedback, it is helping me to develop a visual language and understand what works and what does not.  My biggest challenge currently is not technical or even compositional, it is understanding what makes a good photograph and how to select from wide number of photographs those that work best.  I am reading widely, particularly historical works to try and better understand how the aesthetic of photography has developed.  I am also looking at others works, currently that of German artists such as Sander, the Bechers, and Gursky.  Alan suggested that I consider Martin Parr, I do have "The Last Resort", but will take a look at other work.

Thanks again to my tutor for great feedback and helping my development, much work still to do.

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