Today I received feedback for my TAOP Assignment 1 from my tutor Pete. I’m pleased with the feedback, which I have repeated below.
Tomas, as you probably know this assignment has its origins in the 1920s and 1930s with a similar version being used at the Bauhaus School in Germany throughout this time. I am not sure which photographers’ work you have looked at as a reference, but some photographers from this period who are worth checking out are Alexander Rodchenko, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Andre Kertez and Lewis Hine. All of these photographers use the various contrasts in different ways and styles to produce photographs that still retain a sense of modernity.
I do think its quite important to have a bit of historical knowledge within photography so you may find it worthwhile to have a look at other photographers’ work and put any thoughts and opinions of into your learning log. Also a good book that is a kind of an alternative history of photography, called ‘The Ongoing Moment’ by Geoff Dyer, is worth tracking down. It is a paperback so is quite cheap. I’ll always suggest photographers whose work I think may be of interest to you, but it is also worth finding out your own particular favourites and influences.
I also think your working methodology has to be congratulated, by getting other people involved you have tested the water so to speak, on how your images actually work. Of course photography is all about communicating with the viewer, the success of which depends on the actual photograph and its context.
I tend to agree with you that this pair are quite ambiguous, for the straight contrast I was drawn immediately to the fork which is positioned in a very formal manner. You could also say that the bowl containing the salad has a strong curve moving through the middle of the frame. The close-up shot of the cucumber seems to be more of a scientific shot that doesn’t really examine the natural curves of the vegetable. Possibly a full frontal shot of the cucumber could have worked better, whereas a shot of the cut straight pieces could have worked better for the straight contrast.
This pair work really well together the moving contrast shows a good technique where the movement helps to capture the atmosphere. There is still enough detail in the image so that you can make out the facial details of the young cadets. The portrait of John is an excellent shot, straightaway you get the sense of a proud and patriotic man. The flag is the most symbolic element in the image with the close crop also working well to emphasize the still contrast, the two shots also illustrate young and old quite well.
I found the many contrast to be a little problematic as I think the focus is on the daffodil rather than the leaves. The shallow depth of field and colour accent means that the flower is the prominent subject in the image and would have worked better as the few contrast in my opinion. I can see what you are trying to get across in the few contrast but I think you needed to find a part of the tree with only one or two leaves on the branches. The tree itself is almost in silhouette due to the exposure reading the background rather than the foreground.
The broad shot works really well, here we get an immediate sense of how the motorway cuts through the countryside in an undignified and quite ugly manner. This shot would have also worked for the continuous contrast. The narrow contrast is a good idea and is, as you say, quite claustrophobic. There are a few distracting parts of the image though, such as the text on the front of the hairdressers and the two cars in the foreground. The idea may have worked better if you had tried a shot from the other end of the lane, rather than from across the road.
The continuous shot is excellent, the composition works so well and the long exposure helps to keep things very simple and effective. I would be careful of using Photoshop to enhance your images though, I think the use of it is fairly well excepted in the advertising and fine art world but not so much in the documentary genre of photography. The intermittent image is very dynamic and yes you do get the sense of a dripping tap or something similar, but I would argue that this could be construed as being quite rhythmic and therefore continuous. I know this because I have recorded a dripping tap and used it as a beat in a music composition!
The pointed contrast is again a good idea and the humour of the image shines through quite well, although I don’t think the added ‘star’ to emphasize the sharpness is really needed. The simple arrangement of the pencil and the letter works well, but we are not sure that the letter is blunt or to the point as we can only read ‘Dear John’, which of course often means writing a letter to a partner explaining that a relationship is over, so the image becomes a little ambiguous with that in mind.
I think the small image could have been more successful if you had maybe just picked out one of the goslings, the small depth of field doesn’t work all that well as the small area of focus is slightly confusing. I think maybe that is down to the unplanned nature of the shot, whereas the image of the adult swan is very good and illustrates perfectly the contrast and the waiting game that us photographers like to play from time to time!
These are a great pair of portraits and I don’t have a problem with your subject matter at all, but yes no doubt someone somewhere would get a little uptight with this pair. The high key lighting in the light image works perfectly as does the small depth of field, which helps to put all the attention on the child’s face and eyes. The dark image is full of joy and shows what a culturally rich country we live in.
This is a really great idea! I think that by leaving the label in the image it becomes more of an advertising concept, plus the fact that you used baby oil rather than water it shows also to what lengths the advertising industry will go to. Here the construction of the image is quite deceiving and nothing is quite what it seems! You have highlighted a really ethical part of photography here and is something that raises many arguments in the world of picture taking.
I know that you had personal issues throughout this assignment, so I can only say well done on completing the assignment and getting back into taking photographs. You have some interesting ideas here, but I do think your strength seems to be in portraiture and landscape imagery. Maybe this is something you would like to develop throughout the course?
Your online learning log makes for excellent reading, although as I mentioned earlier I would try and include other photographers’ or artists work that you like or dislike. It does help to be constructively critical of others work as this can often help with your own ways of working. Please do get in touch if you have any queries or questions about this report or the course, or anything else for that matter.