Assignment 5: slow progress

I’m slowing down a bit on this assignment for various reasons. I’ll pick it up again properly in the new year and will focus on the section five coursework until then…

Some big picture context first

At the start of 2016 I set myself the target of completing both my Level 2 courses (Documentary and Gesture & Meaning) in time for the January 2017 submission deadline, which realistically meant finishing up before Christmas and spending January doing a little rework (not too much) and mainly pulling together the submission packs.

This has proved to be optimistic…

I’m almost finished on Gesture & Meaning: all coursework is done and five out of six assignments are done, with just an essay left to write. I will submit this in January.

Documentary looked on the face of it to be slightly less work overall: only five assignments compared to G&M‘s six. However, whereas G&M finishes coursework at the end of section four, leaving only two (non-photographic) assignments for the last third of the course, Documentary continues with coursework through section five. Add to this the brief that the final assignment is the ‘personal project’ and is intended to be bigger in terms of both scope and final deliverables than all the other assignment, it’s become apparent recently that I’m not going to finish Documentary before Christmas! So I’ve told my tutor to expect the assignment sometime around the end of February / beginning of March.

This realisation sunk in after a few photoshoots for Assignment 5 over the last week and a half…

Experience so far

My assignment is based on producing 10-15 pairs of images (‘positive’ and ‘negative’) from shoots in the following six northern English towns and cities that voted heavily to leave the EU:

  • Accrington
  • Barnsley
  • Burnley
  • Hull
  • Middlesbrough
  • Redcar

So far I have shot in three locations, with the following experiences:

  • Accrington:
    • I struggled to get many ‘positive’ images (and the weather was atrocious)
  • Middlesbrough:
    • Opposite problem – there’s been lots of regeneration in the centre and it was harder than I anticipated to find the more disadvantaged side of the town!
  • Hull:
    • A timing problem… the entire city centre is being dug up for regeneration works in advance of the 2017 European City of Culture celebrations
    • So getting any photos without cranes, workmen, holes in the road, barriers, ramps or apologetic signs is pretty much impossible :-/
    • But it will be lovely when it’s finished, I’m sure…!

Add to these specific problems a few general learnings:

  • Shooting in some of the more disadvantaged areas is proving more difficult than I expected
    • Quite a few suspicious looks from people
    • (and I’m too introverted to walk over and chat with them…)
  • Generally I’m trying to shoot photos without too many people in them
    • As I want to let the places speak for themselves rather than use people as signifiers (this may sound odd / not make a lot of sense, but I know what I mean…)
    • But the time of year is meaning that the town centres in particular are exceptionally busy (Christmas shopping)
  • Frankly, I haven’t done enough research and planning on what kind of subject matter I want
    • I was expecting to be inspired once on location, but it isn’t really happening that way just yet…

The result of all of these points is that from three days of shooting over two weeks, I only have a handful of images that I am happy with.

So with all of this in mind, I think I’m postponing further shoots until the new year. I’ll no doubt go back to the three locations already used, but hopefully come back with better results.

Some more processing experiments

I’ve been posting work-in-progress for this assignment, even though I’m not happy with the images, as I’m experimenting with the layout – this is an important aspect of the presentation on this assignment.

The thing I’m playing with at the minute is how to depict the % split between the two parts of the composite image.

Next steps

  • Step away from it for a while and come back with a fresh pair of eyes later!

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