BA Phot

C&N: Assignments

Back - - Melting pot - Asg.1 - Asg.2 - Asg.3 - Asg.4 - Asg.5

[14Nov19] I intend to be better organised on the assignments for C&N. When the course material arrives, I will:

The delivery plan for the assignments was noted in the Preamble,

[13Nov] I intend to work through C&N more quickly than EyV. As a starting point, I will allocate one month for each of the five Parts interspersed with another month for each of the five Assignments. Thus, Part 1 December, Asg. 1 January, Part 2 February etc. This will allow contingency for the Parts to overlap with the Assignment months, but I will aim to deliver the Asgs at the end of Jan 2020, March, May, July and September. Preamble
Title Due (end of) Dev link  
Two sides of the story January 2020 Link  
Asg. 2 March Link  
Self portraits May April Link  
A picture is worth a thousand words July Link  
Making it up September    

Box A

Asg. 1 - Two sides of the story, Jan20

This assignment is designed to give your tutor a feel for your work and won’t count towards your final grade if you decide to have your work assessed. However, the assessors may wish to see it so that they can gauge your progress across the course.
Create at least two sets of photographs telling different versions of the same story. The aim of the assignment is to help you explore the convincing nature of documentary, even though what the viewer thinks they see may not in fact be true. Try to make both sets equally convincing so that it’s impossible to tell which version of the images is ‘true’.
It might be interesting to consider the project as evidence for a court case. What conflicting stories can you make your images convincingly tell? Would it stand up in court?
Choose a theme and aim for 5–7 images for each set, depending on your idea. Discuss this with your tutor. Here are a few ideas:
• You could interpret this brief by showing the same scenario from two different angles. Does this alter how we read the situation?
• You may wish to create an alter ego by using snapshots of yourself or a friend. This could involve photographing them in two very different and potentially conflicting personas.
• You could make a parody of a dating website profile picture. Create different versions of the same person looking completely different in each one. Which one represents them best and how can we know?
Or you may prefer to use your own take on the theme. However you choose to interpret the brief, ensure the images are candid and ‘taken from real life’. Be experimental and take some risks. Perhaps you could make a list of ideas and choose the most challenging or absurd option to stretch yourself.
Send your sets of images to your tutor by the method you’ve agreed. Include an introduction of 300 words outlining what you set out to do and how you went about it. Also send to your tutor the relevant pages of your learning log or your blog url.
It’s good to get in the habit of printing your work so try to send prints to your tutor where possible. This is not obligatory but will help when it comes to assessment. Developing your prints in order to achieve the best results is a long process so it’s best to start now. OCA, Photography 2: Context & Narrative, p. 45

Key phrases — (from Dev) [5Nov19] I have two immediate ideas, both relating to subjects encountered in EyV. The key phrases in the scope are, in my view, "two sets of photographs telling different versions of the same story" and "explore the convincing nature of documentary". Documentary, to me, means factual and dispassionate (explanatory, or possibly purely descriptive in Barrett's terms [1]). Alternatively, the second quoted phrase might be interpreted as challenge the convincing nature of documentary.

Summary — One subject, two contrasting or opposing aspects.

1. Churches - contrast the elaboration (or absence thereof) in the interior decoration and accoutrements in two places of worship, not necessarily both Christian.
2. Protestors on two sides of an argument - the obvious choice is Brexit but we are in a Brexit lacuna at the moment.

Asg. 2 - [there's a choice], Mar20

Choose between the following two assignments:

1. Photographing the unseen
Start by doing some reflecting in your learning log. What kinds of subjects might be seen as un-photographable? How might you go about portraying them using photography? List a few examples of things you’re experiencing now or have recently been thinking about. This doesn’t have to be too in-depth or revealing, but it can be if you want. Equally, it might be something as apparently trivial as how you’re going to fit everything into your busy day. At first you may come up with literal examples, but the more you think about them the more those ideas will develop into specific and more original ones.
Make a list of at least seven ideas. Try and keep to things you have a personal interest in or curiosity about. Keep a notebook with you at all times and make notes when ideas strike you as interesting. (This is good practice for all stages of the degree and beyond. Ideas books are something to be revisited time and again for ideas and hints for the photographer you’re becoming.)
Now implement one of your ideas. Aim for a tightly edited and visually consistent series of 7–10 images.

2. Using props
This option is about photographing an object to suggest a narrative.
Choose between a white shirt and a handkerchief for your object. Once you’ve decided, make a series of 7–10 photographs which tell a story about or including your object. You can make your photographic style anything you like. You may wish to include the prop in all of your series or just some of the images, depending on the narrative.
Bear in mind that the story is being alluded to through the use of the prop and its location – and characters should you choose to include them.
Draw a storyboard before you start to help you consider the progression of the plot and how you’ll set up the shots.
Now implement one of your ideas. Aim for a tightly edited and visually consistent series of 7–10 images.

Whichever assignment option you choose, send your series to your tutor by the method agreed together with an introduction of around 300 words. You should also send to your tutor the relevant pages of your learning log or blog url. C&N p. 69


Key phrases — text

Summary — text

Nelson Dead money spider
Box B
1. Nelson, Jul 2019
2. Dead money spider, Nov 2019

Ideas — [22Nov19] first thoughts — I think I am likely to opt for Unseen rather that Props. And my initial notion is a little off topic, unseen other than through the intervention of photography. My first encounter with this topic sprang up when I was trying out a new long lens in Trafalgar Square and photographed Nelson, atop his column, full frame (fig. B1). The statue is bound with what looks like that metal tape that is used on packing cases. It cannot normally be seen from ground level (with my eyes, at least), but needs a specialist lens. Similarly, the use of a macro lens reveals details that a camera and the human eye cannot normally see. Right is one I took earlier today (fig. B2).

Box C

Asg. 3 - Self portraits, May20

Drawing upon the examples in Part Three and your own research, you can approach your self-portraits however you see fit. You may choose to explore your identity or masquerade as someone else, or use empty locations or objects to speak of your experiences. However you choose to approach it, use yourself – directly or indirectly – as subject matter.
Keep a diary for a set period of time (at least two weeks). Each day write two or three pages about yourself – what you’ve been doing/thinking. This can be as specific or poetic as you wish. You may wish to pick a theme for the duration. This is an open brief designed to give you freedom to create something personal which suits you best. Use the artists you’ve looked at in Part Three or your own research for inspiration.
Select the most interesting parts of the diary (which could also be the most banal or mundane) and interpret them into a photographic project.
A good way to approach selection could be to ask a friend/fellow student/stranger to read it and send back a highlighted version. You could then base your project on those parts. This would take the pressure off you to find a ‘good story’.
You may choose to select a few days or phrases that spark an idea for you, or you may wish to exaggerate how you were feeling one day into a parody of yourself or the circumstance. You may wish to create a ‘document’ of that time in a re-creation of events – or direct a model to act out some of the content of the diary, making your own ‘film- stills’.
You could present your chosen diary entries as a visual diary or use it as a springboard for further exploration. You may choose to insert the pictures like snapshots into your diary and hand it all in together. You don’t have restrict yourself to the diary itself; you may decide to use it to take you into new territory.
Send your finished piece to your tutor by the method agreed together with an introduction of around 300 words briefly setting out your rationale and how you approached this project. You should also send to your tutor the relevant pages of your learning log or blog url. C&N p.89

Key phrases — text

Summary — text

Ideas — [22Nov19] first thoughts — The self portraits I admire most are those by John Coplans and Lee Friedlander, especially the former. I would not be surprised if one or the other influences this assignment.

[4Dec19] Another idea is to immitate other s-ps by photographers — there are a few of them here. I am leaning towards what I have characterised as the male tendency in s-ps.

[4Dec19] Also, I happen to be listening to Ted Simon's Jupiter's Travels [2] on audiobook at the moment. A relevant passage cropped up today,

In the oval, engraved mirror of a colonial dining car I actually take notice of my face for the first time in a long while. Action has freed me from self-consciousness and I am becoming a stranger to my own appearance. It is a very satisfying feeling. I no longer think of people seeing me as I see myself in a mirror. Instead, I imagine that people can see directly into my soul. It is as though a screen between me and the world has dropped away. Ted Simon , Jupiter's Travels, Chapter 4

Asg. 4 - A picture is worth a thousand words, Jul20

A picture is worth a thousand words

Write an essay of 1,000 words on an image of your choice.
The image can be anything you like, from a famous art photograph to a family snapshot, but please make sure that your chosen image has scope for you to make a rigorous and critical analysis.
• If you choose a well-known photograph, take time to research its context – the intentions of the photographer, why it was taken, whether it’s part of a series, etc. Add all this information into your essay to enable you to draw a conclusion from your own interpretation of the facts.
• If you choose to use a found photograph, a picture from your own collection, or perhaps one from an old family archive, use it as an opportunity to find out something new. Avoid telling us about that particular holiday or memory – look directly to the photograph for the information. It may be interesting to compare and contrast your memory with the information you’re now seeing anew from ‘reading’ the picture so intensely.

It’s not enough to write an entirely descriptive or historical account of your chosen image. You must use the facts as a means to draw your own conclusions about what the picture means to you. You may wish to apply what you’ve learned in Part Four regarding translation, interpretation, connotation, signs, punctum, etc., but be sure you get the definitions correct.
Follow thought associations and other images that relate to the discussion, directly or indirectly. Look at the broader context of the image and its background and specific narrative as well as your personal interpretation of it and what thoughts it triggers for you. Follow these associations in a thoughtful and formal way. Allow yourself to enjoy the process!
There are many good examples of writing about single images (e.g. Sophie Howarth’s Singular Images), which you may find helpful to read before attempting your own. Take note of the level of critical analysis and aim for a similar approach in your own writing. You may write about personal connections but ensure you express yourself in a formally analytical and reflective manner. C&N p.105

Bill Brandt
Box D
Northumbrian coal miner eating
his evening meal
, 1937, Bill Brandt

Books on Brandt

Key phrases — text

Summary — text

Ideas — [22Nov19] first thoughts — Perhaps Bill Brandt's Northumbrian coal miner eating his evening meal, 1937.

I made these notes on 17Dec19 on the quote, forgetting that we're writing about a particular image. They are the beginning of an examination of the truth of the phrase itself. And don't forget the driving violation.

IKEA instructions - DIAGRAM.
Song asinine , means you can’t paint.
Depends on intentions and purpose

There are several matters to address here. Firstly, what does the phrase mean; then is the phrase accurate? Moving on to the image chosen for examination, what are the criteria for chosing it? and then how many words is it "worth" and why.

Box E

Asg. 5 - Making it up, Sep20

Construct a stand-alone image of your choice. Alternatively, you may choose to make a series, elaborating on the same theme.
As the culminating assignment for the course you may wish to draw upon skills learned from Parts One to Four – using various forms of Earrative, using yourself as subject matter, telling stories and reading images. The only stipulation is that you produce work that has been controlled and directed by you for a specific purpose. Remember to create a story with a specific context like the artists you’ve looked at in Part Five. This means you need to have an artistic intention, so a good place to start would be to write down some ideas. This could then form the basis for a 300-word introduction to the piece. You may find it helpful to draw storyboards to help you visualise your ideas.
The aim of this assignment is to use props, costume, models, location, lighting, etc. to contribute to the overall meaning of the image. (Use flash/lights if required but available light is fine as long as it is considered.)
If the narrative is to be set in a different era then the elements of the image must reflect this. Also consider the symbolic meanings of objects and try not to be too literal in your approach. For example, don’t automatically use red roses in a love scene but try to be subtle in your ideas to obtain a more true-to-life scenario.
For this final assignment, you should also include an illustrated evaluation of the process you went through to produce your final image(s). Include snapshots of setting up the work and write about how you felt your direction went, how you found the location, props, etc. How did this process affect the final outcome? Write around 1,000 words in total (including your 300-word introduction).
Send your final image(s) to your tutor, along with your commentary and relevant pages of your learning log (or blog url). C&N p.122

Key phrases — text

Summary — text

Ideas — [3May20] Although I do not appear to have mentioned it, I have long thought of recreating Brandt's Northumbrian Miner, the subject of Asg.4, as a self-portrait, possibly featuring Mrs.B. and with photographic paraphernalia as props (Billingham Bag on the wall, hangong films, camera and developing gear on the table. See the 3rd May blog post for an ideal prop.

Melting pot

This is where all the assignment ideas meet to plan photographic outings and adventures. It remains to be seen how (or whether) this will work.

[20Mar20] Asg.2 is ready to go as soon as the prints come back from DSC Labs . Three left:
Asg.3 - self portraits is well advanced in planning. I will be imitating some well known photographic s-ps, details here.
Asg.4 - an essay on a particular image and I intend to run with Brandt's Northumbrian coal miner. Quite a lot of the research has already been done, which is just as well because with the country in coronavirus lockdown, I won't be visiting the V&A library any time soon.
Asg.5 - create a single image. I intend to recreate Brandt's Northumbrian coal miner.

The observant reader will note that all the remaining assignment photography can be done at home and, again, that's ust as well.



1. Barrett, T. (2000) Criticising photographs, an introduction to understanding images. 3rd ed. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing

2. Simon, T. (1980) Jupiter's Travels. London:Penguin.


Page created 14-Nov-2019 | Page updated 23-May-2020