352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 12 (One-to-One Tutorials with Emma Critchley, David Rule and Caroline Molloy)

On Wednesday 29th April 2015, we had another day dedicated to the 352MC Professional photographic Practice or Final Major Project (FMP) module. Throughout this day, we had optional one-to-one tutorials with a number of different lecturers and guest lecturers, including Anthony Luvera, Caroline Molloy, David Rule and Emma Citchley. Originally deciding to attend tutorials with all four of the lecturers that were available, half way through the day I gave my slot with Anthony Luvera up for another student that was in desperate need to discuss with him the development of her project. The feedback that I received within these three one-to-one tutorials (with Emma Critchley, David Rule, and Caroline Molloy), as well as the key points that I am going to be taking away from today, can therefore be found below (please note, any descriptions or responses I provided can also be seen below in italics):

 

One-to-One Tutorial with Emma Critchley:

To start off this one-to-one tutorial with Emma Critchley, I decided to explain to her the main gist of my project (that it was created as a way for me to reconnect to my deceased Grandpa through walking along and documenting the paths that we experienced together, in order to trigger the recollection of individuals memories that I have of him), before spending more time discussing slightly more specific aspects of the project:

  • For my final piece, I’m thinking of having a triptych that consists of a piece of collected material from the walk, a photograph of the landscape, and accompanying text that describes the memories I recollect
    • So what does the collective material do? What does that add?
      • I think it just enhances the immersive aspect of the project, as well as highlighting the methodology and the fact that I am actually revisiting these places
      • But doesn’t the photograph of the landscape do that?
      • And is this the object itself or will it be a photograph?
        • Well I need to experiment with that, because I thought it would be the object itself, but it obviously depends on if it works with the piece of work, because I’ve got still-life images of the objects as well that I could use
      • I would just question what the object does/adds to the project – it doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong at all, but just think about what does it actually bring to the piece that the image doesn’t
      • I just think there’s just something about not being too literal – leave space for the viewers imagination, does it matter that we don’t know where you are?
        • Does the actual geographical space matter, or is it about a space that you and your Grandpa are familiar with – and that “space” means a psychological space, it means a memory space, it’s not just landscape
      • The object focuses on the landscape as a “space” and shadows the other psychological spaces
      • I know that I could easily make this a very literal piece and I definitely don’t want to do that – but I will experiment with it and then just reflect on it afterwards
  •  I’ve got so many photos here and I haven’t had time to prepare them before our tutorial, but I just need to go through and choose some of my favourite images from each of the places (there are six different places that I visited in total because they holed the strongest places for me) – I want to represent that place with a single image
    • Why? – With these photos in particular, I’ve experimented with the composition and perspective of the image so that it leads the viewer towards a particular destination, which can then be used to represent the fact that I’m walking down the path (so the physical aspect of the methodology), as well as symbolizing the idea that this pathway is leading my down a psychological path to the recollection of my memories
      • So I want to use one photos to represent the memory of the place in general, rather than lots of different shots from the same location
    • I am definitely drawn to some images over others, but some of them do not conform to the “middle-of-the-road” aesthetic I have tried to capture
      • I need to just look through the photographs and try and figure out which ones I think best represent the memory
      • I wouldn’t worry about being too formulaic with this – it feels like you’re very controlled, and I think you need to try and free yourself from that, especially as you’re dealing with memory
      • You may have six places, but it might not mean that you need six places – don’t feel like you have to put them all in
      • I would also say, if that image represents the place as you want to represent it, just because it doesn’t fit in with your composition, don’t worry about that and use it anyway
      • I also feel like you don’t need to do all of this (the triptych) for each of the six places
        • Well for the exhibition I was only planning on choosing one to display as a triptych, to “showcase” the whole collection
  • So what is the final outcome of this piece, is it a book? Is it an exhibition?
    • I do see it as an exhibition because I originally thought that I wanted it as a book because obviously it’s quite a personal story, but then I’m thinking that I’ve chosen to share this and I should embrace that – I want to show it off to the world rather than closing it off in a bookI’m also planning on looking into including the use of ambient sounds within the exhibition space as well, just to try and make it more immersive
  •  What do you want the viewers to get from this piece? This is a very personal thing, what do you want from me, who’s never met you, never met your Grandfather, never been to these locations, what do you want me to get from it?
    • That’s the problem I’ve had, and how to make it accessible to the viewer
    • I want to be able to create a piece of work, where obviously the viewers understand the memory aspect of the project, but I want them to take away the idea that by visiting different places, they can re-trigger their personal memories
    • I’m using my personal memories as an example to suggest that individuals can revisit different places to aid in the recollection of their memories and the reconnection to an individual in the past
  • I think you need to loosen up you’re strategy a bit and really think about what feels appropriate for that space – is it text, is it sound, is it just the image?
    • Really be quite strict with yourself and see what feels right for each place – and there might not even be a photograph for one place
    • I know what you mean about how you want the viewer to connect to the space even though they may not have actually been there, and that’s what I’m talking about with not being too literal – it’s a psychological space, it’s a memory space, it’s a feeling of being somewhere (not the place itself)
      • It’s a transportation that starts with the personal but becomes something that other people can connect with – but that’s really hard to do
    • It might be that you only end up with three chosen images, but there’s more to them than the triptych, and you kind of build something that’s a bit more for those three – that’s my personal opinion
      • And it could be that you have five of these location photographs and that you use this particular triptych display for, say, three of them, and then you change the other two – I think this would be stronger
      • I love the idea of the sound, and I would move away from things that root it too solidly
      • I think the collected material could work beautifully, but it’s just for each thing you should be thinking “why?”, “what is it doing?” – and again, it doesn’t have to be in a literal way, but is it bringing a sense of something, and keep asking other people
  • My main advice: If your formula is too controlled, it can often take away from the project itself – let the work create it’s own structure

 

One-to-One Tutorial with David Rule:

Similar to the one-to-one tutorial that I had with Emma Critchley, to start off session, I decided to explain to him the main gist of my project (that it was created as a way for me to reconnect to my deceased Grandpa through walking along and documenting the paths that we experienced together, in order to trigger the recollection of individuals memories that I have of him), before spending more time discussing slightly more specific aspects of the project:

  • I wasn’t really going to talk to you about the photos, if that’s okay, because I still need to go through them and see which ones I think are best suited for my final piece
    • Okay, but they’re of the paths right?
    • Yes, they’re of the paths do I’ll just show you a couple of examples
    • I’m pleased that you’ve developed this because I was very interested in it when I first saw you
    • Yes, well I was originally photographing the landscapes, and now I’ve obviously decided to focus on the paths, because I’ve looked into “The Art of Walking” and people like Richard Long and Hamish Fulton
    • See, I don’t know, but I guess that in a way, these were the photographs that your Grandpa didn’t take, he would have been on these paths to shoot something else – so you’re filling in the gaps
    • Well yeah, I also quite liked this idea of using a “middle-of-the-road” compositional element, because, obviously it shows my methodology of me walking down these particular paths, but I also think that it can be used to represent the psychological pathway I’ve been taken down to reconnect to these lost memories
  • But, what I was actually going to talk to you about is text, because I’m thinking of having accompanying text within a triptych (of a piece of collected material, the photographs, and the text)
    • So there will be six triptych’s overall? – Yeah there theoretically will be, but I’m only going to show one of them in the exhibition as an insight into the collection
    • So for the accompanying text, I want to use this section to discuss the memories that I recall
    • I’ve got loads of experimentation to do with the text – I’ve looked at loads of different types (such as poems, singular words, etc.)
    • So that means I can’t obviously show you that and ask for your opinion on it, but I know I just need to experiment – but I also remember from the question that I asked you in the lecture the following time we met, you suggested that the type of writing comes with the project
      • So I’ll test these out, but at the end of the day, I will choose the one that I think fits the project (obviously)
    • Yeah, I think you have to be truthful to the project
      • If you think that distilling everything to a single word is a bit contrived, then that’s obviously not the right style of writing to use
      • This project is obviously about truth, and your truth
      • I wouldn’t construct the text too much
  •  Another thing you might want to try is to record yourself talking
    • I’ve actually done an interview with my Dad (because my Grandpa is my Dad’s Dad), so then I had a discussion with him about the places and the memories that we both remember from these particular locations
    • So I do have a section of that, but because it’s with my Dad I don’t think it’s as affective as me just saying it
    • Maybe, but it’s probably quite useful having it as a conversation rather than you on your own, because that probably relaxes you into it, and your responses may have been a bit more honest and less “thought out”
      • This could be useful because these photographs are very strict images, they’re very topographic – this movement of very survey-like images of the same thing over and over again, or a kind of in between space
      • So for the text to be a little bit more informal might be quite useful because you’re talking about something sentimental – that’s why you’re taking these images; as perfect as they are, you’re taking them in an emotive kind of place
  •  Tell me again about the collected materials
    • I do need to experiment with it, but on the paths I decided to collect different materials from the location that could be associated with that location – so, like bits of twigs that I know are from trees within that particular area
    • I’ve taken still-life photos of the materials as well, but I need to see (as I’ve had a discussion with Emma Critchley) if it makes the project too literal and if I just want to focus on the diptych
    • Figure out what that extra material is doing, and if it’s job is actually important – if it becomes coherent or if it’s an extra thing
    • Also, if you present an object with a photograph, there’s this conceptual concern that the photograph isn’t enough, so an object is used to provide evidence and truth – and I don’t know if that’s a tangent
      • It’s a valid thing, but I think by putting those two together (the photo and the object), it might lessen what you’re doing
  •  So you haven’t got any examples of the text yet?
    • I don’t have any that I have written for this particular project, but this idea stemmed from one of my previous modules called #Phonar, and the “Transformative Storytelling” task that I completed, where I looked into flicktion (where individuals take an image from Flickr and use it to write a story) – so I looked at one of the photos I had already created in the Lake District and I wrote about the memory I associated with the place
    • (I then showed David Rule the piece of writing that I wrote for this particular task, which can be found at: https://hollyconstantinephotography.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/phonar-session-four-task-transformative-storytelling/)
    • It’s great and it does things that the photograph doesn’t do, and I think that’s the important thing – you’re talking about sound, temperature, and all the things that photography couldn’t
    • I think this is the kind of style that I’m leaning more towards for this project, but obviously I do want to test out other pieces of text – this is the way in which I normally write and I feel like it suits the project
    • There might be an option to shift the tense as well – you’ve written in the present tense at the moment, but it might be interesting to talk about the past as well because that, again, offers something that the photograph can’t
    • Well I was thinking of doing something similar to flicktion, so using these current photos to talk about the idea that I’m walking down this path, whilst then moving on to suggest what I remember
    • I think that could be a winner
  • Another thing to do with text that I wanted to ask you about was the title
    • I’ve found that I’ve gone from really cheesy to too literal – like “A Pathway to the Past” and “A Walk with my Grandpa”
    • I’d be closer to the second one, that does what it needs to do
      • I need to bring my Grandpa into it
      • Yes you do
    • I just need to think about that a little bit more, and I think it might actually come with the text – I’ll start to see themes that are coming up
      • When you’ve got the text, when you write it like this (the flicktion), or if you take it from the transcript of the interview you had with your Dad, however, you do it, there could be a few words in there that you lift and turn into the title
      • So it’s a quote rather than the title, and that might side-step any of those cheesy or literal ideas
        • Something like “He always used to pick up rocks”
        • If you pick the right quote, we know that you’re talking about someone (a man), he’s no longer around, it’s in the past, and it’s talking about landscapes as well
        • If you get the right quote, it’ll do what it needs to do without shoving it down the viewers throat
        • Look to the text for the tone of the title
  •  As for your final pieces, I’d like to see more than one on the wall, if it’s possible to present more than one
    • A big part of this seems to be this effort to find those memories, or that sense of being with him, and I think that happens over visiting a few locations rather than just one

 

One-to-One Tutorial with Caroline Molloy:

Differing slightly from the two previous one-to-one tutorials, during a break that I had between David Rule’s and Caroline Molloy’s sessions, I was able to narrow down the images from my project to come up with a collection of 12 images I was contemplating for my final piece. Within this one-to-one session, as Caroline knew the main gist of my project relatively well, we simply spent time discussing slightly more specific aspects of the project:

  • Looking at the narrowed down photographs, some of the images are from the same location, so I need to narrow it down even further to find my final six images
    • I think I need to choose the photographs that I think are more appropriate to represent the memory that I recall
    • I don’t know that, just pick the good pictures
    • In terms of editing, these are looking repetitive so that’s a quick way to edit – some of these are doing the same thing, so if you want the photographs to represent different aspects of memories and journey, cut out the ones that look too similar
    • They’re great images
    • This one (the one of Latrigg) is very different lighting to the everything else, so maybe that’s one to drop if you want a series to work well together
    • Don’t get too caught up on “this happened here”, just pick good images
  • So I should just explain that I am planning on doing a triptych (with the collected materials, the photo, and accompanying text)
    • That’s the idea, but talking to the other two tutors, they suggested that I could just use a diptych because we’re unsure as to what the collect object actually adds anything to the project (if it’s useful, or if it’s just an extra), so obviously I’m going to experiment with that
    • They’re the ideas I’m running with at the moment, but I just need to test, test, test
  • I also don’t have any text at the moment, but I did something similar for #Phonar and that’s the style of writing that I’m leaning towards
    • So why isn’t there any text at the moment?
      • I haven’t trialed them, because I’ve done so much research into different styles of text, so I want to experiment with the different styles that I’ve looked at to see if there’s one that fits the project better than the others
      • So we’ve got the content, it’s just the style that you haven’t looked at yet
    • David Rule is really your man to talk to about text – yeah, I showed him the style of writing that I was considering and he really liked it and thought that it went well with my work
    • So what are your options with the text, how are you thinking you might want to show it? It’s very poetic
      • There’s loads of different styles I’m going to try out – so there’s this more poetic style, I’ve looked at Robert Macfarlane who write quite personally with an academic twist so that it’s more relatable to the viewer, and I’ve looked at someone who just uses singular words
    • Okay, so it sounds like you’ve settled on the poetic, and that suits you and it comes naturally, but how are you thinking of marrying it with the image?
      • Well, I was originally thinking of having the text quite big next to the photo so that they were the same size, creating a balanced piece
      • But if I were to go down the route of using a collected material and chose one that was relatively small, I’d try and have the text in a smaller square so that it balanced the piece again
      • But I thought you wee going to loose the collected object, and just have the photo and text? So what I need from you is that now you’ve decided the kind of context, you need to play about with how they sit together
        • I’ve also got some still-lives that I need to experiment with using
  • I think you know what you need to do, so there’s no point in me giving you more advise and confusing you
  • Shall we have a look at your artist statement?
    • (Please find a scanned in copy of my artist statement, with some of Caroline’s suggestion, below)
    • Do you want this beyond a university project? If so, we need to loose the fact that you’re a student studying at Coventry University choosing a project, because it’s more than that
    • I think this is great
    • Maybe starting here, saying something like: “This collection was created to explore an underlying inspiration and influence of my love of landscape photography.”
    • So this bit is a bit confusing so I think you just need to re-organize it and say something like: “My Grandpa was my inspiration and influence for my ‘love’ of landscape photography” – Okay, but in what way was he?
      • He’s the one that introduced me to both photography and the love of the landscape
      • So that’s better, so say something like: “My Grandfather introduced me to the landscape.” and then you could do something like “This collection was created to explore an underlying interest and love of the landscape.”
      • So it introduces your Granddad and then tells the viewer that you really love it, and this is what the work is about
    • I don’t normally mind about it being first person or third person, but I think there is something about the third person that means you can be a bit more detached
      • That’s what I was thinking because I asked Anthony Luvera if it needed to be in the first or third person, and he said that it depended on the type of project – So I originally thought that because it’s quite a personal project that the first person could work quite well, but then I don’t want it to be too personal
      • I think it’s getting in the way – so imagine I had made the work and you were writing about it
      • You’re a good writer, we know that
      • So just say something like “Constantine revisited the Lake District, inspired by her personal memories, and chose to walk down the paths , retracing her Grandfathers steps” – it sounds more professional
    • If you need a breath, it means that the sentence is too long
    • You could have something like: “The diptych’s are a personal response to the landscape, inspired by Constantine’s younger memories of her Grandfather”
    • I think it’s all there, it just needs a little bit of re-working
  • Just quickly though, the title, I was talking to David Rule about it, and he offered me really good advice
    • I wanted to incorporate Grandpa into the title, so that the viewer knew what it was about without giving too much information
    • So David Rule suggested I should listen to the interview that I conducted with my Dad to see if one of us said something like “He used to pick up rocks”
    • It’s a bit more poetic isn’t it, and a lot less literal – I like that
    • When he told me that, I thought it was a good idea and I just need to listen through the interview again and pick out the right quotes
    • You’ve been given very good advice, so just follow it
  • One last thing, I was thinking about using ambient noise within the exhibition?
    • No – don’t overcomplicate it because it’s going to work as it is; keep it simple!
Artist Statement with Caroline's Feedback

My Artist Statement (with Caroline’s Feedback)

 

 

Key Points to take away from today:

  • I need to carefully consider what the collected object is actually bringing to the project – does it have a meaning and brings something more that the image can’t do, or is it just something extra?
    • I also need to carefully consider the preconceived connotations about pairing an object with an image – there is a conceptual concern that the photograph isn’t enough, so an object is used to provide evidence and truth
  • I should try not to be too literal in the inclusion or choice of different aspects (such as the collected materials and the title) – I should leave space for the viewers imagination
  • I shouldn’t worry about being too formulaic throughout my project – I need to try and free myself from the strategy (for example, choose pictures that are aesthetically pleasing, even if they don’t hold the same “middle-of-the-road” aesthetic), and let the work create it’s own structure
  • I should also consider treating each location differently – they don’t all need to be in a triptych/diptych
  • In relation to text, I need to remain truthful to the project and choose what I think best represents it’s concept – I shouldn’t construct the text too much
    • I should try and talk about things that the photograph cant do (for example, sound and temperature)
    • I should also experiment with shafting the tense of the text, and in stead of talking in the present tense, look back into the past – this is something else that a photograph can’t really do
  • For the title of the piece, I should listen to the interview that I had with my Dad an choose a quote that briefly discusses the man, the fact that he is no longer around, and something associated with the landscape
  • I should also consider showing more than one location within the exhibition (if I can), as a big part of the project is this effort to find my memories, or that sense of being with my Grandpa, and this tends to happen over visiting a few locations rather than just one
  • For the artist statement, although it is all there and simply needs reorganizing, it should be in the third person to enhance it’s professionalism
  • I should also consider removing the idea of using ambient audio within the exhibition – I don’t want to overcomplicate it as it
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