PHO704 WIPP Peer Feedback

Figure 1: Phil Hill (September, November, 2020) Initial Work in Progress development

Figure 2: Phil Hill (September – November, 2020) Initial Work in Progress Portfolio development – PDF.

I have asked my peer group to give some feedback on my current iteration of my work in progress portfolio (Fig 1&2).

What I have found is that I am still trying to explain and add as much information as I can into the justification of the work. As a result, both Tim and Ross struggled with the ‘Journey’ concept in my work because I led with this explanation, which might have suggested that this is what the work is about when in fact the journey narrative is just the frame. Colin had suggested to me that I construct my story structure and then disregard it for the presentation, or at least keep it to myself. The structure is mine to disseminate as appropriate. Clearly, there are challenges to giving too many of the ‘secrets’ of my narrative construction away. This was supported somewhat, when I shared the same work with Kim and one of my work colleagues Ryan. I kept my justification very simple by stating: the work was inspired by the poem ‘Desert Places’ and an exploration of connection to place. Both of them were much more receptive to the work. My aim is to really consider the statement of intent for the work and see how it adds to the reading of the work, whilst supporting what I want others to see in it.

Ross Feedback

It’s tricky as I’m not familiar with the classic journey system for it. I think if that is important for you then you have to stick with it but I think there’s a better edit in there purely aesthetically if you were to mix the images in a different way. I think if they were all landscape format I would get almost a film still and maybe connect that in an easier way to the idea of the story. I find the mix of landscape and portrait more confusing if I am trying to think about it in that form but it’s the first time I’ve looked.

I am less drawn to the abstract images and the close up images personally. I prefer the more formal images that you create where there is a clear structure to either the portrait of the image of the object, tree, car, wall etc. I like that more topographic approach in your work.

I think the link to paths throughout do suggest at a journey but I find some of the images a bit confusing. The opening image is the only image taken inside, or I think it’s inside? The image of the hand with flower, although I really like it, seems out of place as well. I’m less drawn to the images where you are looking down as well as like I Said, I think your work is really strong when it has a formal gaze.

  • I attempted to justify the Journey structure first, which has created a challenge to the reading as Ross is attempting to resolve the sequence solely on this piece if information. This is quite valuable in the way that I will need to approach the statement of intent for the body of work.
  • I agree with Ross on The image of my Dad holding the Dandelion (Fig: 3). When showing the sequence to Colin he felt the same. I really enjoy this image but it does feel out of place in this sequence. I was keen to hang on to it because of the reference across Edgelands (Farley & Symmonds Roberts, 2011, p. 141) and one of the metaphors in ‘Desert Places’ (Frost, 1936, p. 44) however, the image is clearly aesthetically different to the rest of the sequence.
  • Ross did also mention that I might want to consider taking an image from each section and building it up, which is something that I might consider moving forward.
Figure 3: Phil Hill (September, 2020) Dad holding Dandelions
Tim Feedback

I have more questions than answers when looking at this.

  • This comment is actually great. Exactly what I want from my sequence. Using the journey structure I hope that the sequence encourages the reader to explore and investigate. I am not aiming to answer anything with the work, only present a narrative version, or ‘truth.’

Presented in this way, I do struggle a bit to take it all in. The individual images are great, really strong, but the question is it’s about how it all comes together.

Your first image, the one of the looking through the window, of me is the standout image. And great that it sets us off on a journey of the hero. Through the piece we meet experience the various encounters, and people who aid or distract the hero on the journey. But are they a distraction, to our own experience of what the hero is going through.

I like how you have structured the narrative in the screen shot, through the phrases. The ‘Call to Action’ etc., as I then can see more of what you are trying to achieve and how you have thought about it.

The questions that pop into my mind are:

Too many different sizes to the images – does this lessen their impact

What if you removed 90% of the portraits. What would you feel

The ‘Goal’ completes the journey started out by the first image

Is the ‘Journey’ happening too soon. Are we not going out from urban into countryside as the goal.

This has made me think that there are images of ‘paths’ and that there are images where the path is ‘blocked’ and therefore our journey through the piece is about us, through the hero, finding a path from inside to outside, and the goal.

  • As with Ross, I went to a great length in explaining the way that I structured the sequence. This is a clear identification of the need to withhold some information from the reader to illicit a more receptive response from the work. For Tim, I even presented him with the structure infographic (Fig: 4), which then feels as though took over from other aspect of what I am aiming to do with this work.
  • There is some work to do on the structure as some of the images in the different sections may not be working. If both Ross and Tim are saying similar things here then it is important not to dismiss the feedback because of the way that I described it – this is only part of what I need to resolve here.
Figure 4: Phil Hill (November, 2020) WIPP compared to narrative ‘journey’ structure.
Colin Feedback

Colin was responsive to the way that I have created my first sequence. There are clearly areas that need development and I am continuing to work with the series on my wall to make adjustments and edits to the work. A key area to consider from my tutorial was to continue working on the narrative to narrow it down a bit more – Think of a direction and build it into the narrative.

Narrative Developments

I consider the journey story as a frame and not necessarily to be followed in the strictest sense as it may lead to quite a ‘closed’ linear sequence that leaves little room for ambiguity and multiple reading. This felt confirmed by me aiming to justify my WIPP iteration by explaining this structure process. I am also not aiming to answer any questions with this work – raising some, more likely. I like a level of ambiguity in the work as it acknowledges that the reading of the work is not mine to control, I only aim to lead the reader on a poetic journey through the landscape.

Referring to the journey structure, the idea of defined elements of the structure, for example ‘the call,’ the helpers,’ ‘the hero’s companions’ do not necessarily relate to the embodiment of a lead character or person at all. These can be an idea, or particular imagery that suggests a means of viewing the narrative. Christopher Booker suggests as much when discussing the idea of ‘Overcoming the Monster’ (2004, pp. 31-50), in which stories will create language to paint a picture of “immense menace and evil” (p. 37) over actual embodiments of what we might consider a monster. The same can be said for any of the structural elements that I am applying to my sequence. Instead they should be represented by a visual language that I create through the edit of the work.

If I were to be pressed on the idea of a protagonist however, this is potentially a story told in the first person, in which the viewer becomes the person journeying through the landscape. Ultimately, I am going to use Colin’s suggestion and build this up using the structure and the trope and then remove it to the bare minimum so that the reader is required to look for it. Of course, when questioned about the work, I can build up the picture of the narrative once again.

Bibliography

Booker, C., 2004. The Seven Basic Plots. London: Bloomsbury Continuum.

Farley, P. & Symmonds Roberts, M., 2011. Edgelands – Journeys into England’s true Wilderness. London: Vintage.

Frost, R., 1936. A Further Range. Transcribed eBook ed. s.l.:Proofreaders Canada.

PH0704 – Oral Presentation: Developments

Figure 1: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Oral Presentation 1st Draft.

Figure 2: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Oral Presentation Version 1 script

I went ahead and started the oral presentation and for some reason thought it was still 10 minutes. I completely missed the part of the brief that said this was needing to be seven minutes. A lesson in carefully reading the brief, which is something that incidentally I tell the students that I teach constantly. However, I have found this in good time and was able to revisit my original supporting script and presentation and even though I have had to cut 3 minutes of discussion from it, I actually think it is better as a result. Some of the topics that I was aiming to cover were done so quickly, which is also reminiscent of the feedback I received for my written work from Source magazine. I tend to try and crowbar a lot into my work, which is to the detriment of overall quality. The 7 minute version is becoming much more concise and also a bit more refined.

I would have liked to discuss some of the topics omitted however I can expand on these through my blog, which is probably a better place for these discussions.

Reflection – Project development

After speaking with Colin, I was pleased that the progress I am making with the edit of my work. Key to its success has to be in the way that I am applying narrative structure. I have tended to ignore its potential previously and unsure of how it could apply to a photographic series. However, I have discovered that it is a really valuable tool in the sequencing of my work, which I have always struggled with. The way that the ‘journey story’ narrative creates a kind of fantasy world also really resonates with the way that others have viewed my work. Michelle in the first module even stated as much in how my work highlights a kind of fantasy element to the subjects that I am photographing. Colin has also previously stated that some of my images have an idealised romanticism to them. What the journey narrative allows is a way of bringing these areas of strength in my work together in a cohesive way. I now realise that the success of my FMP will depend on the way that I eventually sequence using more narrative tropes and tools.

Work to do

Figure 1: Phil Hill (September, 2020) Dad holding Dandelions

I am far from done. There are some images in the present sequence that I am unsure actually work within the narrative. Potential to slim down the current set. For example, the image of my dad holding the dandelions (Fig: 1) is quite disparate to the rest of the sequence and may need to be taken out. I also need to continue looking at the journey and seeing how this can be reflected in the sequence.

I also feel the need to return to earlier research and see how this is reflected in my current work. I started the module looking at the idea of inanimate agency, informed by the idea of Object Orientated ontology. This is how to consider the way that the landscape and places impact on the people, over how we place a bigger value on human interpretation of objects. For example, Graham Harmon notes Edmund Husserl’s discussion of ‘Two Berlins’: “how can there be two Berlins, one of them a content inside the mind and the other and object outside it? In that case, there would be no way for the two Berlins ever to come into contact, and knowledge of Berlin would not be possible” (2020, p. 15). This is what photography does, effectively creating a third ‘Berlin’ – or in my case, Watford – bearing no relation to the concrete actualities that were in front of the camera at the time of the photograph. I spent a great deal of time researching this as an impact that the photograph has on the way that we remember and how the qualities of the medium of photography have an effect on the way it is read contributing to a nostalgia. Narrative structures feel like a natural progression for my work to further the construction of my own making. This has been one of the most revelatory progressions made during this module and as above, a key element to take forward into my FMP.

Figure 2: Phil Hill (November, 2020) WIPP test viewed in Adobe Acrobat Reader
Figure 3: Phil Hill (November, 2020) WIPP test viewed in Google Chrome browser

Presentation At the moment the first iteration of my WIPP was created as a PDF in a series of 4, 10 page spreads. I have found there are limitations to this and need to work towards a better display of the work. InDesign limits the amount of pages in a spread and also the presentation varies depending on the way it is viewed through a program, such as Acrobat versus viewing the PDF in a browser (Fig: 2 & 3). I am aiming for the work to be seen in a linear way, so it might be better to display the work using my website where I can better control the experience. That being said, there is also a need to acknowledge the need to some flexibility and relinquish control to the reader – they will inevitably construct their own narrative.

Bibliography

Harmon, G., 2020. Art and Objects. 1st Paperback ed. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Initial Sequence

Figure 1: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Editing process – initial stages

After placing all of the work on a wall in my house, I found it quite useful to start creating sequencing and pairings of images that work well together (Fig: 1).

Figure 2: Ed Ruscha (1966) Every Building on Sunset Strip book

As the sequence for submission is going to be in the form of the journey narrative, I am keen to have it viewed in a linear way, so have place the work left to right in what could work as an accordion style fold out book. In a similar way to how Ed Rucha’s ‘Every Building on Sunset Strip’ (Fig: 2). I am going to attempt to experiment with this in print form to see how it might work as a physical publication and consider the ways that I might apply the technique later for my FMP. However, I feel that for the WIPP submission, I will possibly resort to creating this digitally to emphasise the reflection and development of my approach to images making.

Narrative Structure breakdown

Figure 3: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Initial sequence using Journey Story Narrative structure

The images in this initial sequence have been placed into the sections of the Christopher Booker’s journey narrative structure (Fig: 3). I have also aimed to take into consideration the metaphor presented in ‘Desert Places’ (Frost, 1936) and how the town shifts between rural and urban.

The Call
Figure 4: Phil Hill (November, 2020) View through kitchen window.

This begins at home (Fig: 4), Frost’s idea of identity and safety. I have used windows before in my submission for informing contexts. During the height of the first lockdown, there was a sense of everything being ‘radioactive,’ yet the home was a sanctuary away from this. The window creates a boundary in which to view this hostile world whilst remaining somewhat protected. There is a sense of wonder by having a viewpoint through the window, low and toward the sky that means the viewer id still curious and intends to want to investigate it.

Figure 5: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Carbenders Park, Watford.

The tree in the houses (Fig: 5) is a link to the rurality that exists all around. Nature existing within the urban environment and the many overlapping elements. This tree, obviously established is potentially older than the housing estate that surrounds it. Perhaps there were many more like it.

Figure 6: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Fire Station, Watford

A more typical sight of Watford and to contrast the tree is the side of the fire station that flanks on of the older pathways cutting through the town (Fig: 6). It’s brick structure showing a level of built up urban environment that exists here.

Figure 7: Phil Hill (October, 2020) St Thomas Church – Disused
Figure 8: Phil Hill (October, 2020) Ryan

An early pairing for this module is the images of the Church and Ryan (Fig: 7&8). Religion has quite a presence in Watford with many bases for churches here. The symbolism of the boarded up church is an interesting one in terms of the narrative, suggesting that there is a need to seek faith or truth. I paired this image with the portrait of Ryan, owing to his tattoo on his arm of silhouetted figures with outstretched arms, or in the crucified position,[1] which could represent another break of faith. I am not aiming to paint an over picture of religion here however, the symbol comes with preconceived notions of faith, truth, identity that feed into the narrative here.

Figure 9: Phil Hill (September, 2020) Brick wall remains near M25

The bricks and the railing are also from the edgelands and make a good reference to the idea of rurality (Weisheit, et al., 1995). In terms of ‘the call’ there is a sense of a breakaway or move away from the present existence.

The Hero’s Companions
Figure 10: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Mark
Figure 11: Phil Hill (October, 2020) Cephas

Here I felt was an opportunity to include some of my portraits. Mark, who is a volunteer at the food bank across the road from my house (Fig: 10), and Cephas who is the caretaker at the school where my wife works (Fig: 11). It is useful to remember that in a journey narrative, the idea of a hero’s companion is to show that the protagonist of the story is not alone in the journey so it is worth acknowledging that within my own community there are people who support it.

The Helpers
Figure 12: Phil Hill (September, 2020) Mum
Figure 13: Phil Hill (September, 2020) Dad holding Dandelions

Here are two images of my parents (Fig: 12). I have included these as a way of considering the idea of connection. The hand holding the dandelions, or weeds is my dad (Fig: 13). In Frost’s poem, weeds are the ‘primitive thing without trace of man’ (Wang, 2013: 2094) and dandelions are also referenced in edgelands: “earth inheriting dandelions might also make their presence felt” (Farley & Symmonds Roberts, 2011: 140). I quite like the connection made between the weeds considered without trace being held by a person. Within the journey story it becomes a parting gesture before the start of the journey and how to regain the connection between people and place.

The Journey
Figure 14: Phil Hill (September, 2020) Pathway running alongside the M25 motorway
Figure 15: Phil Hill (September, 2020) Whippendale Woods
Figure 16: Phil Hill (October, 2020) Broken Tree Swing, Bushey Country Park
Figure 17: Phil Hill (October, 2020) Den, Bushey Country Park

The body of the narrative I have sequenced is the journey itself. Starting with a pathway that leads into the journey (Fig: 14), I have included a sequence of the more rural part of the town which is the main part of my own exploration. Referring to Frost’s metaphor of the woods being the people and the society I sequenced my images to show an upturned tree showing its roots, symbolising disruption (Fig: 15). A broken tree swing (Fig: 16), showing more of a trace of people, and a built den within the woods (Fig: 17), which is another trace and also referenced within ‘edgelands,’ (2011: 41). There is a sense of the shelter and potential to re-build in the sense of finding identity and connection to the place.

Figure 18: Phil Hill (October, 2020) Alistair

I also placed a portrait of Alistair, the fly fisherman holding a Rainbow Trout (Fig: 18). Alistair, come to fish to escape the everyday stresses of life and the fishing can also denote a perseverance to continue on the journey. This image I paired with the tree and the house, which is in the same location providing some context and also linking back to the idea of rurality of nature and urban elements. The image if the trolley on the pathway, which is another reference to a journey.

Figure 19: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Izzy, Callowland Allotment.

I also included another portrait at the end of Izzy in an allotment (Fig: 19), which is another reference to ‘edgelands’ that suggests that allotments are more of a political tool over a beloved pastime of self-sufficiency, noting: “Allotments have been used as a sop to the dispossessed for centuries. The General Enclosure Act OF 1845 took 615,000 acres from the poor and gave them 2,200 acres of allotments in return, just because we love and value allotments should not stop us from seeing that they also represent paternalistic tokenism” (2011: 108).

What I aimed to show with the journey is much more of the pastoral elements suggested by descriptions of Hertfordshire that tend to overlook Watford (Else, et al., 2003: 250). There is a great deal of rural beauty however there are still problematic elements to consider, such as the subtle political tension in the perception of a benign allotment, for example. Or in how a community so tied to the identity of commuting how been uprooted (represented by the tree and the people and society metaphor present in Frost’s ‘Desert Places’) and trying to rebuild (the den). With the fisherman and the person within the allotment there is another opportunity to show the connection to the land and people and this represents a kind of discovery within the journey.

Arrival and Frustration
Figure 20: Phil Hill (November, 2020) North Watford Playing Field

After the journey comes some obstacles to overcome, which was my aim to show here. In ‘Desert Places’ Frost writes: “In a Field, I looked into going past” (1936) and Li Wang suggests the field represents nature, therefore in my sequence it is a way of acknowledging a return to the more urban parts of the town (Fig: 20).

Figure 21: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Obscured Billboard
Figure 22: Phil Hill (October, 2020) Damaged car.

The frustration then, might be a return to the existing environment of Watford, which is built up and overlooked, supported by my selection of the covered billboard (Fig: 21). The crashed car is a way of creating a visual stop, much like what happened to the car itself (Fig: 22). Frustration is evident in the damage done to the car. I also wonder what happened to force the car to stop so suddenly and whatever crashed into the back of it to keep going. The momentum of the narrative has halted in order to confront the next stage of the narrative.

Final Ordeals
Figure 23: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Tom
Figure 24: Phil Hill (October, 2020) Bag of Shredded paper.

Firmly back in the built up areas this section is about confronting those elements. The portrait of Tom (Fig: 23) in mirrors the portrait of Ryan (Fig: 8) to show a return to near the beginning. The bag if shredded paper suggests an unburdening or casting out of items not needed any longer (Fig: 24). There is also an idea of confusion associated with a bag of shredded documents and a curiosity of what they might have been.

Figure 25: Phil Hill (October, 2020) Buddleia bush blocking a pathway
Figure 26: Phil Hill (October, 2020) Roadside memorial.

The image of the Buddleia is blocking a pathway (Fig: 25) yet in edgelands its resilience is associated with hope in the sense that even in a wasteland (2011: 137), they are able to propagate. Phil Barker notes “The experience of being human is intangible. As a result, descriptions of human experience rely heavily on metaphor to convey something of that whole lived experience” (2000: 97) and I have also placed an image of a roadside memorial, which on the surface denotes a death in that location but also death can be considered as a new beginning.

The Goal
Figure 27: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Jess and Darcie

Back to nature. The portrait here is of my wife and daughter (Fig: 27) so there is a sense of personal connection this image. The goal of the series is to find a connection to place therefore the journey narrative is designed to move through all of the ups and downs felt by living in a place that I initially felt no connection but am since starting to make my peace with it.


[1] Which is incidentally from the cover of a Muse album created by Storm Thorgesson who utilises symbolism for many of his most successful covers.

Bibliography

Barker, P., 2000. Working with the metaphor of life and Death. Med Ethics: Medical Humanities, 26(2), pp. 97-102.

Else, D. et al., 2003. Lonely Planet: Britain. 5 ed. Footscray: Lonely Planet Publications.

Farley, P. & Symmonds Roberts, M., 2011. Edgelands – Journeys into England’s true Wilderness. London: Vintage.

Frost, R., 1936. A Further Range. Transcribed eBook ed. s.l.:Proofreaders Canada.

Wang, L., 2013. An Artistic Analysis on Robert Frost’s Desert Places. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(11), pp. 2092-2097.

Weisheit, D. R. A., Wells, D. L. E. & Falcone, D. D. N., 1995. Crime and Policing in Rural and Small Town America: An overview of the issues, s.l.: National Institute of Justice.

Journey Narrative – Project development

Now that I have placed all of my images on the wall, I have started to look at how they fit into the metaphors of Robert Frost’s ‘Desert Places’ (1936). I quite enjoy the connections forming between the idea of edgelands and a kind of freedom in the detritus that exists there and the way that Frost paints a picture of someone needing to come to terms with themselves and the land.

There are a number of images that fit well into Desert Places metaphor: The open spaces, the weeds & overgrown plants (primitive without trace of people), Stubble in the field (the traces of people), home (Safety and one’s own identity), and the woods (people and society), which fit quite well with the images that I have been producing (Wang, 2013, p. 2094). The poem as a whole has proved to be really beneficial in the way that I select my images for the WIPP. This of course is an ongoing process and once I start to form a more solid narrative I will look at the images that I have identified and see if there are any refinements to make.

Structuring the narrative

With the initial images identified, I am aiming to continue working with the idea of the journey story. Initially, I have been looking at the hero’s journey however, I am thinking that it would be beneficial not to place to rigid of a structure by sticking to each of the 12 steps outlined by Joseph Cambell. I will use a version of this to start thinking about where the images might be placed in a linear way  – or perhaps even considering it part of a loop, as the hero’s journey suggests.

Christopher Booker suggests a structure to the journey story (2004), much like the hero’s journey:

  • The call (to action)
  • The hero’s companions
  • The journey
  • The helpers
  • Arrival and frustration
  • Final ordeals
  • The goal

My intention is to apply the above to the sequence of my images. I will also aim to highlight the metaphor found in Robert Frost’s poem along the way and reference to idea of rurality and edgelands in the way that the countryside and urban elements ebb and flow throughout the work.

Constructed narrative – contrived?

Although I have started to apply the journey structure to the work, there are no real traditional plot elements so to speak. My narrative is to be subtle and will loosely follow this structure, which is contrived and constructed. This is a further departure from the way that I have always thought of photography and is developing into a much stronger approach to the sequence. And this has been valuable, as previously I had based this primarily on aesthetic choices, which is quite subjective.

My aim is that my next WIPP will have a more refined narrative that connects the people and the places through the metaphor and idea that I have been exploring. It will of course still be subjective and ultimately, I still have little control on the reading of the work – if any. This will provide a good starting point as I move into the FMP to test whether I have been able to communicate my ideas more effectively than my last submission, and identify how to apply this to my final project work.

Bibliogrpahy

Booker, C., 2004. The Seven Basic Plots. London: Bloomsbury Continuum.

Frost, R., 1936. A Further Range. Transcribed eBook ed. s.l.:Proofreaders Canada.

Wang, L., 2013. An Artistic Analysis on Robert Frost’s Desert Places. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(11), pp. 2092-2097.

Grants and Funding continued

Continuing to look at ways of funding my work, I have made an application to the Carmencita film lab and Kodak grant (Fig: 1), which provides up 50 rolls of film together with processing and scanning.

I was particularly drawn to this grant as the timeframe would give me the opportunity to gain valuable resources to support my FMP. Although, I would consider this still in the development stages, I have also found it quite useful to consider my ideas for FMP and create a proposal based on this and it will inform the FMP proposal that we will be asked to create.

Figure 1: Phil Hill (November, 2020) Carmencita/Kodak Grant application

Oxfam A updates 12/11

Figure 1: Phil Hill (November, 2020) One Tree app mock-up walk through

Continuing to develop this idea in preparation for the upcoming presentation, I have created a mock-up of the ‘One Tree’ app that shows some of the basic functions (Fig: 1 & 2). Throughout this process we have been keeping a collaborative document for notes and research, which I have found an invaluable method on working on a project, especially when we are all remote (Fig: 3).

Figure 3: Phil Hill Et al (October – November, 2020) Live Brief collaborative team notes and research document

The app has been quite a departure from the photography that I am sure was to be expected for this live brief however, when we were putting together ideas for the brief and raising awareness of the global carbon impact of social media, it was quickly realised that this kind of campaign would effectively contribute to the problem so we felt it important to create some kind of solution. That being said, an app would also contribute to the problem but it also provides the tools to both raise awareness and also contribute to the solution. The information provided by such an app would support informed choices about how we are individually impacting the environment. We also consider that social media and social interactions are also a new kind of ‘everybody street’ that we might use to interact with others even more so than one’s own neighbors.

Project Development, Reflections, Narrative ideas

Figure 1: Phil Hill (October – November, 2020) Research project images for webinar and tutorial.

I have been aiming to continue photographing with a focus on how the landscape images are linking to my portraits. I decided to use this as my point of discussion during the peer webinar and see how the images are being read and also potential ways to take this idea forward (Fig: 1).

During my tutorial with Colin he noted that my images had a sense of the idealistic and romantic about them, which is something that I am keen to pursue. He also noted that I should continue to experiment as I am not quite there yet with how the work is coming across. This is where I started to look at the idea of ‘Edgelands’ (Farley & Symmonds Roberts, 2011) to see if there was a way that I could create better links however, I am still unsure if this is successful.

How I see this developing is through the narrative of the work is in the need to spend some time working on sequencing and my edit; overlooked for the sake of shooting more up until now. Colin essentially said the same as I need a structure in which the project can rest. Furthermore, I should create a narrative for the series even if, as Colin noted, ‘that narrative is wrong.’ This was something that came up again during the peer webinar, where Mike also noted that I should construct a story for the sequence, even if it is a made up.

Narrative ideas

Paper Movies

I like the idea of a constructed narrative utilising the images that I have already created. This is something that Todd Hido advocates, referring to the process as ‘Paper Movies’ (2014, p. 114), where he advocates that “The book can lead you to synthesize ideas and can become your permanent record of a body of work. When you pick up a book, you expect something from it. It has structure: a beginning, a middle, an end” (p. 114). I have previously been quite critical of photo books, owing to their limited audience of single demographics, which is supported by Simon Norfolk’s assertion that they only have appeal within the bubble of photography and is detrimental to the dissemination of that work (2019). However, perhaps I need to re-evaluate my position on this to use the photobook as a tool to create an effective narrative. Once this is resolves, it could provide a launch pad onto other ways to disseminate the work; and this is key to the way that I view the photobook.

In terms of how to approach my sequencing, Hido also notes: “I find it really helpful to work with pictures on paper, little printouts that you can move around on a table or on a wall. I’ve never found a fabulous pairing or a great sequence on a computer screen” (p. 114). I have been told this a few times during the MA, Michelle Sank is a big proponent of ‘living with the work’ for a while. This is something that I have attempted at various stages, however not really left those up for any length of time that could be consider valuable. During the last lockdown, it was also a challenge to print images so I had to become reliant on the screen. Perhaps, this is an area that could create value in the sequence and ultimate narrative of the work, so my intention is to fully ‘live’ with the images and see how they start to form, as Hido notes: “And then all of a sudden you have these chains of pictures that start to show the shape and structure of the story” (p. 114).

Rhythm

One other point that Hido makes with regard to the sequencing of his work is to think about music: “There may be motifs that appear and repeat themselves in different iterations in a long sequence. You can create a rhythm by being consistent from image to image and by paying attention to how the image hang together” (p. 114). Colin also made a similar observation during my tutorial when talking about the rhythm of a good photography book. How to relate this to the sequencing of my work, I am unsure however, feel that once the images are placed on a wall, this is something that will be important to consider.

Journey Narrative

One element that I use in teaching media, is the development of a strong set of defined characteristics that help form a visual image of a character within that story. This also includes the environment, as understanding the characteristics of the world in which a character inhabits will help to understand the way that the character will react to situations and events within that world.

Figure 2: Joseph Campbell (1949) Graphic depicting the ‘hero’s journey’ as studied by Campbell.

There is also the ‘hero’s journey,’ which although is potentially a cliché, could be a useful way to sequence the work and does lend itself very well to narrative construction and mythologies. There are different interpretations of this and the language used for each stage is hackneyed, yet the ideas that they present could be useful and present a method of creating a structured approach to sequencing (Fig: 2).

Additionally, my constructed narrative could also refer to Vladimir Propp’s character theory, which argues that stories are character driven and are the most important draw for audiences (Sampson, 2015) – useful to consider when placing my portraiture into the sequence.

Desert Places – Robert Frost
Figure 3: Robert Frost (1936, p. 44) Desert Places Poem

Earlier in the MA, I briefly looked at the poem of ‘Desert Places’ by Robert Frost (Fig: 3) after reading an analysis of Roland Barthes’ essays ‘How to Live Together’ (2012). It’s not something that I felt really worked at that point of the project however, I am keen to return to it and see if there is any way that it could relate to the work that I am making now.

The poem refers to a person travelling through the countryside on a winter evening who is overcome by feelings of loneliness (Wang, 2013). Li Wang creates a detailed analysis of the poem, referring to the metaphors it creates:

  1. Desert Places. It is the man’s moral and spiritual wildernesses.
  2. Field. It represents nature.
  3. Weed. It is the primitive things without trace of the man.
  4. Stubble. It’s the trace of the man’s presence.
  5. Woods. They are the people and society
  6. Whiteness. Open and empty spaces
  7. Snow. A white blanket that covers everything living.
  8. Blanker. Representing the emptiness that the speaker feels.
  9. Home. It is a place that man can feel safety and finds his own identity there

(Wang, 2013, p. 2094)

Figure 4: Bryan Schutmaat (2019) from ‘Good Goddamn’

Wang suggests that Frost is creating a personification of the landscape and people are essentially in the shadow of nature (2013, p. 2095), which is quite similar to the way that Bryan Schutmaat does the same in his work ‘Good Goddamn’ that gives a real sense of the landscape’s impact on the character awaiting incarceration (Fig: 4). We know very little of the detail of this character other than he is about to go to jail and the journey created by his interaction with the land creates a striking narrative to this series. Wang suggests that the underlying meaning of Frost’s poem is in the realization to the narrator that they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things however, Wang notes:

“If he does not want to live in the world meaninglessly like the nature, he should not have shut himself off to the world and let feelings as loneliness and coldness… run his life”

(p. 2096).

There are links that can be made to the themes and metaphor, which Frost creates. I especially resonate with the idea of the desert place being a moral and spiritual wilderness and how the woods represent people and society. Linking this to the idea of edgelands and rurality, there is potential scope to start creating characters from my existing portraits and also a character out of the land that is acting on them.

There are also links to be drawn to Barthes’ idea of how we exist in the same places but also separately, according to our own individual rhythm – or idiorythmically (2012, p. 132). I have equated Watford to a kind of edgeland town and during the last lockdown, I also felt that Barthes’ idiorythm reflected a general way society needed to remain separate. However, Frost’s Desert Places could be a more apt analogy and I will see how I can create a sequence around some of the themes here – especially as we are now in a new lockdown.

I am going to now focus on sequencing and seeing how my images are working together. The I can identify areas that need additional imagery or work to refine in other areas.

Bibliography

Barthes, R., 2012. How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of some Everyday Spaces. Translation ed. New York: Columbia University Press.

Farley, P. & Symmonds Roberts, M., 2011. Edgelands – Journeys into England’s true Wilderness. London: Vintage.

Frost, R., 1936. A Further Range. Transcribed eBook ed. s.l.:Proofreaders Canada.

Hido, T., 2014. Todd Hido on Landscapes, Interiors, and the Nude. New York: Aperture.

Norfolk, S., 2019. A Small Voice: Conversations with Photographers [Interview] (12 June 2019).

Sampson, R., 2015. Debate: Propp’s Character Conventions In Modern Film. [Online]
Available at: https://www.filminquiry.com/character-conventions-propp/
[Accessed 06 November 2020].

Wang, L., 2013. An Artistic Analysis on Robert Frost’s Desert Places. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(11), pp. 2092-2097.

Professional Practice Developments

With the aim of developing my professional practice, and after the content from week 7, I have started to consider ways that I can improve the way that I am sending my work out to potential publishers, editors etc.

Key Takeaways from the presentation
  • Embedding images into email: Makes great deal of sense as editors will receive many emails per day, so reducing the amount of work it takes to get to those images is fundamental to getting my work seen
  • Portfolio: Having a physical portfolio is important as many people who see digital work all day appreciate the tangible qualities of print. What I personally like about a physical portfolio (a box of prints anyway) is the way that it allows the viewer to arrange and sequence work as they see fit, which allows a much more personal viewing experience. I have a box and sleeves, but have not updated the images within it. Something that I aim to update soon. The only caveat or course is the limit to face-to-face meetings that are happening now however, there is still potential to send portfolios for review if this is preferred.
  • Treatment: Not something that I have truly considered however, there is much potential to create a ‘treatment’ that highlights my unique visual language when writing proposals, for example.
  • Language: During the presentation Amy Simmons mentioned how using the language that is in a brief when creating responses and treatments. Something that I feel that I have been aware of but not sure, if I really capitalise on it. Considering this, I think it would be useful apply this tip when grant writing, which would really show consideration for their values. It would also be useful when writing pitches to publishers.

Much of the content within the presentation, I already knew, or at least was reminded of from my former practice as a freelancer. I have not been applying much of the tips to my recent sharing of the work, which linked to the amount of time that I used to do this regularly. The presentation was an important reminder to ensure that I am following some of the more effective ways of getting work in front of potential clients.

Keeping things a secret

Many of the photographer interviews that I listen to refer to certain projects and work, which is under wraps for the time being, or secretive until they are published. During Anna’s live lecture, she also mentioned that publications such as the New York Times would not publish anything that has already appeared on Instagram or personal websites. I have been quite keen to place everything that I have been photographing online, yet this could actually be detrimental to the success if my work – especially as I would also include a link to my website. My audience online is modest however, making the work freely available for public consumption would have an undermining impact on its monetary value, for both publishers and myself; whether or not my copyright is respected. Instead, it would be beneficial to share bodies of work after I have explored other avenues. This would retain its exclusivity and potentially monetary value. Ultimately, the work will end up online; it is just a question of timing.

On this note, I am going to pause the sharing of my work on Instagram and instead present it to potential clients in the first instance. I am also going to archive some of the images that I have shared recently to support the re-packaging and sharing of my carnival work and see how this affects its potential for publication.

Bibliography

Simmons, A., 2017. Week 7: Commercial Commissions with Amy Simmons, Falmouth: Falmouth University.