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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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:
Desert Places. It is the man’s moral and spiritual wildernesses.
Field. It represents nature.
Weed. It is the primitive things without trace of the man.
Stubble. It’s the trace of the man’s presence.
Woods. They are the people and society
Whiteness. Open and empty spaces
Snow. A white blanket that covers everything living.
Blanker. Representing the emptiness that the speaker feels.
Home. It is a place that man can feel safety and finds his own identity there
(Wang, 2013, p. 2094)
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”
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.
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.
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.
Simmons, A., 2017. Week 7: Commercial Commissions with Amy Simmons, Falmouth: Falmouth University.
I have been reflecting on ways to utilise and market my work for publication. This is to extend the reflection that I started when gathering feedback on the previous story posts (Fig: 1 & 2). In doing so, I have come back to the work that I produced for the first module to create some new sequences and consider the different ways the images might be read.
After the previous week’s forum and some of the feedback I received, I also do not want to try and explain away the images and see how they might be forming the narrative themselves (Fig: 3):
We have collectively decided to push forward with the idea of an app, which builds on whet that group pitched last year. However, our app is designed to highlight the impact of that the internet has on the environment.
The app would primarily be a widget that highlights the amount of carbon produced by an individual and then provides a series of tools to offset this.
We felt that this very much fulfils the brief set by Oxfam as this impacts everyone who uses the internet and in particular smartphones. These ubiquitous devices are fundamental to the way that we live so it is important that the correct information is provided to highlight that it has an impact too.
My role in the group has been to start putting together some graphics and mock ups of what a potential app and widget might look like (Fig: 1 & 2).
As it stands, the app doesn’t have much to do with photography. However, there are opportunities to include tools that consider the impact that photography has on the world, in terms of its carbon footprint. For example, Tom suggested that we might include some kind of digital clean up where you could delete any unused images that are perpetually stored on a server somewhere, using power.
For this week’s task, I wanted to start testing some ideas in the way that I am developing my sequencing and placement of images together. As I have started to look at the idea of ‘edgelands’ in support of my research into rurality, I also thought it would be good to see how this might be coming through in the reading of my images.
These images are an exploration of the commuter town of Watford, between city and countryside and could be considered one of these ‘edgelands.’ Where does the countryside stop and the urban begin?
Having woken up in a drunken stupor in Stanmore on many occasions there is definitely the fray between city and country. I don’t think you necessarily have to answer the question through your work, but raise the question to the audience and offer some answers. The lady and the flower pair well, have you tried the tree stump and the lady before?
Are there any constructions developing right on the edge of any woodland areas/ views of development?
I believe this is the first time that Jonjo would have seen any of my work, owing to the mix of cohorts, so his feedback on my work is quite valuable, having no prior knowledge of the kinds of images that I am making. I was wondering myself whether to provide too much detail in the description of the post as the images themselves should be enough to carry the narrative however, it is a useful note from Jonjo about the need to answer any of the questions. His work posted to this discussion was actually left with little comment to go on in the reading and I also have not seen his work to know his intentions. I quite liked the ambiguity in the sequence, which also provided some snippets into a narrative. Perhaps I don’t need to try and explain away my images; the ambiguity in the reading may actually be a positive to the work. I am still looking at all aspects of edgelands and the idea of construction or development could be quite a good one to explore in the way that the boundary of the edges are always in flux.
Works really well mate, I especially like the the non human images in this one. I think they have really come along. The image with the layers of brick and concrete that have broken down is really suggestive for me. They are bit more contrasty this time as well I noticed which I also like.
Ross is familiar with my work so it is valuable from a developmental perspective to get his feedback on my work. I am happy to read that the work is showing some progression. I feel that I hit a bit of a dead-end at the start of this module but since getting into the countryside and urban research my work has taken on a new life. He notes the image of the broken bricks, which I quite like too and almost starts to show how this idea of the countryside turning into the urban towns and cities is taking hold. The contrast is an areas of development highlighted to me from the last module and an area that I have been working on improving from both a technical and aesthetic level. It is good to see that this is being reflected in the feedback that I am getting.
I am feeling that I have made some improvements in the sequencing of my work however acknowledge that there is still a great deal of development to be made. I may be relying on the descriptive text to carry my narrative and this is potentially having a detrimental effect on the way I see my non-human images connecting with the portraits. Too much explanation may also have the opposite effect in the accessibility of the work. By telling you what my image is I am shutting out nuance and ambiguity that may lead to multiple interpretation of it.
I teach digital media at an FE college, so my current practice is focused on this as my full time profession. I have also spent the last number of years working towards teaching qualifications and HEA Fellowship, which has meant the commercial aspects of my practice have taken more of a back seat. Prior to teaching, I was a full time freelance photographer, working on the travel and lifestyle sector mainly for airline publications (Fig: 1). Although this is far removed from the practice that I am aiming to develop on the MA, I do still license images from my archive on a fairly regular basis through a range of different platforms.
Throughout this process, I have sought commercial opportunities with the work that I have produced for each of the module in order to raise my profile as an art practitioner over an editorial photographer. I enjoy teaching, so see myself producing longer term projects whilst moving more into higher education teaching in the medium to long term.
During Positions and Practice for example, I created a project around Somerset Carnivals that I grew up with (Fig: 2). As this was the first project that I produced for the MA, I feel that it was more in line with the work that I used to produce. I aimed to share this work through a number of platforms and gained initial interest from the BBC and C41 magazine but unfortunately, owing to the pandemic, priorities changed, and the work no longer fit into what they were publishing. I did get one of the portraits from the series into the KLPA this year and although that has no reward as commerce, it does help to raise profile (Fig: 3).
During the last module, I also produced a series of images for a local school, which they used for marketing (Fig: 4) and in return I was able to access and create a number of portraits that contributed towards my project (Fig: 5).
Jumping to this module, my aim is to try and create some projects that would run alongside the development of my WIPP, which also have more commercial possibilities and could translate into funding and/or building of profile. To develop my approach from the first module, I also want to see the possibilities of creating work utilising the research, style and intent developed over the past year. I have been continuing to send work and have gained some interest, which has yet to translate into something tangible but has been quite positive. One of my aims since the beginning of the MA was to also explore the potential for funding, which might be more in line with my intent, so will be creating a community focused grant application to gauge possibilities in Art and Commerce.
Alys Tomlinson – Tomlinson comfortably blends both her commercial practice as well as her long term art projects on her website as there is a clear difference between these two areas. Her client list is very much based on working with institutions and focussed on people, which aligns quite well with her personal work, such as ‘Ex-Voto.’ She has said that she doesn’t see a significant need to separate these two on her site as they all represent her practice and her ability to work in both realms (2020). Tomlinson has also stated however, that even though she is represented by a gallery and she would like to see her work move towards this area, she acknowledges the need for her commercial practice to co-exist with her art practice (2019)
Clementine Schneiderman – What is most interesting about Schneiderman’s approach is how she embeds herself into the communities that she focusses her work on. And by doing so she creates opportunities for both her own practice and also commercial outlets for her images without compromising her intent. ‘It’s Called ffasiwin’ (2019) for example, is an ongoing collaborative project with a community of the Welsh Valley and merges seamlessly with commissioned work that she has completed for Vogue.
Simon Roberts – Roberts has established a practice that also blends his personal projects with his commercial work and seems to have reached a point where he is commissioned to create work related to this personal practice.
I stated in my project proposal for positions and practice that I was keen to go through the process of applying for grants and bursaries, especially during this module where it feels the most relevant. I have applied for others prior to this module, for example a Grain Bursary and the RPS Postgraduate bursary, which have been useful to work through the process of these kinds of application. I am interested to apply for an Arts Council Grant as I feel this too would be useful to explore possibilities and work through the process. My aim is to propose a project that is thematically related to my research project and can be worked on alongside it, if not form part of my wider project. As my research is centered around the idea of community, I feel that it would be a good organisation to work with and I also aim to include the college where I work as it performs an essential service for the community.
I have been developing my academic writing and during the breaks between modules, I have been aiming to consolidate my research by writing essays in response to ‘calls for papers.’ So far I have not had success at publishing any of these however, one of my essays was well received by the editor who replied with interest in the ideas that I presented but unfortunately it did not fit with what they were currently publishing. I take this as a really positive response to my writing yet my approach still needs to be refined. In that case, I submitted what I had instead of considering what they would be interested in, which is clearly not the right way to approach submitting work. I have now focused attention onto themed calls to create a piece of writing that is still speculative but also thematically expected. For example, I was forwarded an opportunity that called for papers on the theme of ‘Community,’ which aligns with my research project and I will work towards submitting for this. Additionally, this has the added benefit of supporting the research that I am creating for my photography.
Feedback from rejected essays has been a challenge as most organisations are not in a position to provide it. However, I recently entered the Source magazine writing prize and although I did not get my essay selected, the editor was willing to respond to my request for feedback, which I was greatly appreciative and intend to reflect and refine my approach to writing.
I decided to select the Oxfam A as I am quite interested in exploring the idea of climate change on my own street. It aligns quite well with the research and my investigations into the idea of community and that I have already begun to create work based in my local area.
One of my key goals for Sustainable prospects was also to see how I might apply the focus of my research project and its core idea into a more commercially viable project, so this creates an embedded opportunity for me to consider first. It also means that there is potential for crossover and any of the images that I create for the brief might also sit quite well in the broader project that I am working on this module.
1. Your Street & Climate Change
Coming up with a concept that shows how climate change impacts everyone, not just how it is perceived in media as happening in other places far away. There is a topicality to how we are being impacted during the pandemic and arguments as to if Covid-19 was as a result of climate change, with no clear evidence that suggests so. However, there are other drug resistant Pathogens that are becoming more and more dangerous as a result of climate change (Richtel & Jacobs, 2019).
We are surrounded by all kinds of fungus, which are unable to live in the human body owing to our warm blood and a body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, which the fungi will die off as it lives at much lower temps. Yet, one particular strain known as Candida Auris has been infecting a number of people around the world leading to deaths in some of the cases (Webster, 2020). What is being suggested, is that this fungus is periodically being exposed to warmer and warmer days as the climate is heating up ono average every year. As a result, it is able to survive at much higher temperatures, which crucially means that it can also survive in the human body causing disease (2020). Additionally, there has been a steady decline in body temperatures, especially in western culture, which has been linked to the way modern medicine has had an impact on our ability to survive many illnesses (Casadevall, et al., 2019).
What is quite striking about Candida Auris is that it exists everywhere, including on the streets that we live. Until now it has not posed a threat, until climate change has created the conditions for its need to survive at higher temperatures. This is something that has the potential to impact all of us and could even lead to the next pandemic if not addressed.
This is an initial idea at this stage, but I do see some potential in exploring it as a way to highlight that climate change impacts everyone and Is not just something that effects those in faraway places. I will pitch the idea as I feel that it can fit the Oxfam brief however, do realise that it also has a lot of links to the Welcome Trust ‘Climate and Health’ brief. If we as a group decide to create something else for the Oxfam A challenge, I may still explore this one independently and submit to the Welcome Trust photo competition as I feel it should be explored.
Casadevall, A., Kontoyiannis, D. P. & Vincent, R., 2019. On the Emergence of Candida auris: Climate Change, Azoles, Swamps, and Birds. American Society for Microbiology.
Richtel, M. & Jacobs, A., 2019. A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy: The rise of Candida auris embodies a serious and growing public health threat: drug-resistant germs.. [Online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/06/health/drug-resistant-candida-auris.html [Accessed 1 October 2020].
Webster, M., 2020. Radiolab Podcast – Fungus Amungus. [Online] Available at: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/fungus-amungus [Accessed 1 October 2020].