On Reflection … Week 12, Module One

Putting the final touches to the research proposal and work in progress portfolio, two seemingly simple tasks, hasn’t left much time for other activities this week.

Labour under no misunderstanding, these are assignments and I am after every available mark. I was leaving nothing to chance. Presentation was absolutely everything.

I tend to use a subtle frame to set off my images, a small white border around the image with a very fine grey keystroke to demark the area. And, in my opinion it looks good – a small finishing touch to define the area in space occupied by my images, just as a frame sets off a physical painting or photograph.

Disappointing then, and frustrating, that when my portfolio was assembled and converted to .pdf file and given final scrutiny, the border became corrupted. The two sides and top were present but with artefacts, and the bottom edge of the border was missing completely.

A number of attempts to rectify this problem failed to produce anything different. No matter what I tried, the border became corrupted when the portfolio was converted to a .pdf.

So, the borders were disposed of. All images are now borderless. At least, on the plus side, this will prevent marks from being lost due to untidy presentation.

I think I need to do some research into why the problem occurred. Certainly, the time to look into the issue further before the assignment submission deadline wasn’t available. Furthermore, there was a job to do and, as much as I think the borders helped set off my images, giving them a point of reference in space, there was no benefit in sentimentality. I would, however, like to look into their continued use in the future. I can’t be unique in having experienced the problem, so, something to research.

Who is this CRJ for? An interesting question which arose this week.

Is it for an individual? If so, is that individual myself, or someone else?

If not for an individual, then what audience?

Let’s just pause for a while and evaluate what the acronym, “CRJ”, actually means. I think there is a lot of mileage in such an evaluation.

Critical Reflection Journal.

Ultimately, whatever name is used to refer to the act of “reflective writing”, the aim is to focus on writing which is not solely descriptive but also analytical.

My view is that this CRJ is primarily for an individual, me! It is about my progression through an MA in photography. It is to document the research I undertake, the things that interest me and those that don’t, the things that go according to plan and what I can do to ensure more of the same and build upon these successes, and the things that go wrong and what I can take from such experiences.

Note, the use of the word “primarily” … …

I have no problem with sharing my thoughts, or indeed salient aspects of my research with those who share an interest in my project. And for that reason, I am more than amenable to suggestions of how the CRJ might be made more “reader friendly”.

Again, as with so much recently, it all comes down to perspectives. But to what extent should personal perspectives be allowed to dictate? And should any one personal perspective be given precedence over another?

On reflection (see what I did there?), I think it isn’t what is said, it is the way something is said that can be so irksome. I certainly feel that is what has caused me vexation this week.

Let’s distil that idea … …

It isn’t what is said, it is the way something is said.”

What that distils down to, rather pragmatically, is this: “how is it meant?

What are the motives for the commenter? What are the motives for the comment?

Being a photographer is about having a point of view. I think there are times when you have to make a stand, when you have to defend your art or your view on art.

Describing an image or its use as “tiresome” doesn’t really benefit anyone, doesn’t really enter into the true spirit of critiquing and isn’t really best practice. Photographs have different meanings to different people. What appears as a “tiresome” image to one individual may be an important image for any number of reasons to someone else. For every image, there is an artist who invested time and effort, possibly other resources, into making that image and, as a consequence, it deserves respect.

Images, whether they are paintings or photographs, are intended to be looked at – repeatedly. It isn’t common practice to hang a picture on the wall on Monday, find it “tiresome” by Tuesday and change the image that hangs there on a repeated basis thereafter. Or is it?

Clearly a compromise needs to be found. So, yes, a CRJ needs to be a “reader friendly” entity. But not at the expense of all “individuality” rendering it “sterile” and “barren” and devoid of any opportunity to learn “reflectively”, after all, we are all individuals and we all learn in our own unique way – no two CRJs are the same. People include in a CRJ what has value to them at that time.

Letting all the dust settle, a lot of valid points have been discussed this week and a number of opportunities to make this CRJ more “accessible” have been identified and will be implemented.

One final thought on CRJs, perhaps there is a reason why any particular CRJ is the “way it is”. That reason, perhaps the learning curve relating to setting up and maintaining a CRJ is a steep as that relating to the subject of the CRJ itself (maybe even steeper).

From a personal point of view, I haven’t found WordPress the easiest of applications to use. I’ll be investing some of my downtime during the Christmas holiday genning up on WordPress and its wily ways.

Moving on … …

I have had two ideas for future images. Images which I am really excited about. Images which bring so much of my research and subsequent findings to date together in a cohesive manner. And there is plenty of scope to be creative and generate something really aesthetically appealing.

I’m looking forward to working on these images.

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