On Reflection: Week 3, Module Two

A better week this week (or, as I write this, last week) – a bit less frenetic.

Looking back to the September last year and before … …

I started off not being particularly skilled at critical evaluation, basing my like or dislike of an image on something much more “intuitive” – going with a “gut-feeling”.

Now though, I think it fair to say, my critical evaluation is becoming more fluid, that is to say I’m becoming more fluent, it isn’t as laboured – I don’t have to think so hard about what I’m thinking.

The theory is starting to come together in an appreciable way – all the different strands are starting to weave together and create something of meaning.

Point in case, my analysis of Barthes statement: “In the Photograph, the power of authentication exceeds the power of representation” was described by a fellow student as being “really put across clearly and concisely” and having “helped to decipher” a quote that had caused my colleague some struggle.

This is really positive feedback. And it is also very insightful … …

Why?

Because it informs me not only of how well I am understanding and assimilating theories being introduced as part of the MA, it also informs me of how well (or not) I may be articulating my ideas relating to those theories.

That’s not to say I didn’t struggle in evaluating Barthes statement myself, I’m just better equipped, and more practiced, in doing so. I’m actually really pleased that my efforts resulted in something that elicited a feeling and a response, and was of benefit.

Consequently, I am feeling a lot more positive regarding the course – as though the “mists are clearing”.

I’m finding a deeper meaning to the “deeper meaning”.

Things that, at first, when being completed were a chore (to say the least) are now starting to show a higher value.

Initially, nothing worked for me. No system of summarising key points seemed effective – everything was more miss than hit. The last week has seen a breakthrough. With the implementation of mind maps, note taking has improved significantly – it’s a system which lends itself very readily to summarising the theory related to photography and critical thinking, helping to assimilate the sometimes-abstruse information much more easily. I really should have started using iMindMap for this before now (why didn’t I think of this earlier?)

I also feel that I am gaining a wider and deeper awareness and understanding of contexts and audiences, and perceptions.

Exploring such concepts as “authenticity”, “representation”, semiotics and most recently the integrity of “constructed” images has done much to make me question my views on how images are consumed. And not only “how” they are viewed, but also “what” determines how they are viewed, and “why”.

The understanding that informed photographic practitioners have of how their images may be viewed by the audience, and the role that context plays in this, is fundamentally important. Knowing the audience, can mean the difference between a good photograph and a great photograph. But not just knowing the audience, truly knowing the audience – getting under the audience’s skin – and understanding the audience!

A topic which piqued my interest this week, are we makers or takers? Photographers follow a tendency to have a genre in which they specialise. But having a specialism doesn’t preclude them from taking photographs which fall into other genres – it isn’t “mutually exclusive”. Consequently, I think that we are, at different times both hunters and farmers of images? Being one doesn’t preclude the other.

An interesting week with regard to the project. ideas are still being developed. Work has continued resourcing materials and props and there have been some developments in this area. As an aside, there is an opportunity for an interesting mini-project in the forthcoming week, this requires some materials which had to be purchased and arrived today – it was quite exciting to open the package and explore the items as it’s unfamiliar territory for me. Something to look forward to: a very loose “brief” with plenty of scope for personal interpretation, in fact more of a set of guidelines rather than criteria to be fulfilled – just grab the camera and “go with the flow”.

Back to discussing the main project … …

I’m increasingly aware of the need for differentiation – generating output which is unique. Incorporating techniques of the old masters into images which have a social relevance is one way to achieve this – or at least goes part of the way. But, going beyond this, what is there? Part of my research this week has looked at post-processing and the techniques that can “add value” to images, in terms of helping produce a characteristic style. It’s been quite successful, informative and interesting. This is an area I wish to explore more.

I am seeing opportunities to explore in “mundane”, everyday things. Seeing the way that light from a lamp played on the surface of a table gave me an idea for something to try out, something to experiment with in a few photographs. It was the colour of the light – amazing – that caught my eye. I think I can recreate it and, if I can, it should make for a highly appealing image.

Visual strategies. What are they – in real terms? That’s something which, as it’s pertinent to the forthcoming assignment, I shall be contemplating over the next week.

An issue which does require some attention – my mind is like a “butterfly”, settling momentarily on an idea to sample its sweet nectar before flying off in a seemingly random manner to explore for the next. Perhaps that’s a good way to be “creative” – or to effectively “create” ideas – but, to me at least, it isn’t a very efficient or productive use of time. There’s obviously a balance to be struck … … something I need to work on.

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