On Reflection: Week 5, FMP

Five weeks down, 25 to go …

5/30 ths


Not so scary.

What makes it intimidating is the speed at which the first five weeks of the 30 allotted for the Final Major Project (FMP) have passed.

Fortunately, progress in that time has been significant.

One aspect of my FMP which has required some lengthy is the style of shot.

It has been suggested that some repetition is creeping into my work. On the basis of this, it was recommended that I study the early still life images of Irving Penn.

I am very open to both of these suggestions.

In the beginning, there was a set of objectives …

One of those objectives was to undertake a photographic exploration of the still life paintings of the old Dutch masters.

With few exceptions, the pronkstilleven†1 of the Dutch golden era are presented in tabletop still life form.

I do have a problem with having come so far only to change direction, I want to stay true to original objectives. Research is vital, being informed is important. But for me, every part of the MA leads to the FMP: all the research, all the images – each phase using the output of the previous phase as a foundation upon which to build. It’s progressive and, whilst there needs to be a discernible improvement throughout the MA, I think it is important to maintain some point of contact with the original intent, some trace to demonstrate the evolution.

‘Of course, you should also have a table upon which to set up your still life. The table may appear time and time again in your paintings, becoming a familiar subject in your art, so choose a table that is aesthetically interesting to you’ (Friel, 2010).

Ultimately, I have to be happy with the work I produce or be happy with the way in which I produce my work.

‘Don’t be afraid of producing work you like, instead of what you think other people will like’ (Simmans, 2018).

So many aspects of my work required development at the start of the MA: technical ability, creativity, visual narrative skills, research skills, critical analysis …

These points alone are, I believe, adequate justification for resolving my FMP and, therefore, my MA by continuing to produce work in a traditional still life style.

I was introduced to visual anthropology in module two of the MA, and to repeat photography in module four – subsequently both have become important to me in terms of photographic practice.

Expanding on this, I think documenting the way we live our lives, producing a record for future generations is important, and I believe repeat photography is an invaluable way of documenting situations which develop over a period of time.

As mentioned above, my visual narrative skills needed considerable work and I have worked hard to improve this aspect of my craft.

I think that resolving my FMP by producing still life images in a traditional style places a greater emphasis on the story itself: the subjects, their composition and the message they carry has to create engagement with the audience.

The visual narrative has to shoulder a greater portion of the weight … no bad thing!


Note †1: pronkstilleven – still life



Friel, Michael (2010). Still Life Painting Atelier: An Introduction to Oil Painting. New York: Watson-Guptil Publications

SIMMANS, XANTHE (2018). ‘Advice on Studying’. Lecture in progress.com [online]. Available at: https://lectureinprogress.com/advice/xanthe-simmans (accessed: 05 March 2018)

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