Reflecting on Weeks 16 to 20, FMP

KayLynn Deveney’s The day-to-day life of Albert Hastings is a skilful combination of image and text. It has been highly influential in the development of the images for Jo-Ana.

A significant issue, and subject of some debate, has been whether to include some of Jo’s personal effects in the text images in order to provide context in the same way that they do in the food images.

Deveney’s work is significant because it demonstrates, very clearly, the collaboration between the subject and the photographer – Deveney taking the photographs, Albert providing the text.

Jo-Ana is a collaboration. One of it’s aims being to help individuals recognise the signs and symptoms of anorexia so that, should someone they know succumb to the disease, there can be early clinical intervention. Another aim, though, is to allow a member of a group that is quite often marginalised and stigmatised to offer their candid personal account.

There were, then, two options for presenting the text extracts from Jo’s diaries. To present them formally, square on to the camera, evenly lit and without any of Jo’s personal effects, Alternatively, to present them as a still life composition and include some of Jo’s possessions in order to provide context.

I am pleased that I chose the latter option, placing some personal effects alongside the diary extracts. I knew very early on in the project how I wanted the final edit of images to look, I had a very definite vision for the finished work. Nevertheless, it was important to keep an open mind and experiment. Having prepared many sets of test images, the issue was still given very careful consideration. Test images were also shown to a group of colleagues in order to canvas their thoughts. All opinions favoured the inclusion of personal effects alongside the text extracts for the context that they brought to the images.

Initial feedback from family, friends (who had not seen the images before the exhibition launch) and members of the public confirms that the context brought to the images by the inclusion of some of Jo’s possessions is an important factor in making the images accessible.

This has been proof of the value of clearly defining a vision for the finished body of work early in the project, understanding that alternatives are available, experimenting in order to confirm the initial vision as being correct as much as disproving all alternatives wrong, and being able to robustly justify your decision.

Developing a descriptor for the FMP has been a prominent task of the past few weeks. It has gone hand in hand with the development of key texts to supplement the online gallery including statements about the project, the subject and the artist.

22 June and the website was made available for previews, 29 June and the website launched officially.

The launch went without hitch. That is not to say there weren’t any problems, because there were. But these were identified during pre-launch testing. The audiovisual presentation, for example, could not be played in some web browsers, and this needed to be resolved by adding lines of code to the websites htaccess files. There were also issues with colours not being seen uniformly across a range of browsers, devices and social media channels – this was resolved by experimentation with a range of colour samples. I am extremely grateful to those who assisted in resolving this issue by providing valuable feedback with regard to how text colours appeared on their device, and in different browsers.

Launching the online exhibition has been a huge relief, and has brought a huge sense of achievement.

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