On Reflection: Weeks 13 – 15, Module Four

A consolidated account of weeks 13 to 15, module four.


Week 13 – w/c Monday 08 January 2018

Building a website, a seemingly simple task!

Started in September, it has been a saga of trial and tribulation.

I had a very clear outcome in mind, a very definite look that I wanted for the website which would represent my photographic practice.

Having tried many options for ready-made, template-based websites, the experience has taught me that a website designed and up and running in minutes is nothing more than a marketing ploy.

WordPress has served me very well during the life of this CRJ – I am impressed. Nevertheless, I was unable to obtain the freedom I wanted to customise my website even with a self-hosted .org.

And to be honest, I quickly found myself out of my depth.

Be clear on this, WordPress is a very powerful application for the design of websites. Any constraints on my ability to customise were a direct result of a lack of knowledge on my part.

New Year’s Day 2018, I made the decision to tackle the issue which had plagued me for some months. Locked away for six days, I taught myself everything I needed to know to be able to use WordPress child themes.

The results of my efforts can be seen here:


The website isn’t complete (will it ever be?) and is subject to further development.

It has received positive comments from peers and from Lynn Chambers (MAYN Creative).

I’m proud of this achievement and the website closely matches my original intention.

I think it gives me a very strong platform from which to build my photographic practice.

Very positive feedback was received from Amy Simmons, MC Saatchi, regarding the treatment I prepared (see Receiving Treatment). In summary, she felt that all the information contained in the treatment was correct with a nice level of detail.

Moving forward, Simmonds suggested that images which provide inspiration for one aspect of an image are placed together in one separate section, with a separate section being included in the treatment for each aspect, e.g. images relating to lighting, texture or background.

Additionally, images which are included for positional illustration should be labelled as such. Positional illustrations being favoured over mock-ups, the latter possibly placing a constraint on creativity by preventing the opportunity to experiment with different arrangements during the shoot.

Again, another achievement to feel positive about.

Week 14 – w/c Monday 15 January 2018


The effort has paid off.

I am very pleased with the results for the assignments submitted 15 December 2017.

These results build very nicely on earlier marks.

Looking back 12 months and there is a marked difference in the feedback provided by the academic staff – last year I was a mess, floundering.

I am looking forward to working on my final major project.

With regard to my project, the Christmas break was an opportunity to evaluate both concept and plans.

The result was a major rethink – the theme for my final major has changed quite significantly.

Initially, it was the intention to explore alcohol dependency. I think there is a lot of mileage in this theme as a project.

To be honest, the concept met with mixed reactions, but most were negative.

My revised plan is to explore what happens when our relationship with food becomes unhealthy – in this looking at anorexia.

Week 15 – w/c Monday 22 January 2018

Rejection is part of being a photographer – fact.

Nevertheless, it can be a very bitter pill to swallow.

There have been a lot of positives in recent weeks – positives that I can continue to build on. I don’t know if that made a rejection this week harder to accept.

Is it a major rejection? No, not by any means – but it still got under my skin.

Inspiration can come in many forms, and from many different areas.

‘Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.’

– Rocky Balboa

I don’t need to beat anyone else. I just need to conquer myself. Then, and only then, I will have beaten everything.

A very productive week, focussing on project planning. There is clearly a long way to go, the project is deliverable at the end of August, but I feel that the concept is quite developed.

Forward into module 5 …

On Reflection: Week 12, Module Four

‘Life etches itself onto our faces as we grow older, showing our violence, excesses or kindnesses.’

– Rembrandt Van Rijn

So, it’s done! Module four is essentially complete. OK, there are a few items which I want to look at in weeks 13 to 15 but the teaching part is over, the assignments finished and submitted. An anxious wait now for the results …

I am pleased with my Work in Progress portfolio submission. The critical research journal is ongoing but, again, I am happy with the submission.

Video presentations continue to be a nemesis.

I made significant progress during module three and his was reflected by some very positive feedback for the assignment.

In all honesty, I don’t feel as comfortable about the video presentation for module our as I would like, I don’t feel it is slick production I would like it to be.

Things don’t always go according to plan, that’s the reality. Things certainly didn’t go as planned with regard to producing images for the WIP portfolio. Props needed for the images didn’t arrive from the supplier of first choice. The back-up plan didn’t go without hitches, with problems including non-existent and late deliveries.

Notwithstanding logistical issues, the necessary items arrived and from thereon the WIP images went ahead as planned.

That wasn’t the case with the video presentation.

It raises an interesting question. What happens when setbacks necessitate the delay of a video production? Setbacks have, after all, caused delays in the completion and subsequent launch of major film productions.

Video is an area I want to work in. I find it enjoyable – it’s oral presentation assignments which I don’t enjoy, and there are obvious advantages from a marketing point of view: firstly, videos are powerful marketing tools in their own right, and secondly, being able to produce videos is a valuable addition to my portfolio of skills.

But would I choose to make the kind of videos that are required for the assignments?

I think the answer to that question has to be a definite no.

Oral Presentations (to use the correct terminology) are designed to tick boxes. They take me out of my comfort zone, they ‘test’ me – which is excellent, it’s exactly what I want.

My vision, however, of how videos can be incorporated into my practice is very different – for example, I wouldn’t choose to narrate videos myself and I think voiceover is achievable even on a small budget.

A key point is that clients will commission me for my unique style of video production. Fundamentally, this may be very different from an oral presentation.

What went wrong?

I think I need to step back for a while, then critically review the video presentation with fresh eyes. But for now, timings were an issue. I think there is a disjoint, a disconnect between the audio and video elements of the presentation. There isn’t a massive timing difference between the audio and video tracks, but it’s enough for me to feel uncomfortable with the presentation.

Technology, in most cases, helps. But sometimes it can hinder.

There is a compromise arising from using technology to produce a ‘slick’ video – the more you do to something, the more there is to put right when something goes wrong.

Unfortunately, the assignment deadline meant that there just wasn’t time to (essentially) deconstruct the video into its various elements and sync them.

So, for this round of assignments, I need to capitalise on my strengths, which are (hopefully) a strong WIP portfolio and a strong CRJ.

Looking to the future, I need to spend some time during the Christmas break developing my video editing skills.

In last week’s reflection I wrote the following:

‘A potential equipment upgrade has led to some interesting conversations this week. Photography is both an art and science and consequently I think photographers fall into two categories: those who have a bias towards the artistic, and those with a bias towards the science.

Discuss a lens with a fast aperture and the artistic will comment about the ‘beautiful bokeh’ the lens will produce, discuss the same lens with those biased towards the scientific and they will comment how the lens will ‘let in bags of light’’.

This was as accurate as I thought, and far more prophetic.

Paraphrasing, an early appraisal of my Work in Progress submission – apparently it shows I have a good camera.

Interesting …

Receiving Treatment …

Creative treatment based on a brief set by Amy Simmons, M & C Saatchi.

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Details of brief:

‘This is for a European department store who is trying to break into the UK market, so that’s the client that you need to have in mind. The target market is UK shoppers, any gender aged 20 – 30.

The brief itself is a campaign about how people have intimate and personal relationships with inanimate objects. You should focus on an item of your choosing within the treatment. It can be clothing, a book, a piece of art, food, electronic item, basically, anything that someone might purchase in a department store.

You can do this in any way that you choose, this is a very open brief. It’s your interpretation of that, We do get briefs like this sometimes, where the art director doesn’t come up with a visual and they really leave it down to the photographer. You can take this in any direction that you so choose in terms of treatment and lighting. You could just do a simple still life or you could do something with cast or on location, as long as there’s a sense of affection that can be illustrated for that object. You really need to feel that someone loves that object, however you choose to interpret that.

This is a bit of a practical element to the brief: where is the copy going to sit on the image? It’s going to sit in the top left hand corner and will read ‘This -insert object here- is mine’, obviously that would be the name of whatever object you would choose. The copy will be in white, so you should have a darker space in the top left for legibility. The logo of the company will be in the bottom right. Those are some considerations you should talk about, how you would compose the shot and how you would keep those areas clean to ensure that both of those things are legible.

Treatment and lighting, as I mentioned. This company are commissioning a variety of different photographers who have totally different styles, so it is very much your take on the brief. Do it in your style, with visual references that inspire you.

Cast: if you think that you do want to use cast, obviously include some references of the sorts of people you are thinking of. They must look like they might genuinely own that object or item. If depicting multiple people, they should be a mix of ethnicities and the same age range as the target market.

If you are thinking about shooting on location, the location should be UK based but also this could be shot in a studio, it really depends on how you want to interpret the brief. I think one of the key factors will be making this object feel like the hero of the shot in some way.

Formats: this is a key point. The brief is just for one asset, so one shot, but it will be for a social media post. As I talked about earlier, please be aware in your treatment and maybe discuss how this image is going to work for the square crop for Instagram, the portrait crop for Snapchat, and the landscape crop for Facebook. Will you capture everything in one shot or would you compose the three different formats differently?’