On Reflection: Week 10, Module Four

The mystery of Instagram!

Having analysed several weeks of data, I think there are two issues with regard to growth in the number of account followers.

Firstly, desensitisation. There is an observable increase in the number of followers associated with a campaign of image posting, followed by a plateau.

Why? Do Instagram users become desensitised by regular posts to an account? Is the expectancy associated with routine, regular postings counter-productive?

And secondly, retention. Looking more closely at the number of followers, there is identifiable pattern of rise and fall around a specific number. For every follower added to the list of followers, two or three are lost.

Again, why? This is a phenomenon I have questioned before, and it is a phenomenon which continues to be observable.

Is it that Instagram users which fall into this category are expecting some sort of reciprocal benefit?

Pragmatically, building a network doesn’t happen overnight, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ – these things take time and relationships have to be nurtured.

A huge relief to get the audio tracks laid down for the video presentation. Video presentations continue to be a nemesis, although a nemesis I am seemingly beginning to master.

Camtasia – what wonderful software you are! Long gone are the days of preparing PowerPoint slides, advancing them one-by-one, reading whilst fumbling with the pages of a script only for the recording to be scrapped and the process started anew because of a mis-pronounced word (or a sneeze, or a cough, or someone entering the room … the myriad of things which confound presentation production).

Camtasia – altogether something more sophisticated!

As I write at the beginning of December, thoughts of Christmas are beginning to form into words.

I am looking forward to Christmas for several reasons but pertinently because it offers some respite from study. 2017 has been a long (and difficult) year.

In real terms, this means there is a huge incentive to give everything for one more all-out offensive, one final push as I prepare my assignments for submission on 15 December.

This in turn makes me wonder what the sentiment will be in summer 2018. There won’t be a Christmas break to look forward to, not for some four to six months anyway, only the prospect of the end of two years of study – the end of a (major) chapter in my life. Of course, the end of one chapter signals the start of another.

It’s a very bitter-sweet set of circumstances – there are times I love my studies, there are times where I question my motives for putting myself (and family) through the trials and tribulations of postgraduate study.

Broadgate Estimate

Brief

A small communications agency contacts you and would like you to give them an estimate. They are re-branding Broadgate, an area in London, and need 25 images to use for printed materials, social media, web, tube ads and potentially billboards. The license term is five years. They think you can do the shoot in two days.

Commercial-Estimate_16Nov2017

Additional usage includes the use of 25 images for five years, European market. The brief is quite wide in terms of the printed and electronic media listed, so additional usage is calculated on the basis of all printed and all electronic media.

Prima facie, this estimate may seem somewhat pricey. But a few things need to be considered.

Firstly, this is a notional brief. That doesn’t mean this is fictional estimate. What it does mean is that in the real world, this brief would be commissioned by the company which manages the Broadgate complex – a huge complex of mixed retail, leisure and commercial units. They would have a budget for this and I think that it would extend to meet this and similar quotes, quite possibly beyond.

The images will be used over a five-year period, consequently the Broadgate management company’s accountants may recommend amortisation of the costs in which case at least part of the estimate will be spread over the five-year period.

Secondly, it is an estimate not an invoice. This means two things.

It can be subject to negotiation.

And it is prepared using the accounting principle of prudence (which requires that the worst case is reported). Consequently, the figures are provided are for a four-day shoot – the shoot may only take three days in reality and the cost would, therefore, be less but the higher cost budgeted for.

Connoisseurship

‘Connoisseurship involves the acquisition of extensive first-hand experience of works of art with the aim, first, of attributing works to artists and schools, identifying styles and establishing sources and influences, and second, of judging their quality and hence their place in a canon’ (Fernie in Rose 2016).

 

Reference:

Rose, Gillian (2016). Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Methods. London: Sage Publications Limited

On Reflection: Week 9, Module Four

Fraught by logistics, things are not coming together well this week. Fortunately, time for contingencies has been built into the schedule.

Deliveries of props for my latest Work in Progress images are proving to be a lot more erratic than I would hope. Also fortunately, there is a back-up plan although I don’t think circumstances are so dire as to require it to be deployed just yet.

But less of the negative and more of the positive …

Reflecting on my Instagram posts to date, the post which has attracted most attention relates diet and mental health.

Continuing this analysis …

In December 2016 I was asked to identify potential markets for my work. I suggested that my work would be of interest to photographers and artists, editors, teachers and students, and the public – each group having their own unique stake.

Was I correct in identifying these potential markets for my work?

Yes, is the short answer. Whilst I have yet to fully engage with some markets, response analysis to Instagram posts to date shows that these are the groups showing most interest in my work.

Instagram seems quite an ephemeral entity. My account has seen organic growth in terms of followers – but this is net growth.

There is, however, also gross increase in the number of account followers.

On occasions it can seem to be two steps forward and three steps backwards.

Who are the Instagram users who take the time and effort to like a post and follow the associated account, only to unfollow it at a future date? How do we define them? How do we go about retaining them?

How we communicate fascinates me. As a subject this has featured in my thoughts significantly these past few days. One issue that has really resonated with me as a result of my studies (throughout my studies to date) is what we intend an audience to see, and what they actually see.

As I continue to work on the images for my Work in Progress portfolio, I am increasingly aware of meaning. It is obvious that there isn’t a single meaning.

I think in the past my images haven’t also developed in the way that I had hoped or imagined.

So, this is about learning techniques which enable me to improve the way in which my ideas translate into finished images. My drawing skills prevent me from producing scamps or storyboards. I have, however, found spreadsheets very useful in laying out, for itemising the details for each image within a body of work in order to ‘visualise’ the (potential) end result.

I continue to seek improvements in this area of my image-making.

On Reflection: Week 8, Module Four

‘At this moment in human history, I truly believe that photography is the most universal language on the planet. I think it’s the one language that everyone understands no matter what class they belong to, no matter what education they have, no matter how much money they have, no matter what verbal language they speak — photography is a profoundly rich visual language that is open to all to use and to understand’ (Caspar in Kraft, 2017).

Photography is a visual language: a system of communication using visual elements.

It is a method of visual storytelling in which images replace words, series of images replace sentences, and a body of work provides a narrative.

Photographer’s compose an image, blending light and subject, and exercising choice over colour and timing in the same way that the rules of syntax are used in the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a non-visual language.

Distilling this idea further, it is the way that a photographer combines technical and creative ability. It is more commonly referred to as the photographer’s style and it can be as unique as a fingerprint.

Photography is also about expressing a (particular) way of seeing, it is a way of interacting with the world. There are many aspects involved in developing a photographer’s visual language, but an overriding trend is essential. Intention is needed on the part of the photographer, there has to be a point of departure, and there has to be consistency.

It’s very easy to get sidetracked in the weeks leading up to an assignment submission. Important as they are, assignments are only one portion of the overall, larger picture.

I am happy with progress made regarding the video presentation, still lots to do but progress so far has been very positive.

With regard to the WIP images, again I am happy with the images as they stand. But being happy isn’t the same as being satisfied. There is always room for improvement and I do want to re-shoot.

Pertinently, the more I look at the images, the more I question.

Something that it is easy to lose sight of is the bias that can creep into a body of work as it develops, especially where re-shooting of images is involved. The alternatives are to present an independent enquiry which invites the viewer to form their own questions and then reach their own conclusions, or to present a body of work which imposes an opinion upon the viewer, leaving little opportunity to question. As a photographer, I think it is acceptable to express a personal opinion through one’s project work provided there is justification for having reached that opinion.

I think we need to be aware of the difference between producing art as a form of expression, and producing propaganda.

This is highly relevant to me at the moment with my increasing interest in visual anthropology, and in photography as a tool for social research.

Do photographers have a responsibility not to introduce bias? How far should a photographer go in expressing their personal opinion regarding a subject through their images?

Which brings us back, very nicely, to photography being a visual language, and each photographer having a unique style which expresses how he or she interacts with the world.

 

References:

Kraft, Coralie (2017). ‘Searching for Fluency in the Visual Language of Photography’. Lensculture.com [online]. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/lensculture-editors-searching-for-fluency-in-the-visual-language-of-photography (accessed: Thursday 16 November 2017)