TAOP 5 Reflection


Open College of the Arts

Tutor report


Overall Comments

First of all well done for completing AOP! It is great to see how much you have progressed over this course. Looking back on assignment 1 I can see how you have taken advice and feedback very seriously and pushed yourself out of your comfort zones. You have thrown yourself into this course with full gusto and have learnt an awful lot as a result. I am sure you will continue to develop your work if you continue this commitment and your eager and humble approach to learning.


I am very pleased to read this introduction, I have worked very hard on this module and indeed moved so far from my comfort zone that I think that you made me a different person. It has been a wild ride but so rewarding I feel so much better equipped now.



Assessment potential



I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, and providing you commit yourself to the course, I suggest that you are likely to be successful in the assessment.


As ever this makes me happy and makes me smile!


Feedback on assignment


This is a good assignment. The prints are strong and the black and white format really works for this theme, they are consistently printed with borders and hold together very well as a set. The matt paper also works here – I think it somehow seems more solemn and therefore appropriate. At the same time there is something beautiful about the cracked windows and peeling paint. Your composition stands out as particularly successful throughout this project. The newsagents is great because you have (almost!) got a direct front angle. (I think you should look at the Bechers and the New Topographics and write that up before assessment.)


What can I say to that but thank you for your kind words it makes all the hard work worth it when you receive a comment like this especially as this assignment was so turbulent before I got to the final theme


In our discussion about paper on Saturday I meant to say – there is no paper for every occasion. Trial and error is required for each purpose and what works for a particular project will not work for another. This is something that occurs with most things in art!


I am starting to think it matters more what I like than what others like, I bought a lot of satin paper and I think I like the matt better but I will persevere


What about other photographers who have worked in this style? Who influences you in this? Who are you relating to as a practitioner? It is important that you are always looking at other photographers who have done similar things so you can position yourself.


Interesting if we all did this we would all be an evolution of someone else is there no room for revolution? Saying this I think some of the inspiration came from David Lynch who I saw at the Photographers gallery, his work is not the same he does photograph abandoned warehouses and factories but for me his work was too dark and not tonal enough. This is his style however and I wanted to do something different. Strangely another influence was Andreas Serrano I saw a documentary on his work with the homeless of new York he went about buying their begging signs for $20 and made a movie of them all, this led me to thinking of doing a bit on the homeless, however I felt that just taking images of homeless people would in some way be exploiting them if I was not doing anything to help in return. This was the start of the thought process that led me to this submission.


Creatively speaking I think you have done quite a good job. I would normally veer away from empty shop buildings when speaking of the recession because it is such a newspaper approach! It is also a very literal approach to something deep and complicated and to some extent I do think that what you described in the blog about the recession being something personal to you does not come through in these pictures. In fact quite the opposite – they are observational, distant photos of the changing structure of our streets. However the way you have dealt with the image (framed the shops in context rather than close ups of shut doors / black and white with delicate printing and attention to detail) makes the work say more than a snap of an abandoned shop. So in this sense you have done well to avoid the standard response. I also think the distancing works well – an almost clinical and impotent recording of our times.


I don’t think I would have put it that way but you have hit the nail on the head in terms of my achieving what I was trying for. I tried to frame each image in a similar way to stand back and take in the whole thing it came from a discussion in Thatcham with Clive White who sagely said that you may be better using a single fixed focus lens to make your images as it would give them all a certain feel and would more likely develop a voice. I did not limit myself to one lens but I did have a set of framing criteria that are spookily the way you describe above. I am very pleased with this comment it makes the effort worthwhile and makes me feel like I achieved something here. I am starting to feel that my move back to black and white is having a good effect on my work and now I am using film and wet processing my own film I think my technique is getting better all the time, this is in no small part due to your excellent guidance. I have said it before and I can’t say it enough I feel blessed that I was assigned you as my first tutor the effect you have had on my work and workflow are amazing.


I know it is a narrative / magazine brief and I think you made a good decision not to put it in a brochure style layout. However I really don’t like the front cover as I think it belittles what you have done – it seems trite. I would take it away altogether and frame your series as a narrative in its own right.


Oh I so agree thank you for saying so though it was fun to take it really does not belong consider it gone!


Some images that stand out to me from this series are the closed down garage and the street corner with the fence and dilapidated building hidden behind the winter trees. I think this is because of the context you give us – these places are part of somewhere larger, where people matter and live in and from these places. The fact that they appear empty strengthens this – where have all the people gone? (Actually this could make a good title?!). You should also look at Sarah Pickering’s series Public Order.


What the viewer and to some extent you don’t see is that I am one of the people who is missing, all of these places have some meaning or reference to my life the street corner and trees was the Spaniard Inn the only night club open on a Sunday night when I was 17 – 18 we went every week in fact we had a club for every one of the seven days of the week then and this building makes me so sad when I look at it because I have some very happy memories of that place. I am told it has a preservation order on it and when re did the A3 in front and took the car park the owner just let it rot I assume they wait until it falls down so that the preservation order is meaningless in the meantime it is a sad and lonely reminder of happy times long gone.


Learning Logs or Blogs


Ok you may not want to hear this but I wonder if your blog has TOO many categories now! When I’m assessing I just want to click on Assignment 5 (for example) and be taken straight to the work and write-ups instantly. I wouldn’t worry about changing it now but would bear it in mind for future blogs.


You are probably right I have taken out any sub menus like the list of photographers so that everything is accessible from the one page now no second click.


Also there is so much more going on for you than I can see on this blog – what about your slides? Medium format camera? What quality are you seeing from these that makes them better than digital? (like you said on Saturday!) Your technique has vastly improved and you are making some beautiful imagery.


Oh so true I am doing a lot of work and practice and finding it really hard to document it, to make it worse I had a bad run in with my diabetes which left my blood sugar very high the upshot of which is that every time I sit at the keyboard to write I fall asleep. I am addressing it though and hopeful as I move on with the next module that will get better.


My film work is totally engrossing me and I will have to sit and write it up. I plan to make a big deal out of it in DPP as I have been told by Helen that introducing film and scanning a negative is an acceptable work flow, it will be interesting to work through a digital course with the input being film.


The impact of my film work is huge, it has slowed me down made me learn the zone system. Got me crafting images rather than spraying exposures at a scene and picking the best. I have been for over a year taking images of flower arrangements in strange locations for a friend who is writing a book. The usual methodology is to set up and take hundreds of bracketed images to ensure we don’t lose anything like we did in the beginning as we can’t recreate the arrangement. A couple of weeks ago he did another arrangement I took the digital camera and my Sekonic light meter and did the whole shoot in 9 images from which we will use about 6. He was a little stunned when I said we were done and on reviewing the images later said my you’re getting good at this. It’s all in the use of film!!


What about all your OCATV trips? What are you learning there?


In all honesty I did not think of documenting these which on reflection was stupid I will try but remembering them all will be tough.


Your book updates are behind and so are your photographers… I am sure you will correct this before assessment but please don’t allow this to slip behind as it is very important. As you will be submitting for July keep it as a priority and in future I would recommend adding your blogs as you go rather than having to go back to them.


All of the blog stuff was behind I am catching up I have done the work and even written the words in many cases just not written them on the blog, again Diabetes has been a curse here


Suggested reading/viewing (Context)

Continue to reflect and critique the books you are reading and the photographers you are looking at.


Do you have Liz Wells Photography Reader? I think it would be good to get to grips with some photo theory at this point.

Basic Critical Theory for photographers by Ashley Le Grange and David Bate’s Key concepts are good ones to start with.


I have all of those and they are mostly written up but not blogged the Ashley Le Grange book is brilliant it helped me make sense of some very difficult texts


Sarah Pickering:






I will investigate and try to get them written up


Conclusions / Pointers for assessment


Make sure your blog is up to date – not good if the last post is in Feb!


In progress


The presentation box is professional and appropriate for assessment. Don’t forget to label everything and look back at the requirements for assessment in the handbook obviously.


Ok I think I did that right its all in now


Ensure you clearly mark any reworks.




I wish you all the best for DPP and your future studies – I’m sure I will see you soon at a TV event. J


The saddest part is the parting of ways I am so glad you still do the TV group as your input is always so welcome do you think Gareth would respond well to cloning you? Thank you so much for all your support and advice I hope OCA appreciate what they have in you!



Tutor name:

Sharon Boothroyd



Next assignment due



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s