Assignment 3: Tutor Feedback and Response

Overall Comments

A submission that partially fulfilled your brief. Further research on contemporary practitioners and having a consistent line of enquiry would have benefited you greatly.

Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

The compositions here are very good. Your control of light is, as last time, exquisite. I would like to see a greater selection, I want more of this journey. Did you photograph all the spaces in your Google Street View search?

Whilst you have referenced the New Topographics movement I would like to see your reflections on their motivations; why the work looked like it did, how it moved photography along. There is more to be gained than an interest in the same subject matter. Have another look and try to glean more insight into their aims as well as methods. As your work is at night I can’t stress enough that you should be engaging with work by Dan Holdsworth, Edgar Martins and Rut Blees Luxembourg. As its a roadtrip, Paul Graham’s A1 Great North Road and Robert Frank’s The Americans should be looked at. There are many other photographers particularly in the USA worth pursuing after these. I mentioned Lee Friedlander last week, also look at Garry Winogrand, Bill Owens and Chauncey Hare.

We really need to see contact sheets so that we can gain an understanding of your edit.

Well done for reflecting on our discussion about starbursts, however, as a student you need to be finding references, seeking out research that backs up what amounts to decisions based on taste. Its not the case that something is “good” or “bad” or that volume is an indicator of something being less than desirable, what happens is as students of photography we look at the images and read them. Look at the books Photography by David Bate or Stephen Bull for connotation and denotation. These images denote a starburst, they connote an affiliation with other images that employ this effect, the images that employ this effect most are those that we see in amateur photography magazines, competitions, camera clubs etc., we cannot help but associate the effect with where we have previously seen it (and in volume). Similarly this is also where we see light trails. A couple of the images have trails that have enough disruptive information to slow the immediate connotation of the amateur, such as perhaps, 1 and 6. In images 5 and 7 the trails are relatively subtle but it would be interesting to see the locations without any distraction. Image 8 is subtlest and is the most interesting.

Your idea of using the trails to connect the images, and thus the journey, works aesthetically using the thin red line of 3, 5 and 7, an edit of the whole journey like this would be interesting to see. This could perhaps work, there’s a Paul Seawright image taken in Wales that does possibly employs a tail light to good effect.

Seawright was on a journey to Merthyr Tydfl.

In your images one of your aims was to reveal detail, can you reflect on whether/how you achieved this?

If the series is chronological, the sky is vital to show the timespan. The sequence looks like a fair progression, though 6 and 7 look like they are in reverse order just from the shading.

You mention anxiety in your writing. I think perhaps that if it is a factor in the planning and making of the work you could start to use photography to try to express your feelings. This is a very hard thing to do but it seems to make sense that if the condition is intrinsic to the work, the work should speak of it. I think that your last assignment hinted towards this. This series seems almost an avoiding tactic with its reliance on technology. There could be something in this “distancing”, but it needs to move past the obvious. A journey also implies something more metaphorical, or psychologically some sort of investigation; something is posited, looked at in a different light (night, inhuman long exposure) and something new is revealed. Again, I fend the vestiges of amateur photography rein me back from trying to see this in your work. I want to get lost in the leaves of the trees and the dark of the forecourts but I am continually distracted by the mundanity of the light trails. Look at the work of Liza Dracup and Susan Derges. Further back look at Samuel Palmer’s paintings of cornfields under moonlight.

Have a look at all of the work you shot and produce an edit without trails, an edit with the single red tail light, and one that is guided by “new discoveries” – something unexpected in each shot.

Take confidence from this journey but remember you need to set yourself challenges that potentially you might fail at, mistakes mean you learn something new. There are again, a number of good points that you can build on here.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

Some good reflective writing.

Suggested reading/viewing

See those above, continued engagement with contemporary and historical photographers will start to erode your default position and push you to experimentation.

Pointers for the next assignment

Keep reading and have a think about how you might use your photography to communicate, and remember you are working academically so arguments are good but they need to be backed up.


I was pleasantly surprised by this very positive feedback- I thought I hadn’t done particularly well with this assignment. In addition to the original version of the assignment, I will be doing some additional research into some of the photographers that my tutor has mentioned.

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