Following my tutors feedback I decided there were a few images in the series that I either wanted to reshoot, or remove from the set.
The passing ‘flat composition’ comment made things a lot clearer for me. Suddenly images such as the street scene became obvious misfits and I wanted to replace them. Equally I found myself rethinking images that I had wanted to include in my original set but wasn’t happy with the final photograph enough to use, such as an image of a foliage covered wall . I wondered if I could reshoot these to create a more coherant set of images.
Reviewing first shoot again
I thought more about the ‘why’ of my photographs. What made me settle on that image, and why did I take it in the first place. I thought about the below selection of images that I photographed, before finally settling on including the last one. I wanted to photograph the sign as it’s a bit of a talking point locally, but as I approached and started to take images, it quickly became apparent that it needed a prominent position within the frame. Originally I was drawn to a central position to make it the only thing in the image, but I realised that it would have more impact with the sign pointing into the negative space within the frame, almost instructing the viewer to only look left. As you move across the photograph there is a little interest in the light post and a glimpse of the pub behind, but not enough for them to become the subject of the image, and you’re almost left wanting to be able to look even further left that the photograph allows, and the sign instructs you to do.
As I looked through the original selection I also felt there were other images that didn’t fit within the set.
One was the image I had discussed at length with my tutor; the railings outside the shop. I wasn’t happy with the composition, it just didn’t seem to work as an angle. I went back to the spot to reshoot it but I couldn’t see a better way of shooting it and decided to omit it from the set altogether in favour of another image.
The other was the cafe image. It didn’t work to me with part of the sign cut off and my reflection in the window. I hoped to find a stronger image from the reshoot, or by revisiting the first shoot. In the end I replaced it with a reshoot of the foliage image I had wanted to originally include.
Upon reviewing the first shoot contact sheet again I decided I wanted to include one of my post-box images. I had originally taken the photo because it always irks me when I post anything that the last collection is 9am! When taking the image by chance the local postman walked behind. I tried to quickly capture him within the image but felt I didn’t quite get the shot. Upon reviewing this and with a couple of tweaks to straighten it through editing, I decided to include this in place of the railings image.
By chance by the time I went back out to reshoot the lovely foliage I wanted to have another go at had turned a beautiful red in places which made for a more interesting image. I knew I wanted to photograph the interesting – yet very typical of this area – wall being overtaken by the plants, and I knew I wanted a more flat-on photograph. I really love the way the different textures of the brick, the patterned blocks and the leaves all work together, as well as the way the green from the climbing plant is echoed through the image in the gaps of the patterned blocks, and red is also (almost) in the bricks. I feel this sits within the series much better than the café image it replaces, and is a stronger photograph than the original view down the length of the wall. Frustratingly on reviewing the images I realised that this viewpoint was not as flat-on to the wall as I had thought, but looking through the series of photographs I shot for it, I felt like that image had the best layout and was the flattest of the group.
I still really wanted a street scene image that showed a typical view of my road. While I love the junction image from the first set of images, that was more about shapes, and I wanted to portray what the street that I live on and walk down every day actually looks like. My first attempt at this with the view along the road with the cars, wheelie bin and boat just lacked any oomph and I didn’t enjoy looking at it. I took a few shots looking down the middle of the road to try and create a feeling of movement down the street and through the image, with a balanced – almost symmetrical – composition. Of these images I liked the one which had cars facing me on both sides. Not only did this feel like the most balanced and interesting composition, it felt like the most true reflection of what driving up my road feels like, which is further emphasised by the ‘oncoming’ cars.
I also wanted to reshoot the concrete posts image, as I really wanted to show how the one bollard in particular is out of line. These bollards have all obviously taken knocks over the years, but the fact one is so far out of alignment has always caught my eye. I really struggled to capture this as to me the obvious way to do this was to look down the row and see the one sticking out, but in reality this looked awful! I thought back to one of the first exercises in the course and how diagonal lines through an image are strong and powerful, and so I feel the final image I made finally showed what I was aiming for. The line of bollards clearly leads through the image, and the leaning one is quite jarring as it disrupts the eyes journey down the line. I wasn’t sure how this would sit within the other images with its leading lines but actually I think it sits well along with the photographs such as the street scene and the beryl bikes with their diagonal and repeating lines. I also think the flatness of the side profile of the car flattens the image helping it sit well in the series.
Lastly, one of my favourite images is that of the bins and cages outside the local shop. My tutor pointed out that actually it wasn’t quite flat or perfectly lined up; something I had overlooked, but once I’d seen I couldn’t un-see! I went back to the spot to try and reshoot it, but the things I love so much about this image were no longer there. I love the way the blue is continued across the image, from the pallet, through the bin to the lid of the commercial waste bin. Then there’s the yellow of the cage that’s echoed through the yellow of the weeds, and even in the foliage of the pruned tree in the background. I love the weeds desperately growing through the concrete and the drain, the barely legible white graffiti each side of the cages and the juxtaposition between the neatness of the tree in the background with the rubbish and ‘urban decay’ surrounding the bins. I tried to slightly tweak it through editing to straighten it and align it better, but it still would have been much better to get it right ‘in camera’. While I thought this was an image that was always present when I walk past daily, it turns out this was a one off opportunity to capture these elements together in this way. And the fact that I now realise I could have made a better image of this will bug me for a long time to come!
All in all I found I learnt a lot through this assignment. Firstly; photography really isn’t simple! But also I learnt a lot about the way that I photograph; that a lot of it is instinctual, and actually sometimes slowing it down, not only in the technical aspects of how I make the photograph, but most importantly why I’m making the photograph, is a hugely important part of the process.
I feel this assignment has been the most significant for me in terms of looking at my work with a greater understanding of what I want to achieve, and how I can get that across in my images. Up until now I feel like a lot of what I have been doing is trying to just fulfil a brief and complete the exercise / assignment almost as a tick box exercise. Each step a long the way has definitely taught me more about photography as a genre each time, but I found it was this assignment which I went into a little more openly – with a deliberately vague idea of just experimenting without the pressure of outcome – has really been the piece that has taught me the most about my own photography so far.
A huge part of that was the particularly constructive discussion with my tutor that has really helped me feel more comfortable in running with my thoughts while not letting myself get carried away with overthinking about what I need to submit. Instead I now feel more comfortable experimenting, reviewing, reworking and re-finishing where necessary which is something I think I’ve struggled with to date. I hope this will see me in good stead in future units, and even though I am changing course, I feel this creative process will now stay with me going forward.
I later chose to use this assignment as an example of my creative work. My presentation can be found here:
In this presentation I chose to display these images ina graphical nature. This was a hint towards my next steps on my degree, but also I wanted to make the display less about the photos themselves, just as when I set out on this assignment my plan was to think less about the image and more about the process. I wanted to keep the presentation simple and uncluttered with text, with links to further reading if desired.