A3 The Decisive Moment tutor feedback

Click kate_aston_513940_assignment_3_feedback-doc to open the feedback document (opens in a new tab). As I complete the work outlined here I will update this post to provide a record of action.

I am happy with this feedback and the clear steers provided for developing and improving the work. Feedback was in the form of a Skype tutorial followed by written notes. This format works well for me. Thank you Moira.

I never tend to dwell much on the positive feedback. I am happy that I delivered “a solid response to the brief” and was “creative and thought about the decisive moment in a broad and engaged way.” I was happy that my tutor recognised the difficulty in seeking out people who were prepared to let me share some of their most private, personal and precious possessions with a far wider audience, and that my accompanying text was “well-written” and highlit the layers of meaning in the work.

Some of the images work better than others. Some suffered from the angle that I worked at, others had distracting shadows. The original work has not come back yet, however the most successful ones are shown below. In addition some suffered from distracting sensor marks, which I had not entirely fixed in post. So my actions from this are to look into copy stands and lighting before reshooting where needed, to get my sensor cleaned (this is happening at the moment) and to reshoot with better lighting and positioning. I don’t have a tripod with a horizontal arm, and I think this would help quite a lot. The digital test needs to be framed such that the text doesn’t show. I need to go in close. Moira suggested that I reshoot extensively to get enough images of high enough quality. If I can find another person to share their tests with me that would give me a set of 9 tests, making a grid. A less attractive alternative is to reduce the number of tests to 6 or 7 (the brief calls for 6-8 images but I understand this is a guide rather than an absolute stipulation).

Copy stands consist of a base, a stand for the camera and two lights which can be LED or tungsten on the ones I have looked at. I think an alternative could be to find suitable bulbs for my two Anglepoises and get a tripod with a horizontal arm. This is an example copy stand from http://www.speedgraphic.co.uk .


A very obvious thing that I missed from my writing was indexicality and how it applies to my work. Looking at Bull (2010, p14-15), I see that indexicality is the idea of a photograph as showing reality; looking at Hall (2014, p13) I learn that an indexical sign has a direct physical relationship to its subject. So we have the photographs, which are indexically linked to the tests that they show, and the tests themselves that are how they are because of how they reacted to a pregnant woman’s urine. It makes me think again of that scene in the film Juno, when Juno says that the first test looked more like a divide sign rather than a plus. Pregnancy tests are all about symbols and signs and I am still kicking myself for missing something quite so obvious.

My tutor also talked about a comment by Stefan on the blog post, where he talked about sensing the “aura of the subject matter”. Moira told me about Walter Benjamin’s work on the aura, which I have learnt a little more about. Benjamin regarded pieces of art as having an “aura” – it’s what I would consider the essence of a piece, for him it was related to the authenticity of the art. His view was that once a piece of art is reproduced, the proliferation of copies reduces the aura, and hence the power and authenticity of the work. It was interesting that Stefan could still feel the authenticity of the work, despite viewing a universally available digital copy of the original tests.

I will add more of my workings out to my blog to ensure that it can better speak for me at assessment.

It was very helpful to discuss my ideas for A4 and A5 and Moira has provided useful references for each idea. Looking through these I think I will actually go with a different idea for A4. I will however write about these references separately under the respective assignments.

Update 5/9. I chose to rephotograph two of the tests that had been highlighted as needing attention. I also edited my selection down slightly to make a more consistent edit. I took out the digital test image and another that was off in colour tone. I went in search of further tests to photograph and secured another three which I photographed. I also wanted to think hard about how to present this work for assessment. In my head, some of the images would work very well at a large scale, but I wanted to explore a more tactile presentation. I was curious about presenting the tests in a pregnancy test box. Long story short, the test boxes are not a good size to match standard print sizes, so I played around with the best crop and print size to enable me to guillotine the prints down to a suitable size, and that’s how I decided to present. I removed the text as per my tutor’s suggestion, also I didn’t think it added to the smaller presentation format.  If I had time to do more work I would learn about setting canvas sizes on Photoshop so that I could make bordered prints of the correct size, that would look better. Next time… 


Bull, S., 2010. Photography. Abingdon: Routledge.

Hall, S., 2014. This means this this means that. London: Laurence King.

Elliott, P. and Schnabel, J. (2008) Tracey Emin: 20 years. Edited by Patrick Elliot. Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland.

Bright, S. (2011) Art photography now. 2nd edn. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson.

Calle, S. and Auster, P. (2007) Sophie Calle: Double game. London: Violette Editions.






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