Thoughts on assignment 1 rework

It’s been quiet on the blog of late. I’ve been reworking assignments 2-5 and writing summary posts for assessment. They are still tucked up in Drafts at the moment. I also need to write reflective posts on Assignment 5, Part 5 and the entire course, and all of this is coinciding with the school summer holiday.

Assignments 2 through 5 were straightforward to rework. I agreed with my tutor’s comments and it is simply a case of implementing them. Assignment 1 was harder. It was the square mile one, featuring my daughter in her square mile, which because she was 8, was my square mile too. Except a year on, she has more of an opinion in how and where she’s photographed, and what she wears when I’m photographing her. Bang went my tutor’s suggestion of an Alice themed wardrobe. Bang went pretty much everything really. We gave the rework a go, and it didn’t work. No magic, just a scowling child. I discussed this with my tutor who suggested simply refreshing the edit from my archive. The archive isn’t that good though. I know that this is the “calibration” assignment, the one that doesn’t count, but the more I looked at it the more I felt that as it was it didn’t really say much about my approach to work, my willingness to rework to make it better, and how I like to work and what I like to photograph. I started to think about completely redoing the work with a different subject.

The first idea was photographing tins of peaches in different shops in the square mile. We’ll never know how well that would work (well we might I suppose if I ever have to do Square mile again). Then I looked again at the blue ribbons tied on street furniture in Devizes, for Charlie Gard. They met my preference for photographing multiple instances of the same thing, the same but different. They showed how a social media campaign can manifest itself physical in a small town many miles from the issue that it highlights.  They represent transience – the ribbons won’t be there for good – and show how the symbolism has changed from a sign of awareness and hope to a memorial. The ribbons, shiny and new not so long ago are being ripped, tampered with, worn and dirty. Yet they are still there, as much a part of my daily landscape as the shops, the streetlights, the bollards, the phone boxes and the post boxes.  They reminded me of the pregnancy tests that I photographed for A3 with the pale blue lines denoting life. They reminded me of the miscarriages that I documented on my Foundation course – and the Foundling hospital brass tokens set into the pavement near by, making loss tangible.

So I went into town last Friday evening, on an evening that had that stormy light, with my 50mm prime lens and a fresh battery. I walked around the car parks, the roads, the pedestrian alleys, and I photographed all the ribbons I saw. There are too many to include in their entirety but the contact sheets are below. I photographed close in and far out. I wondered about context versus detail. I put a selection onto the OCA critique board and considered the responses that people were kind enough to post.

Here’s my first draft set. This set will be edited slightly before submission, but not by much.

A1 rework-7586A1 rework-7596A1 rework-7613A1 rework-7632A1 rework-7647A1 rework-7678A1 rework-7684A1 rework-7665

A1 blue ribbon-1A1 blue ribbon-2A1 blue ribbon-3A1 blue ribbon-4A1 blue ribbon-5A1 blue ribbon-6A1 blue ribbon-7A1 blue ribbon-8


Assignment 5 rework

It kept on growing. Then I had a conversation with my tutor, and it got smaller, back down to one concept with a supporting cast of thousands. Then I met Holly Woodward, who’s studying Identity and Place (blog here) at Lacock and she diagnosed the problem in about three lines and half a cup of coffee. Now, the book is tighter, more logical and just feels like it’s right. It needs a fine black cord through the holes as my ribbon is too wide.

What did I change? I took the front cover off, along with the transparency inside it (it wasn’t as good as the other transparency). I removed one of the negatives from its home on watercolour paper. Again, it wasn’t as good as the other one, which remains in place. I took the film’s protective cover and made that the cover (“It’s the title! There’s your title!” as Holly said.)  I reordered, so there’s a rhythm to the pages now and a logic to each double page spread. To me, there’s a feeling of balance between the backs and the fronts, each is as important as the other. The transparent Mylar sheet, painstakingly lifted from an embossed Polaroid and generally ignored from that point on as it kept being flicked over in favour of whatever was visible through it, became the first page after the front cover. It’s in between two plain black back pages so now has to be looked at. I punched a couple of extra holes to allow pages to be flipped over and re-ordered. That last lovely transparent image can be turned in its own right, and viewed either from the front with a silver background or from the back with a cream paper background.

So next up is a condensed blog post for assessment. In the meantime, here’s a rough video of the book, minus its ribbon.


Assignment 2 rework – notes

I have mainly stayed with my tutor’s recommendations. The first book was deconstructed to make the revised one, however videos of both will be available in the assessment post.

I considered my tutor’s comments about how an edit of just the children, or just the women, might read. I decided to present the work as a sequence of paired images of the children. I do think this works better, although I am not sure why. I suppose because maybe a child faking a smile has different connotations to a woman faking a smile, though both are for the benefit of a third party.

I removed the original “outro” about “smile love, it might never happen”. I did consider my tutor’s suggestion about using it as a title, but it had too many characters for the smaller album whereas the larger album had too many pages for the set. I also removed the original “intro” and replaced it with something simpler.

I didn’t follow my tutor’s suggestion of retitling the album “Smile, it might never happen” (formerly on the outro) as Paperchase had stopped selling that size. I also like the “Give us a smile” title because (a) the smile used is portable and passable and (b) phoograph albums are typically shared by hand too.

This left me with eight trimmed passport photos of women with fake smiles, which I had removed from the album. For a while I’ve been playing around with the idea of inserting photos of real people into a dolls house context and it seemed obvious to continue with this. Practical issues appeared such as securing the right size of frame and the right scale of prints for paper and fabrics.

Here’s the first pass:

I posted one of these over on the OCA board and received the interesting comment of “domestic hegemony” which got me thinking.  I went to a local shop that sells dolls house supplies and bought a few things to ty out. I wanted to work at a slightly bigger scale. I’ve been a fan of Lauren Child’s collage work for some time, and wanted to explore layering photos and actual stuff.

Here’s the result so far. It’s a mockup so nothing is trimmed to size or glued. I need more frames that are better sized, I want to spray the wooden frame to work with the metal ones and I need to clean that mirror in the middle. I think if this did go in for assessment I’d have to include the smile prop too. I think it’s at least as promising, if not more, than the reworked album and will be asking my tutor her views tomorrow.



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