Assignment 5 self assessment

Note – this was written after I followed up my tutor’s feedback comments and hence covers two iterations of the work.

a5 self assessment

I spent a lot of time on A5 and I believe doing so has paid dividends. I am very grateful to my tutor who helped me to find direction and focus when it looked like extending too far beyond the “Photography is simple” brief. Paradoxically, this was achieved by exploring yet more areas which guided me back to what mattered for this submission.

Technical and Visual Skills

I started out with working with Polaroids, with no clear subject in mind other than simply to explore. Over the weeks and months I continued to work with Polaroids, deconstructing and tampering with them, but I also added in macro work with my DSLR to record temporary moments of colour change, floating emulsions in water, mounting work in acrylic, and scanning and displaying images on other obsolete technology (a Nokia 3310 as part of the rework). Always in my mind was the need to make something that was visually appealing, that was interesting. This set used different skills to those in A4 – using a Polaroid camera and exploring a range of manual and digital processes that were new to me.


Quality of outcome

I explored a range of outcomes and settled on a book and an acrylic block containing a translucent emulsion of the Fox Talbot window. I was also very happy with my other outcomes – digital macro shots, scans of Polaroid fronts and backs and then these scans transferred onto a phone, but took on board my tutor’s comment about not taking too many formats forward to assessment. Everything else remains open for further development of course.


Demonstration of creativity

I was thrilled with my work here. I wanted to explore the Polaroid format extensively, and felt I did so, credibly. Tutor feedback led to me exploring it further still, something which at first, I didn’t think I had in me. I am thrilled that what started out as a disappointing attempt to die-cut a Polaroid has turned into a credible and interesting piece of work that to some small degree pays tribute to William Fox Talbot. Credit and thanks are due to Clive on the OCA discussion board who spotted the potential in what I considered to be a bit of a damp squib. This led to a subject – Lacock Abbey windows – and the creativity ballooned from then on.


There was plenty of context available on the various Polaroid manipulations and manipulators out there, although I did not find any work that included embossing. Equally, there’s a raft of work and writing about Fox Talbot. My first submission, as my tutor commented, was very strong on theoretical context but rather less so on visual context. Following up her suggestions helped to fire my creativity and continue to work with a surer footing in terms of where my work sits within the contemporary canon.


Self assessment

I’m still a bit stunned that A5 is finished. It seems to have been here for ages, we’d got used to each other’s company. It’s over, but I’m not finished.

What went well?

I feel as if my technical skills are improving, though this has not necessarily been the project to showcase them. Exercise 5.2 was a watershed moment, and I am happy with the jpgs of the Polaroid backs. I’m even reasonably happy with the picture side of the polaroids, they worked well in black and white and carry the mood of early photography. I’m happy with the work creatively too. I tried absolutely everything that occurred to me, some ideas worked, some didn’t, but I feel as if I explored it from the inside out, and extensively (not completely, there is always more). It feels like my work too.

What didn’t go so well?

Decisions! Well the easy ones were fine. This is going to sound like an ungrateful complaint but sometimes it felt like I could barely keep up with my ideas, which is probably a good thing as it took me to some interesting creative spaces, but I do wonder which bit of my brain is in charge sometimes. I’m aware of a lack of polish on the physical work too. One of the acrylic blocks didn’t clean up too well after I decided against the emulsion lift on it… I should have bought a spare. I could have done with more polaroids too, as I used quite a few testing out techniques and making test books. Contact sheets caught me out, I should have photographed them as I went.

What would I do differently?

Everything identified above. I want to continue developing this work, the next step is photographing emulsion lifts in water to show motion, both sides, and the light through the image.

review against assessment criteria

Reflection against assessment criteria

A4 self-review

Once again I feel as if it’s my technical skills holding me back.  Composition and focus are two I need to pay more mind too. I’m happy with how I realised the work, it did what I wanted and didn’t look like a generic set of phone boxes in villages. It felt like a set and I’m happy with that, the colours and the light were consistent.

I am happy with the way my creative skills are developing, I’m learning to explore ideas with test shoots and just to keep on exploring until I find an area that works for me.

For context I took a slightly different approach on research, based on the feeling that I already had enough, and the curiousity as to how my work would turn out when it was informed by curiousity rather than scrabbling down the back of the internet. In a way this feels slightly as if I didn’t do enough… but I don’t know… what else would I have added?