Assignment 4 – The critical review – planning

I’ve copied my tutor’s guidance notes here. I have never written a critical review before so I want to gather all of my resources into one place:

I know you’ve picked a good topic for your critical enquiry. See what you can research around the topic and get a flavour of the different opinions on that topic to form your own opinion(s). Start with a plan and your ‘findings’. The plan sets out what you want to say and why, written as simple statements/arguments: probably no more than about 9 sentences (otherwise you’re writing the essay before you’ve planned it). This will give you the structure. Then you fill in the gaps with your research/findings. Do an introduction and conclusion afterwards: when you know what you’re saying.


I have read through the OCA’s guide to the critical review and after some initial confusion over what a critical review is (only being told what it isn’t seems to give the student more freedom – I may be wrong) I have concluded that there needs to be a consistency between what is in the course notes, the document “Academic Essay Writing” and the “Visual Arts Critical Review” document.

I got the idea for my review from Jeff Mermelstein’s reaction to the Metropolitan Police’s London Poster campaign of 2008, reported during an interview with journalist Linton Chiswick;

‘Street photography is an important part of the documentation of our time. If that’s discouraged, in the long term that will be a substantial loss. Some of the most significant images in any art medium in the last 150 years have been made in the street by people like Cartier-Bresson and Diane Arbus and Robert Frank.’  (Howarth & McLaren, 2010:11)

Here is my proposed title:

In a decade that has seen increased terrorist threats at home and abroad and heavy handed attempts by the Police service in the UK to restrict the legitimate activities of photographers, is street photography still valid as tool for documenting our time?

            • Is Mermelstein’s view shared and is there more optimism in 2015?
  • What have  the rapid changes in technology over the past decade meant for the genre?
    • Have terrorist threats changed the public perception of street photography and what do we mean by the term? Look into the history of the genre to define it.
    • If this is the case, is there anything that can be done to encourage a more tolerant attitude and an acceptance that it is a vital part of the recording of our culture?
    • “We are all photographers now”. Does this statement have an impact on attitudes?
    • How do these perceived restrictions affect my photography?
    • Research the blogs/websites of UK practitioners to reveal attitudes.
    • Research the In Public group.

The main source for my research is ‘Street Photography Now’  and various sources on  the internet. Howarth and McLaren’s book appears to be one of the most up to date digests of the genre. Coupled with the rich sources on the  In Public group website, I should be able to find enough material for my review. I have found Eric Kim’s website useful  and while I have reserved a copy of Bystander by Colin Westerbeck and Joel Meyerowitz from the Library, I have relied on Eric Kim’s references to the book to guide my research but It is unlikely that I shall receive it in time to finish this review.

I’ve shared the critical review document with my tutor via drop box on 24th July 2015.

Personal Project for Assignment 5

I emailed my tutor today  (26/07/15) with a brief outline of my proposal for Assignment 5

The project  I have in mind would be to undertake a walk from my present home to my childhood home (a distance of  35-40 miles) via  sites of personal, historical and family interest along the route. My idea is to try and show the places that have been included my life and my family’s history and for some reason remain significant. Walking the route (approximating the one that I drive regularly but using linked public footpaths and bridleways) will bring me closer to the locations that have made an impact on me, and  inspire my photography. Generally the idea was well received at the TV group. I will continue my research submit my proposal and self directed brief in due course.


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