Category Archives: Assignment 3

Reflection on Assignment 3 – Tutor feedback

I have pasted below my Tutor’s comments on assignment 3, highlighting and annotating the points that I need to act upon:

Overall Comments

Your topic has great merit in terms of a complex (life-) story that has plenty of human interest: Kelly’s situation and determination generate empathy with the viewer. The brief suggests ‘not a day in the life’ and, although it does seem to err towards that style, they appear to cover a wider period. Overall I felt there was a clear engagement with a story in the text, whereas the images seemed more passive. The images are quite similar in technical terms, i.e. many have flash on camera, Kelly in middle distance, similar focal lengths used etc. If you have images with more variety that could be swapped in – of lighting, shooting height and scale for example – that could create a variation in pace in the sequence.

I am guessing that the ‘explanatory text’ featured in your log is your commentary. *If so then this should be in the PDF with the images. The text tells us the story that you want to convey. I’d suggest including comments on how you are conveying that story through the images, so that the text is also about the images, rather than the same story as the images, told in parallel.

*I misunderstood my tutor’s advice  when I emailed him on this point.

Feedback on assignment

The strength of the assignment is in the topic and the story this tells. The images support that story and illustrate it. *What I’d like to see more of is engagement with the subject(s) and timing of images that captures Kelly’s interactions with others – the decisive moments. What I mean by engagement is that some images show peoples’ backs (e.g. studio and calendar), or Kelly looks away (D/A). Looking away, at something we can see, tells a story. Looking off into the distance leaves us wondering what they’re looking at. In modern portraiture (e.g. Taylor Wessing competition) this is a popular style, but they’re portraits, not documentary storytelling.

*At the moment , my plan is to reshoot some of the images if I have the opportunity to go the the studio again with Kelly. I have contacted her to see what new opportunities there may in the coming weeks.

Some distractions take my eye away from the story e.g. *the TV and that bright green wall. If those could be excluded by camera position, or by editing that would improve the thrust of the images. There may well be others in your original set that would be better in this respect. In other images the engagement is clear, e.g. a great shot with the kids that looks completely natural, and the final image that also has an ‘observational’ mood, rather than a posed one. Better positioning for the stage shot could have separated the two people, as with excluding bright lights and screens in the next shot.

*The green wall was unavoidable and I could see that it was a distraction. The TV screen  was included  deliberately as my attempt to show that Kelly not only has to engage her audience but she has to compete for attention. Clearly this did not come across.

There is a greater camera-to-subject distance in some of the images that contrasts with the closer pictures. What I’d suggest is an edit of the images you took *to shift the balance to increase the ratio of closer shots. Retain two or three images taken with Kelly at a distance, or in the middle-distance for variety, but the rest could be closer. You may find that you could crop existing images to do that, rather than re-shoot. If you have images taken with (more) natural light, or with bounced flash these will look better than those with flash on camera, which is a harsh light.

* There are some crops that I can make and some opportunities to reshoot.

Overall I think the story and the (original) images are strong, but I’m less sure about the final edit. I feel there is perhaps a better set with more variety and engagement to be had from your sessions.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

*In your reflections on this assignment you state that ‘I consider myself to have good visual awareness and technical skills’. What the assessors will be looking for in your reflection is slightly different from this: it’s how you think that your assignment rates for these criteria. The log entry is a reflection on the assignment, not on your skills in general. I’m not sure I’ve explained that particularly well, so if that bit doesn’t make sense then please let me know and we can have a chat about it.

In the outcome section, Kelly’s story dominates that comment, rather than the ability of the images to convey that story, i.e. does the set of images and captions ‘do what they say on the tin’ (to paraphrase the Ronseal ads!). Again, it’s the outcome of the assignment (words and images as a photo project) we’re looking for here, rather than the extent of the completion of the assignment, or the subject’s story.

I’m not sure what you mean in the comments on creativity – is this a plan for the future, to rework with more creativity? You conclude with a good summary of contextual research, which is steadily improving. If you can relate comments on this to your own work, so that the two are interacting more, rather than in parallel, that would be even better.

* I will look again at my reflection on the assignment once I have re-edited it.

I understand your despair at academic language! Nobody expects you to understand all of this as you read it. If you did then that would indicate you were on a course that was too easy for you. Accumulating ideas (and the associated vocabulary) is part of education. Re-reading texts from the first year whilst in your final year will show just how much you’ve advanced over that period: they will seem like completely different beasts!

Suggested reading/viewing

Take a look at *Art Photography Now by Susan Bright (published by Thames and Hudson, 2011). I also suggest taking a look at an interview with Andreas Feininger for insights into lighting and lens perspectives.

*I own a copy of this book and I reviewed it  for  Digital Photographic Practice. I will look at it again to remind me.

Andreas Feininger’s film was interesting.  The interviewer asked several questions about technique and design to which Feininger gave some illuminating answers in particular related to black and white photography and contrast. His illustration of the effects of  focal length on perspective   were also effective.

Pointers for the next assignment

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.

There are ‘how to do an essay’ pages online and in books. I’d only recommend looking at them to see the level of a 2nd year BA essay. Have a look at the OCA Academic essay writing study guide, which is available as a downloadable PDF from the resource area of

Tutor name:

Derek Trillo



Next assignment due



I knew when I submitted this assignment that I would have more work to do to it . I have found Derek’s feedback very constructive and will made the changes that he suggested. I have a fairly short deadline for assignment 4 and I also want to improve assignment 3 before I start planning for assignment 5.


Assignment 3 – Notes on additional images for future editing

The local press coverage I was waiting for arrived today. Took this with my phone  as a reminder of the sort of image I need to make, perhaps add a mobile phone with earphones or perhaps one of Kelly’s fans reading the paper and listening on MP3 player/phone.


Assignment 3 – progress update 3rd May 2015

Assignment 3 – Visual storytelling

Using MS Publisher I have produced a PDF document which consists of a title cover page and ten captioned photographs to tell my story. I have uploaded this to my Drop Box folder and will send the link to my tutor by email.

Explanatory text

Kelly Peffers, singer, songwriter, actor, wife and mother – Virtually Famous

On the 3rd April I introduced my ideas for this project and my original scenarios for shooting have by and large, been followed. My own brief was to show how a young mother copes with her interests and family while carving out a career in a difficult and demanding industry. Kelly has been performing since the age of 16. She is regular concert goer and has  performed at an after show party attended by Noel Gallagher. She describes her musical style as “folk with attitude” and I have seen her perform spontaneously with her ukulele in the street and to commuters on the train. She told me recently that she had received a call from a local radio station as a result of one of these performances. Kelly writes her own songs, and with her husband, manages and generates her own publicity on the internet, via her own website and using social media.  Downtown Artists auditioned Kelly originally, saw she had talent and are producing and promoting  her as a recording artist. What has become apparent to me is just how much self-promotion is required and how most of that is done on line through social media. When her first single “I’m an Alien” is released on 4th July, it will only be available on the customary music download sites. Kelly uses on-line community and international radio stations to get her message across. It is obvious that she thoroughly enjoys her musical talent and has the ambition to succeed. I wish her luck.

Reflection on assignment

Demonstration of technical and visual skillsmaterials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.

Quality of outcomecontent, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.

Demonstration of creativityimagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

Contextreflection, research, critical thinking (learning logs, critical reviews and essays).

I have considered my work against the course assessment criteria above and made the following observations:

In conceiving, executing and presenting this assignment, my images show that I have the technical skills to work in a variety of conditions both in terms of differing lighting and physical space. I have chosen a variety of viewpoints and camera angles, used flash and ambient light together to good effect.

The brief was to produce a photo story of 10 images and I have done this quite well with my second edit of the project. I have introduced Kelly as a wife and mother whose life is punctuated with live performances, recordings, radio interviews, culminating in the release of her first single. I have tried to reflect Kelly’s relaxed outlook on life in the style of my photography. Although most of the shots are posed in that she is aware of the camera, she always appears at ease and has a wonderful sense of humour.

I have tried to be as original and creative as I can but I’m not really the best person to judge this. Each photo story is unique and I have told this one as I saw it. I’ve certainly used my imagination to visualise the story and extract it from dozens of photographs taken over seven or eight sessions. I have directed Kelly and her children in their daily activities but I have not manufactured any scenarios, all of these events were happening, whether I was there or not. It is also gratifying to have had a couple of photographs from my sessions with Kelly, used in the local press.

I think I have done more reading and research for this section of the course than before. I still struggle to understand some of the work referenced and despair at  the academic language used in some of the essays. I continue to attend OCA study visits, make personal visits to galleries and find the interaction with fellow students at the Thames Valley study group invaluable.

Assignment 3 progress update – 1st May 2015

These are screenshots of a couple of the images that I have allowed Kelly to use for her publicity campaign to publicise and promote the release of her single on 4th July. I was anticipating the Plymouth Herald story coming out in the local Bordon papers this weekend but it seems something else has priority. (Can’t think what!) Below this I have included “Contact Sheets” of some other images showing aspects of Kelly’s life which I may include in my final edit. I will only include images of Kelly with her children in my final “Book Dummy” pdf. As I want to include the release of her single in my story and my assignment is now due, I have told my tutor that I will submit a “finished” version to him early next week and submit  an edited version in response to his feedback at assessment later in the year.




Contact sheets from the “I saw Kelly Peffers” promo event


Contact Sheets from The George “Open Mike” Night


Contact Sheets of Kelly working on her designs and during her interview with Chat and Spin Radio


I am hoping to put together my “Final” edit and submit the assignment to my tutor on 4th May.

Assignment 3 Visual storytelling – Preparation and first images

I emailed my tutor on 9th March with my initial idea for the assignment. He replied with some advice:

“This sounds like an interesting opportunity. You’ll certainly get useful feedback from Jesse and others at the meeting – try to go with some ideas and any examples you have. You could look through documentary projects that follow a person, or a group and take examples of the type of projects that interest you. Look up ‘country doctor’ and ‘Minimata’ by W Eugene Smith, Gordon Park’s Harlem: Classic photo essays that are predominantly from the heyday of 1950s magazine articles such as Picture Post and Life show the variety of styles, subject matter and interpretations that can be used within the framework of a photo essay. For later styles look at the work of Joel Sternfeld and Paul Reas .

My advice before shooting would be to get to know Kelly (without taking up too much of her time!). From these discussions you can hopefully agree on a theme, or a thread, that can interest both of you and give Kelly a sense that you are telling her story, as much as your own. That sense of agency will be important for her to feel that you are with her in a joint project, and it will give you a common ground to explore.”

I found time to research the bodies of work that Derek mentioned and found them a good reference for a starting point. I also researched the early work of Astrid Kirchherr, famous for her photographs of the Beatles during their early career in Germany:

  I was not able to discuss my work at the study group as I had nothing to show at that time although I had found the time to talk to Kelly about the project. She responded by giving me a schedule for a visit to London  and the recording studio on 31st March. This was useful and provided some photographs as a starting point. For various reasons she was not able to busk on this day and when she returned home she went away with her family for the Easter weekend. I processed and edited the images I had taken and I am thinking about the other images I need to take of Kelly’s life in the coming weeks. Here are a selection of the images I made on 31st March:


#KellyPeffers @kellypeffers #downtownartist #playstudio

Kelly has a local gig on 19th April and I am trying to arrange to take photographs of her busking locally and relaxing at home with her husband and children. I already have some images of Kelly at the Phoenix Theatre rehearsing for “Wyrd Sisters”. I hope that before my assignment deadline, I will be able to take some pictures in costume.


#KellyPeffers @kellypeffers #downtownartist #playstudio

21 April 2015

Kelly has used two of my photos for her promotional piece in the Plymouth Herald:

Assignment 3 Visual storytelling – First ideas

With the course work out of the way, these are my initial thoughts on assignment 3. I have recently met a young female singer/songwriter called Kelly Peffers who is a member of our local drama group. As well as being a full time mother of three children and a military wife, she is about to  release her first single, performs in venues locally and in Devon and busks on the London Underground. She has agreed that I can follow her around with my camera over the next four to six weeks so that I can tell her story.

The brief for the assignment calls for 10 images to be presented as a pdf book dummy with a brief explanatory text. I want to be able to tell her story. To do that, I need to consider photographs of  the following:

  • Domestic environment,  background husband, children etc.
  • Rehearsal
  • Busking
  • Studio recording
  • Performance