Context and Narrative

A Record of my OCA Study by Sarah Scott

Tutor Feedback and Personal Responses for A1

At the moment I’m not sure if my tutor wants me to put the entire feedback on my learning log, so until I know I’m just going to summarise what I felt were the most important positive and negative issues raised. Anything in quotes is taken directly from my feedback sheets.

Overall Comments

There are a number of complex strands running through the final project and also across the website where various exercises and activities are recorded. Each element is evidence of a committed approach with a strong sense of reflectivity coming through text work and in the images which were made. In choosing a place and how various histories might be presented and contextualized through texts and images meant that the sense of playfulness combined with a satirical edge is explored fully. Theoretical and political framing took place; and this exists within the body of the text in the printed leaflet

My tutor has broken down my feedback into several sections which we are supposed to judge ourselves on too.

Feedback on assignment: Demonstration of technical and visual skills, quality of outcome: 

Much effort in terms of research. Creating and staging some elements of re-photography explored notions of truth. All work is contextualised and framed well in terms of contextualisation and execution. Printed matter a good attempt to parody.

*Design might need to conform more to the branding guidelines set by National Trust, worthwhile exploring typographic and design elements in more detail.*

Coursework: Demonstration of technical and visual skills, demonstration of creativity

Excellent work finding activities and spaces where you explored and practiced image making. Concentrated effort in terms of camera skills and other related areas in terms of planning and logistics.

*Not sure about dog walking post* (I have removed this post now, it didn’t relate to anything).

Research: Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Some excellent personal comments in your own voice often backed up with references to web links and other journals etc. Subjective statements and references to comments by other critics and photographic commentators.

*Look at Martin Parr work that I found difficult, explore context further and frame comments in reference to current political milieu.*

Learning Log: context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Excellent and thorough thoughts and comments with links to your own blog and website pages. This shows you are connecting your work to wider framework visits and clarifies aspects of creative thinking. Conducting interviews and visiting workshops is another strength of your learning activities. Connection to personal histories and backgrounds form the basis of your practice and framing of the work to date. This sense of positionality comes through and will form a solid basis for further experimentation and reflectivity.

There is then some suggested reading/ viewing:

  •  basic grid systems/ histories that link to the comments about design:  I will write about that when I’ve read through the material, and next time I visit the National Trust I will pick up a few leaflets to examine the design in more detail.
  • Website with links to Martin Parr and how various aspects of his work can seem to contain contentious elements: I’ve read through this material and I will note it and comment on it on the learning log, providing links to my original material to place it in context. I have also tried to book onto the Martin Parr visit via the OCA on 14th December 2019. I’m not yet sure if I have a place on this visit, if I do then perhaps I may get an opportunity to clarify the issues I raised with Parr’s work in person? Obviously, I will add that to the learning log if it happens.


My Self Assessment to Criteria for work up to and including A1

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills. 

Obviously I’ve had tutor feedback about design elements of my leaflet. It’s a little frustrating because I had a particular National Trust leaflet in mind when I made mine, and it was poorly designed so mine copied that on purpose. So, I think that having tried to do that before (with A4 for EYV) and to make something purposefully not well designed, I will not try that again because it’s obviously not coming across as it’s meant to and it ends up looking like I have poor design skills, which I don’t think is the case. Having a daughter who is a graphic designer I know that my design skills, while not up to her standards, are better than many.

I think my  technical skills are improving. I used pushed film for A1, I developed it myself and I’ve started a ‘technical’ section on my learning log where I can record and show the technical skills I’m developing for both film and digital imaging as well as alternative photography techniques which I’m very keen to continue to develop. So far I’ve looked at film, and at flash techniques. I didn’t use flash for this assignment, but it’s a developing skill and I realise I’ve not recorded it fully on my learning log. I made good use of the universities’ trial of LinkedIn Learning for information about use of flash, and also made use of it for camera specific learning as Ben Long had made a video course about Fuji XT-2 cameras and I learnt a lot from that.

To be specific about the assignment itself, observational skills are good. I didn’t take many of the classic photographs I see taken of this location; I tried to be a bit more experimental, and because of the technique I was using, of pushing an ISO 400 film to 1600, I knew there were likely to be certain visual outcomes and shots were planned to take advantage of that. I wanted to question the notion of authenticity and truth in photography when comparison of digital media and film is made, and I think I managed to do that.

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

I will update the leaflet design based on the tutor feedback I have been given. However, I feel that the quality of outcome is good, the images are appropriate to the leaflet so the presentation of the work is coherent and works well.

Demonstration of Creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention.

Documentary photography does not appeal to me as a genre, and so I really wanted to try to do something a bit different while still fulfilling the brief given in the course materials. I have documented my initial thoughts and experiments with this assignment, and I think many of them could have been completed successfully. However, this particular idea seemed more imaginative and experimental, and I wanted to contextualise the work using text and images, drawing on the research and reading I had been doing, especially on the work of Joan Fontcuberta.

Context – Reflection, research, critical thinking.

Because of the way my tutor has allowed me to work, I was able to explore and complete a lot more research than usual for this assignment and that really helped me. I like to revisit ideas and I was able to revisit and refine ideas for A1 and explore a lot further than I otherwise could have done were I required to fit into a strict timetable of assignment dates.

I have recorded my research on the learning log and provided links where appropriate. On my last course I was not using the exercises in the text to inform the assignments; during this course I have made a specific focused effort to do that, and to record it. I have  provided a lot of evidence of critical thinking, by being more expressive in terms of my own personal responses to various photographers and photographic essays, and have evidenced the research I have conducted when reaching those conclusions.


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