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Portfolio review by Karina Lax and Sian Bonnell

As part of our Friday mornings group portfolio reviews this time we were joined by Karina Lax. Firstly, Lax said that I have a interesting name for a photographer. It may sound exciting, but she doesn’t know the real meaning of my surname and I didn’t tell her (exactly it means an “orphan”, but it also used to call somebody “walking disaster” and I truly hate it). Coming back to my portfolio, Lax was impressed with my work and picked up a few of my best portraiture. However, she pointed out a few which aren’t best. She added that I should always think about the context, subjects face expressions, their hand gestures and keep an eye on the composition, so there won’t be any distractions (she said it as one of my subject is dressed in dirty clothing and has his hand in his pocked, what means that he is insecure or somehow distress and that I should edit it to look clean; however, I replied that he is a farmer and that’s the message I want to communicate). Lax suggested that I have a lot of portraiture and should add more conceptual images to create the narrative about the subjects and their story. She recommended to experiment with the edit and mixed up subject’s stuff and pair them up with the person they don’t belong to (this is the second person who suggested this, and I must say I like the idea). She recommended to look at some photographer’s work: Liz Hingley for lighting and narratives and Tom Hunter for his staged narratives

If you would like to see Karina Lax’s work check out her website: http://www.karinalax.com

On Friday afternoon Sian Bonnell was our guest speaker. She talked about her photographic journey right from the university, until now, 40 years as a practitioner. She shared her story about going back to photography when she became mother; she paid a child minder to look after her children and went out to create her artistic images. Mainly juxtaposed household item in the landscape (biscuits cutters, jellies etc), or used food and domestic items to recreate landscapes for example: ham on the wall. She plays with boundaries and mixing reality with fantasy. This kind of photography has not much to do with mine however, I am glad to be part of this talk; as Bonnell has a great personality, made us laugh all the way and gave us an important lesson. She suggested that we should not take it personally when people criticize our work (she said that the older she gets, the less care she became about what other people say). That we should love our work as if we don’t, it won’t be any good, but if we do, that’s when best work will arise. She believes that the camera is her partner in crime and makes her behave badly. Photography for Bonnell isn’t a subject but a tool for translation, it has philosophy. Bonnell also tried self-portraiture, where she reperformed painting’s gesture or her state of mind. The funniest story she told us was where she got commissioned for children surrealism and when she created a scene of crime, she got rejected. I am glad to have a pleasure to meet her for her creativity and lovely personality.  

After the guest speaker, some students and I met Sian in our base room. We’ve had a chance to talk to her and to show our works. According to Sian my work is good and interesting. Bonnell suggested that I need to add a lot of text for my photo book, as pictures can’t express everything what I am trying to communicate to the audience. Bonnell recommended to add newspapers articles, headings about Brexit or other fictional headlines. She also gave me a few photographers to consider researching Rosie Martin, Tom Duffield, Jo Spence, Sian Davey, Mathew Finn and Guy Martin-Syria.

If you interested to see Sian Bonnell’s work have a look at her website: http://www.sianbonnel.com/

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