documentary photography, dummy book, immigration, photobook, photography, portfolio review

Portfolio Review by photographers Richard Kelly and Garry Clarkson

Following the talk by our latest guest speaker Richard Kelly, we’ve had an opportunity to share with him our work and get feedback. Garry Clarkson also joined us, and we’ve had a chance to hear what he has to say about our work.

I showed my latest dummy book.

Feedback form Richard Kelly

According to Kelly, my project looks very good and I have some strong portraiture with very good lighting. His favourite was the first and second portraiture in the top raw, middle image in the third raw and the bottom left. The middle image on the top reminds him of Richard Billingham’s Ray’s a Laugh. He likes the photographs, as they show real people and emotions, as there is a story, people are thinking, imagining the future, appear hopeful, the viewer feels a connection to them. He also advised me to add more images of their personal stuff or something connected to them, as those little motives, symbolic photographs says a lot about the owner.

Both Kelly and Clarkson agreed that the images with dead pan face expression made in the subjects’ work environment are slightly emotionless and that I should get rid of them. As they don’t fit to the flow of the book, they appear as visual statistics, editorial work, from tabloids, photojournalism, newspapers or magazines when I am trying to show the opposite.

Feedback from Garry Clarkson

Clarkson said that my book shows the everyday beauty and experience, the positive representation of immigration and humanising them. He stated that the last image in the top raw is too commercial, without the contexts and with missing metaphor, so the viewer moves away. He said that I have good environmental portraits around subjects’ homes and works; with subtle light and contrast of different gazes. Similarly to Kelly, Clarkson likes the emotive images with subtle, window light best, so as the one with dog next to the person, as he claims it signifies “when the space become the place” and the identity. Garry Clarkson adds that those images elevate away from statistical and news photographs, crates emotional connections and good feelings when looking at them. He told me to add images of more personalised items, or to add something symbolic that portrays the struggle people went through.

We spoke about the title, Bloody Foreigners? according to Clarkson “reinforcing the prejudice”. He said that the title shouldn’t be too descriptive, “don’t reveal everything, don’t reveal the magic”, let the viewer interpret and make their own story, the more you hold back the more people will invest. He then said, “I am jealous, a lot of work in here”. Wow, thanks Garry!

With only 7 weeks left to the deadlines, I need to take the advice in consideration when completing my final project. Within 7 weeks I must design and print a book, choose prints for the exhibition in April and for the final exhibition, also prepare final presentation, write critical research summary for my major project and professional practice. Is this even possible?

I will carry on writing the blog and share with you all I’ve done, and the meetings/portfolio reviews I attended until the end of uni. Then I will have some other stories…

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Portfolio Review by very talented photographers – Silvana Trevale and Tom Duffield

Last Friday, as part of our innovation week we’ve had a few photographers visiting our university. Each of us (final year photography students) could choose up to two of them for a portfolio review and a chance to talk about our major projects. The list of photographers who visited uni: Silvana Trevale, Karina Lax, Mario Popham, Sophie Traynor, Jack Greenwood and Tom Duffield. It was difficult to decide, as they are all very interesting people and brilliant photographers however, I chose Silvana Trevale and Tom Duffield, even though they saw my work before.

I chose Silvana, as she specializes in portraiture and working on personal project about Venezuela’s people and their struggle in the country which face financial, political and social crisis. I selected Tom Duffield, as he published an amazing book about his own family living on a small farm. The Whole House is Shaking explores family members emotional echo, a result of living with and later without the father who was a heroin addict. Tom mixes portraitures with still life and text to tell his story, it seems as a landscape of the everyday. I feel as I struggle to find something interesting apart from portraitures to tell my story about immigration, therefore I believed that he could help me out. I showed my dummy book and a few stories hand written by some of the subjects I photographed.

The feedback form Silvana Trevale

According to Trevale “Dog fits with the subject, as the subject looks as a lonely soul for me.” I told Trevale that now I am concentrating on each person as a human being, not just a person who works and contributes to the UK’s economy. She said that “the little girls’ photographs look too commercial, as they are too cute and doesn’t necessarily fit with the rest of the aesthetics. The girl from the end of a book is beautifully lit”. “Try to photograph differently, maybe without them looking at you, so it won’t be too cute”. “You work nice with the environment. You shot a lot since I last saw you. The images of lights could mean that everyone is form different places”. I also asked Trevale to write her own story as an immigrant and she did. Thank you for that. The last portrait with the cross on the wall is Trevale’s favourite. She said that “It’s a good idea to include some portraits with the story, or just a portrait or just a story, as it will help to build up the whole thing”. Her advice was to “keep shooting”. “I like the serious faces best, but you kept the genuine look of people and even that they are smiling it works”.

Tom Duffield’s feedback

“Very interesting project with ongoing issue and Brexit, it become more relevant. Your portraitures developed”. About the image of a man with picture frame above “there is a level of symmetry, the frame in the background intersects with his eye, brings focal point to his eye which is really interesting, strong portrait”. I asked what I should looked at apart from making portraiture to create narrative. Duffield asked “What I am interested with? I said that “the only thing that interest me was their lights or photo frames. As the light shines in their homes and not everyone has chandeliers”. He showed me that one of the portrait (the one with man and photo frame on the wall) “would look good with the image of ashtray and cigarette. As he looks uncertain about the future or as he is waiting for something”. Duffield asked me “What particular you are interested in immigration?” I said that “Immigrants has been discriminated and blamed for just about everything what is wrong in this country, and that I am trying to show that the truth isn’t like this”. I told him about the hand-written stories I am planning to add to the book. He said that I should put portrait along the story to correspond, or if I don’t have a portraiture but a story, then I should add the story next to the light, or something more abstract next to it, or place it on the blank page. The strongest portraits are the ones with natural lights, window light, simple background, nice skin tones. The last image “gives sense of religion”, the additional image of a light hitting the wallpaper – “change white balance”. He pointed out the image of a man with picture frame as its “slightly warm, a bit green, change white balance. If you want consistency, change it to a similar tone. Colour balance and tint and always the most important. About the first portraiture with lady on the bed “Really nice portraiture, nicely lit, painting-ly feel to it, nice composition how she fills the frame. In sense of visual strategies this is very successful portrait, more engaging, beautiful, natural, unguarded and honest”. Duffield also advised me to add description about every photographed person’s work to show how they valued to the country, how they contribute, or photograph their uniform, qualification certificate, or the tools they are using in their work. To show they have a level of expertise and that they contribute something. The project is looking very good and will be nice on the wall.

Thank you guys, I appreciate your feedback.

If you would like to see Trevale or Duffield’s works have a look at their website, I think they are both brilliant photographers with a lovely personality.

silvanatrevale.com

thomasduffield.com