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

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Talk and portfolio review by our Guest speaker Theo Simpson

Yesterday, Theo Simpson visited our university and gave us a fantastic talk about his practise.

Firstly, Simpson talked about another photographers’ work who influenced his practise. William Christenberry’s Green Warehouse, 1978 was one of the first image which made Simpson realise that he wants to become a photographer. To be able to use his visual language in communication. According to Simpson this image isn’t just a depiction of a green house, but the photographer’s dedication to the subject matter, as he became friend with the owner and for 25 years, he returned to the place every year to photograph it again and again and again. John Smith’s photographs inspired Simpson in a way that he realised that the photographer doesn’t have to travel the world to create amazing work. As Smith made his work in his door step, no further that 3 miles away for his house. Paul Graham’s Beyond Caring, 1986 gave Simpson the idea of how powerful the photography could be within communication in the world. Graham couldn’t photograph in job centre, but somehow, he manages to use his large format to make a very powerful photograph which carries historical context of high unemployment in the UK.

When Simpson finished university, he became one of those unemployed, it made him think why did he studied? Why does he want to make photographs? Are his photographs enough to talk about his thoughts? He started to make photobooks. He was always interested in consumerism, technologies, news feed but also what’s under his feet-as landscapes. He thinks that the life we are living in are completely manipulated by all the above.

Photography for Simpson is the experience of exploration of the world and the communication to people. He thinks that good work come from original thoughts and expressions. Very useful advice, as he told us to think what makes us different than the others. Book making process taught him the understanding of materials, the discipline and the level of sacrifice. He used multiple visual languages in his work; different materials, variation of printing technics, scans of the objects, photographs of surrounding, objects etc. He believes that photographers toolset become limited, as there is a lot to consider when making photographs; like the lighting, location, time of the day, what camera do you use, what lens, what point of view, angle…

Fallowing the talk, I had a chance to show Simpson my work. He told me that the dept to the story is visible through my dummy book and that I engage with a lot of people. That my portraitures are strong, intimate and quiet. That I should ask myself question if the additional images doing their job. If I really need them. I told him that I am planning to add a text to my book. His advice was to be very careful and to consider what text will I add, as text could be literal, and I could gain something but also lost something. He told me to consider text as French folded, pull outs or hidden. About the introduction for my book, his advice was not to add the text at the beginning but at the end. So, each viewer will go through the book, then read the text which could mean totally differ things that what they thought of photographs. He advised me to look at other practitioners who added text in their work, like for example Sophie Cale-Blind, and to read Working from Memory.

It was a pleasure to meet you Theo and thanks for your advice.

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Lewis Chaplin from Loose Joints publications guest speaker

Last Friday I had a pleasure to attend Lewis Chaplin’s talk.

Chaplin talked about his adventure with photography, as well as publications, book making and designing process. He made his first book when he was a teenager, printed in numerous examples and sent it to many publishing companies. Someone got back to him and this was his first step towards his carrier. He then introduced us to his publishing company Loose Joints he created together with his partner. As well as speaking about the books he published, he brought many physical examples of them, so we could have a chance to look through. One which catches my eyes was about fetish and called 2041. Book isn’t as interesting, but the way Chaplin talked about his relationship with the photographer and how they become friend and shared their interest in dressing up, was very interesting and really funny. The book contains self-portraiture, where the artist performs in his own house, but as he covers his own body in a various textiles, he always remains anonymous.

The most interesting for me was a book called Homes by Harley Weir. Weir created his body of work in refugees camp in Calais in 2016. I love the context of the book and the way she photographed the camp, which shows migrants’ struggle and the conditions they get to live in. She doesn’t’ just raised the awareness of the migrants situation in the camp, but also raised the money for human rights charities in the area.

After the guest speaker, we went to our base room and was able to show our work to Lewis Chaplin. He was very useful and gave me some good ideas. He said that I have a lot of strong portraits, but as a viewer he can not get the message I am trying to say to the viewers. Therefore, he advised me to add a lot of text, like essay, subject’s stories, facts, statistics etc. He suggested to talk to each photographed people and ask about their feelings, if they feel frustrated, or as they are working too hard, or are they under valued?… I told him that I am planning to mix the subjects with their belongings, so as their stories and he said that this is a good idea, as I shouldn’t give the viewers every answer, as it may changes their perception.

If you would like to see some more Loose Joins publications, check their website

http://www.loosejoints.biz

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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/

documentary photography, final year, major project, photography, portfolio review, portraiture, uni work, university

Alumni portfolio review

It was an honour to show my work to photographers who once were Students of University of Huddersfield as I am now. Each of them works in different photography field however, it was great to hear what they think about my work and how they are doing as practitioners. I am really appreciated for all the great feedback.

Tom Duffield – Freelance, Editorial

Tom was impressed that I found so many people and told me that my subject is very interesting and valid. He likes the images which have quiet surrounding, and the one which have additional picture related to person’s work.

I spoke with Tom that I would like to try different approaches, so he told me that is good idea to try to photograph them on white background, to isolate the subject from their surroundings, so the viewer concentrates on each individual person and the person become the most important. However, he told me that the editorial portraiture which I did are good enough. Additionally, he advised me to take some pictures around subject’s house to portray important stuff for them and to ask each person to hand write something about themselves. To ask them how long they have been here? What is their experience as migrants? That it will add their voice and their authorship to the project and the project would become more personal.

Laura Patric – Freelance Studio, Digital Assistant

Laura likes the idea of my project and was impressed that I have a mixture of men and women, wide range of careers and variation of ethnicities. She advised me to work on white balance, colour cast and to use grey card so the images fits together and have similar colours and consistency. I am absolutely going to do this, I told her that I already bought grey card and will start to use it.

Ryan Fitzpatric – Freelance Food Stylist, Studio Photographer

Another commercial practitioner who points out white balance in my work. Thanks guys, it would be fixed. Ryan’s advice was to write a story about each subject, what they did in their own country, if they worked in the same field etc. Additionally, to create more of their story I should add images related to them or their archive images from their country.

Silvana Trevale – Freelance Editorial, Fashion, Portraiture

Silvana advised me to look at Katy Granan and Lewis Khan’s work with white background. She told me to spend time with each of the subject, to get to know them, to fallow them in their daily basis. Not to be worry if they won’t let me in their house. But if they agree I should have their prints for them. Great idea, I will definitively try this.

 

documentary photography, final year, photography, portfolio review, portraiture, uni work, university

Portfolio review

I’ve had a pleasure to show my work to two very interesting photographers, Pablo Antoli and Mario Popham.

Artists told that some of my photographs are better than others however, are good technically and that I am concentrating on very important subject and current political issue. I told them that I would like to change something within this project however, they told me not to look for any ideas as I already have a good one. Their advice was to build connection with my subjects, to investigate their lives, interview them and asked them to write something about themselves. They advised me to look at Gim Golberg’s work Rich and Poor and Open See where artist applied hand writing on the image. I am really appreciated about the feedback and some great ideas. I will definitely try them in my new work.