Letter to my Tutor 2nd July and review of my progress on 26th July 2018

Preparation for Tutorial 02-07-2018

It was with a sense of urgency and slight panic that I prepared this long letter to my tutor summarising my approach to the three activities we were being encouraged to participate in with only a few weeks of the module left and with marked assignments to complete as well. In fact the listing of component parts and possible solutions for each activity has been helpful not only in getting me started but gave me a framework and way of taking small steps to achieving completion that has made the activities seem more manageable. With this late (and lengthy) posting well after what was a helpful tutorial I have now been able to add my progress to 26th July.

Questions for my tutor:

Do the images we present in this exhibition and in a publication have to have been taken during this module or can we include those from previous modules since the start of the course? Yes they can be from previous modules, but these must not appear in the marked assignments for this module.
Do the images displayed in Landings need to be the same as those in my local exhibition/ on the products and in the printed zine/book? Not necessarily but there needs to be a significant number of images in common.
I am taking images with several cameras, an iphone, DSLRs and an SLR but if I continue experimentation with scanning and copying my exhibition an portfolio assignment maybe camera free! Is that a good idea? I need to reflect on what a photograph is, a picture made with light. Then using a variety of methods to do that will be acceptable. Laura Nissinen’s guest lecture was very helpful in this respect on 24th July.

Exhibitions (online in Landings and locally in real time)

Plans:
I will order some prints for a portable portfolio to show galleries who might be willing to exhibit my work. Done but not needed to show galleries as location for exhibition agreed without this activity.
I will order some products made with my images to display and sell alongside prints. Done for the most part, more ideas to come to fruition.
I will contact several coastal galleries this week. Many display arts and crafts as well as photography. Gallery space booked in artist’s studio/coffee shop/general stores the first week in July.
I will also research holding pop up exhibitions in a local building (The Reading Rooms next to the pub and Church or the Pub or the shop) and on a local beach or at the School House restaurant in the beach carpark (I need to gain permission from the beach owners and the restaurant by the beach). For another time now a location is booked.
I will plan a statement of who I am and a list with prices of images and products for sale as well as individual description cards for each image or product. I may engage a member of the U3A photography group I belong to who produced professional looking materials for a group exhibition we held a couple of years ago for advice and possibly help re setting out and printing. Still to be done. 

Selecting images for Landings 2018 and my actual live exhibition has begun. Initially I envisaged mounting and framing the images but have ordered some backed on board that are frameless. In addition I have started to acquire some items to be used in a mini installation on the floor in front of hung images.

Publication

Plans:
I will experiment with zine/book production. Until I am clear whether the images have to be from the timescale of this module only I cannot complete selection of the images. They can be from any module as long as they relate to the project work.
However I can think about and experiment with the different perspectives or view of the beach debris I have seen and collected. This suggestion came up in a course webinar last week. As I take images from above where and when found on beach walks, then reposition some to include the seascape as a backdrop and location identifier, then take home and experiment with digital processing each item has a timeline and a transformational process. How interesting this is to other people has yet to be tested. Alternatively I could just present the raw finds or the transformed materials.
I need to research and decide whether or not to include text that might be appropriate to accompany some images as well as write the introduction.
Given timescales to be ready for the exhibition and the time taken to receive printed materials if I choose a publisher such as Photobox or Blurb I need to do this task in parallel with the tasks for the exhibition. I now realise a Dummy book may just be home made and a single copy after sharing views on line and in webinars. I did complete an exercise to show pages of what could be included.
As an alternative I could get my selected images printed in a small format and arranged in sets presented in a recyclable covering or box or simply tied together with fishing wire or net. I spent three days going through my images thinking about the book/zine and also what might be included in the exhibition. On the tutor’s suggestion I made some contact sheets and shared them. The feedback my tutor gave, having taking on an editing role, has enabled me to see where my practice is going more clearly. With this feedback,  a discussion with the module leader and listening to Laura Nissinen I am beginning to feel more confident and less overwhelmed at not feeling I have a clear direction for the next steps in my development.

Workshop

Plans:
This is the task I feel less confident about. Although I am experienced in preparing and running such events in my previous career I have not completed such an activity in relation to photography. I have presented a talk about the course and my work to a group before (documented in a previous module) but a 40 minute talk is quite different to running an activity over a period of time (upto 6 hours we have been advised). My initial ‘stuck’ feeling is subsiding as I start to generate ideas.
To ask a local library/coffee/natter group if they would like an activity either at their meeting place or at another location.
To contact the local pre-school and primary school to see if there is scope, DBS checks permitting.
To join with someone running a beach clean, either an individual or organisation such as surfers against sewage, marine conservation society or National Trust, to add an activity to their already arranged one.
Above all else think about what I am competent and confident enough to talk about in relation to photography. Some initial thoughts although very tentative are:
I have only recently learned about cyanotypes and could order a couple of kits and take along objects to use with them.
I recently attended a brief workshop on using your camera phone which has given me some ideas that might be of some interest to others (although I am still mastering mine!).
I could offer a local group or friends an outdoor walk on the beach or round a garden giving advice on composition etc.

I have now planned two workshops, the first on 5th August to be on camera less activities and the second to be a walk on the beach learning focussing on improving image making in that location. Holding the first in my home, advertising locally, where many people know me and having ordered enough materials for cyanotypes and pinhole work my initial trepidation is turning to planning the activity and briefings in detail.

The development of my work
I have enjoyed the activities of making a zine and not using my camera. I have not yet had confidence to make a trailer although I have still and moving footage that could be used. Although I can envisage what I would want to achieve, the technical side of production is a challenge for me especially to have completed in a short time-scale. I have created a story, ‘The Mermaid and the Dinosaur’, that could become a trailer while collecting debris on the beach. I took some still images and some film using my phone and if there is time before the end of the module will try to create it.

Feedback on my scanned images this week has given me confidence to consider this method in more detail in relation to my project. I have been bowled over by the suggestion that an image could be in a Bond Street Gallery and to have the three images described as beautiful by colleagues.

In a way this new found direction follows on from the last module when I began to play with digital processing, particularly using that available in the Photos app on a Mac Book Pro. It offers accessibility and speed so that images can be quickly viewed and transformed in comparison with Lightroom and Photoshop, although I acknowledge greater refinement of details is possible with the latter two. This seems to be the direction I am now pursuing and my tutor’s encouragement as well as that of colleagues is showing me that there is some merit in showing beach debris in ways that intrigue and invite personal reflection on the message it is conveying. Seeing beyond what I know is rubbish to take the perspective that others have been in the past few weeks has been a challenge. I am now wondering about my abilities to continue to make images that are interesting, invite closer inspection and are considered by some to be beautiful. Is this a bubble that will burst or slowly deflate or will it reproduce as more and more complex and technically refined pieces of work?

I have also been taking sand prints, animals and humans with it in mind to think about leaving no trace except footprints on beaches. As yet I have not had time to process and share these images with my tutor and colleagues but hope to do so in the coming weeks as I like the concept.

As a diversion from the project I have been following a family of tawny owls in my garden and haver managed to take two while looking at a sea view! This activity has now been used in my guest blog on my colleague Alexandra’s webpage.

I look forward to your feedback on my work.

Sarah

 

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