Response to tutor – People and Place – Assignment One

Here is my response to the tutor feedback for assignment one of People and Place – A Portrait.

Overall I was very pleased with the feedback for this first assignment, especially as the subject was one which I found quite testing. My tutor commented on how she found the idea of the ‘expat’ (I am a UK expat living in Singapore) an intriguing one to use as a subject.

The first two images, the swimming pool and the mosque, were received well which I was glad about as they had been a two of the things I was keen to get across.

The third, close-up image was supposed to represent the wear and tare on the face obviously didn’t come across as I wanted. I have noticed the sun in Singapore takes quite a toll on people’s skin (mainly the fair skinned westerners) unless they are very careful. Unfortunately this hasn’t come across in the final image. It may be that I can work the image differently to express the sun damage or maybe I need a before and after shot. My tutor suggested using colour rather than black and white to emphasise the difference in the skins colour tones. I will take this in to account.

Photographing the haze happened relatively shortly before I did the assignment as it fitted in well with my remit and is something that, although not always on this scale, the people of Singapore have to deal with every year. Being fairly last minute it was done with some haste but has come across well. My tutor asked if I could have cheated with regards to showing the haze off more (I commented in my assignment that I found it difficult to capture the haze looking as bad as it did to the eye). Obviously, I could have colourised the photograph somehow but (as my tutor suggests) I felt it necessary to tell the viewer the authentic story (in this case). Much was made of the haze here (and it was bad), but the over saturation in the media made me not want to be ‘one of them’ in over hyping the conditions. In fact over the next few days the haze continued to get much worse and so this shot would have changed naturally but by then it was too late for the assignment.

Unfortunately the weak point in the assignment came in the final image of the series. I can entirely pin point why this is the case which means I shouldn’t be doing it again! Firstly this shot was entirely opportunistic as we were passing these shutters, which I hadn’t noticed before. Secondly, I was aware that this was the last time I was going to be able to work with my subject before a significant break of time. So I was rushing to get my assignment finished. Seeing graffiti like this in Singapore is very unusual and I couldn’t resist shooting it with my model in front. However, clearly it doesn’t describe the expat ‘condition’ in the this assignment and therefore sends out all sorts of mixed messages. Not only that but, as my tutor points out, the shirt and it’s vertical and horizontal stripes destroys the flow of the lines across the shutters. Possibly I could have painted the model’s torso to mimic the background in a similar fashion to an Annie Leibovitz shot of Keith Haring in 1987. This may be, to be honest, slightly beyond my expertise at this point (especially as the model in question was an artist in his own right). However, it clearly tells me I need to think harder about my submissions and may have even been better to submit only four photographs rather than the necessary five that were requested. It would probably have made the series stronger in omission.

On reflection I needed to support the assignment with more referenced and written material to back up what I was trying to say with the images. I think I was rushing to get to the end and as such missed some areas, which would have helped me and the tutor get a better feel for the subject matter.

In other areas, I need to show more evidence of my research and make sure it is tagged and noted appropriately. I look forward to the second part of this module.

Keith Haring by Annie Leibovitz – 1987


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