OCA Thames Valley Group Meeting : 16th May 2015

We were a smaller group than usual although, whilst I missed people, there were some positives to this. Sharon asked if, to begin with, each of us could give a brief summary of where we are in relation to our individual Courses and this was good because it set the scene for the following work presentation and brought us up to date with each other.

The Theme for the meeting regarded editing /sequencing and different ways of approaching this, so this was the thread we followed throughout. Along the way we looked at:

  • the ways in which, given a background context and the opportunity, individual viewers will provide their own unique interpretation of how a series of images should be sequenced
  • text or captions for photographs and the advantages of this being handwritten
  • Duane Michal’s view of text as stating things that cannot be said through images
  • the way in which different text can change the meaning of the same set of photographs
  • how far do you go when taking photographs of people who don’t know this is happening

Smaller numbers meant that there was less pressure on individual timekeeping during work presentation, but, actually, everyone was very much to the point on what they wanted to get out of the discussion. I think this is a credit to the way in which the group has evolved towards being purposeful/business-like whilst allowing space to discuss deeper issues when necessary. Several of the series being discussed were quite personal and emotive in intent and, again, I think that smaller numbers further facilitated discussion of this.

I had taken along some of the work I had produced for Assignment Two of C&N as I wanted to discuss my thoughts on the feedback  I had received from my tutor which was very positive and constructive whilst opening out several avenues for exploration.

I was heartened by the fact that everyone was so interested in the project and the characters I had created came alive for them. It was suggested at one point that I continue writing Paul’s blog but my view was that it had seemed to come to a natural end point as Paul was beginning to accept that the relationship had ended. I also found that, again, I was talking as if Paul was a real person! An interesting realisation in view of the fact that my tutor had suggested perhaps I could find some references regarding the effects on people of ‘performing’ a role.

Sharon moved us on to talk about how I would present such a project. I had run off a faint (due to running out of ink!) print of the blog post, fastened together with a treasury tag and she suggested that I could do something like this, in better print. Sharon also suggested that I move myself out of the work. I found that difficult to understand to begin with, but now I think I know what she meant. I had put myself into the work by taking on the role of a reader of the blog and providing separate images – still-lifes of objects left behind by Laura in Paul’s place and still-lifes showing a more feminine and delicate aspect of Laura. The suggestion now was to proceed as if these separate images had actually been created by my characters. Images of the objects left behind could perhaps be viewed from a card on a cheap digital camera – Paul’s secret memories. The other still lifes could to be printed small, to show their delicacy, and be put in a presentation box – created by Laura, who is now an artist. On the other hand, others wanted to see these latter photographs printed very large.

Further Thoughts

I woke up the next day thinking about presentation! The kind of presentation box that might contain small still-life photographs; the idea of a concertina book which could contain all the images from Paul’s blog, with a short piece of text for each, taken from the blog content. I then began to worry that I might create too much additional material and so lose the original concept to the extent that Assessors might be critical. My reassurance is that there’s plenty of time to play around with ideas and I’ll still be learning as I go along.

Something else occurred. Two or three on-line photography magazines mentioned a book, Gardening at Night (2015) by photographer Cig Harvey.  The book, a love story, is “ […] an exploration of home, family, nature and time”. The title denotes settling down and finding a home, with seasons as metaphors for the cycle of life:

Each photograph and written vignette offers a tactile experience of things that ordinarily seem intangible – the secret life of birds, of barren winter trees, of the lake in springtime, or the girl in the window whose house you pass every day. The jewel-toned images are arresting and weighted but punctuated, as always by a characteristic whimsical style. The result is an intensely personal collection that captures an experience of the world that is at once otherworldly and yet instantly familiar. (Aline Smithson, 2015, in Lenscratch )

The book arrived yesterday. It is beautifully printed and presented in square format, its dark blue linen cover embossed with the title and author in lighter blue with a handwritten-type font. The end papers are in dark blue with different-sized, and smaller, pale blue spots, speckled on them – looking like a night-time sky. What especially interested me, apart from the lovely images themselves, was the mix of genres – landscape, portraits and interiors, something that very much appeals. Some of the full-bleed square images are accompanied by pale text that is mainly large capitals but interspersed with occasional words in bold hand-written-type font. I’m not too sure about the size and faintness of the large text, but the narrative itself adds to the story of ‘settling down’ and extends the theme.

There is also a postface by Vicki Goldberg who is a photography critic, author and photo historian and credit is given to the book designer, Deb Wood .

Harvey’s website also includes some delicate animated GIF images (from the series?) in the Motion section. I have attempted several experiments in producing GIFs over quite a period of time, Despite following a variety of web tutorials on these I still haven’t managed to produce anything worth looking at! Any suggestions of useful books or tutorials on this will be gratefully received.


Harvey, C (2015) Gardening at Night, Schilt Publishing