OCA Thames Valley Group Meeting on 18th July 2015


There were 11 of us today with Jesse Alexander as attending tutor. As before, the whole of the day was given over to ongoing work review – prints, physical, in photo books or on-screen, or discussion on work planning. There was a lot to cover and below are some notes.

Emerging Themes

Maintaining ‘authorship’ of a work, particularly one that is more personal and emotive

The advantages and disadvantages of editing work after feedback. The advantage is that the work can become more polished/sophisticated, more in line with assignment criteria or tutor preferences and further work can add more depth to a concept, (e.g. Michael’s new ‘artefacts’).

The disadvantage is that the immediacy and raw spontaneity and emotion of work can become diluted so that ‘authorship’ leaks away more quickly and we discussed this in relation to Teresa’s very personal work. The choice can be to retain the original whilst extending/adapting the work for other contexts and so have more than one version.

I had this dilemma with my work for Assignment 2. I have been asked if I will continue Paul’s blog but I felt I would be forcing the story somehow in creating new scenarios for him. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t do something along similar themes in the future.

Context and Narrative

We touched upon this again in relation to whether text supports the image or vice versa. I’m sure this will be a continuing theme.

Holly’s work on C&N Assignment 1 – two sides of a story develops her views on the ways in which our perception of ,say, a landscape is shaped by earlier famous artists and photographers, i.e. always going for a particular composition or scene rather than looking what’s outside the frame that we don’t normally ‘notice’ because it doesn’t fit with traditional views of landscape.

At a slight tangent, Vicki’s intended work on “Fifty Shades of Grey” also brought up how several competing themes might need to be refined to produce more clarity/focus in thinking through strategies. Added to this is the difficulty in using large objects as metaphors or symbols and then taking them out ‘in public’.


The importance of ensuring that presentation of the work complements the display environment, whatever that might be. For instance, the amount of work involved in placing work in an exhibition and how important it is to take the showing environment into account. Where will people exit and enter; and how this can ‘interrupt’ a narrative flow.

Listening to John and Keith talk about their Exhibition planning reminded me again of how much work there is in getting ready for one and the importance of visiting the Exhibition space beforehand to gain a sense of how visitors might view the display – will the narrative flow be affected by exits and entrances. Additionally there’s ensuring that the size of the prints convey your concept as do the size and style of frames plus arranging for the printing of accompanying catalogues/books and business cards.

Printing and Photo-paper

The differences between a photo-book with a more limited selection of printing papers and choosing exactly the paper that fits and then creating an original, probably hand-made, photo-book.

Checking out how the same image looks on different papers and the value of obtaining a personalized printing profile from the paper manufacturer that more exactly matches with your printer. I’m going to a day seminar on the 28th July on using my new Epson printer. I’m told they don’t offer this type of service, but am hoping to become more proficient in using the printer.

Moving on from the above, how different papers affect perception of a work. For instance I noticed that a photograph on semi-gloss paper can keep me at a slight distance from the subject, whereas one on matte paper can absorb me into the narrative with its softer look and texture.

The ethics of manipulation, e.g. Photoshopping

This is a vast topic, raised this time by Stephen’s images from a model photo-shoot. At this point we moved on from a beginning argument concerning objectification – something that is very well illustrated in its various aspects in Francesca Woodman’s work I think and I will be writing more about this.

Coping with the OCA workload

All of us in our own ways had issues with the amount of time spent studying. I have to admit that it was partly because the group was meeting that I pushed myself to take some photographs instead of ‘thinking about it’, concurrently giving myself a rest from obsessing about Francesca Woodman.

My current progress

I had been feeling ‘stuck’ – again – and, as I commented above, knowing I was going to the Group gave me an additional push to use my camera. I decided to challenge myself with self-portraits and one strategy I tried was to wear a borrowed wig. I know of several photographers who have done this in various ways but it was seeing was the work of Alma Haser  that influenced me towards this at this particular moment.. Haser had previously hidden her face in self-portraiture and she utilized wigs and outfits to gain the confidence to look square on at the camera. This was just a beginning because she then went on to explore how other people might feel more empowered by dressing up.

Progress so far is on my Flickr photostream here again I had wanted to make public the fact that I’ve begun to tackle the problem. I’ve had some positive encouragement to continue from fellow students but know that it isn’t enough just to take such photographs for the sake of it. I need to have an underlying concept that interests me. I’ll write more about this on my blog in due course.


18th July 2015