I received the feedback from my tutor for assignment 4 and most of the comments made by my tutor were expected. I was not very pleased with the whole series when I submitted it but I was running out of time and trying to finish the course by the end of August 2017 because I have to submit my last assignment (assignment 5) before the 1st of September, 2017 or I will be withdrawn from the Bachelor degree.
Below is my tutor’s feedback for assignment 4 and my reflection in blue italics. For a PDF file of the original feedback please click here.
You’ve produced some striking images here, Ghada, derived from asking your twin daughters how they feel about being a twin – which is fascinating. As before, you’ve worked through the creative process quite organically, from the germ of the initial idea, through experimentation and play into development. I feel this process is not quite resolved, however, and I outline some suggestions below.
I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.
Feedback on assignment
Firstly, a note on the use of text. You say in your summary, “In my series I think the title itself is enough guidance for interpretation, thus I do not need to explain the photographs more. The readers can figure out the rest.” I disagree. I’d go as far as to suggest a re-think of this as your title, or, if you choose to keep the title, then include the Shakespeare quote for context, as lead-in or sub-title. But then, does the title fully reflect themes of harmony and discord form the original writings by your daughters..? Take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of a brand new observer to the work.
I have reworked the assignment, please see here.
You have some strong images here. The use of props and costume is creative and effective.
How do you feel the images hang together as a series? I feel the serious needs more symmetry, visually.
I agree on that as I am not very pleased with it myself.
The first two images are obviously very controlled yet the figures fill the frame quite differently – are you able to adjust this in the editing (for balance)?
I adjusted the photograph on the left (photograph no. 1) so it balances the one on the right (photograph no.2), see below:
The image of the wardrobe seems a little off-balance as it’s the only one where the twins themselves are absent – you might balance this out with another well-conceived shot of, say, shoes (etc…). Or leave out this image altogether.
I did have a feeling that it did not quite fit within the series but I wanted to try it out as I liked it as an image and it indicates what the girls were saying about not liking the idea of matching their outfits.
Images no. 4 and 6 are very intriguing (4 is even quite radical) but somehow I feel an expectation to see a counterpoint to each in order to make sense of the image in the context of the twins’ relationship, and, perhaps, following the preceding visual theme of ‘pairs’. A pity these shots weren’t taken at full length (or do you have full length versions too?).
Photograph no. 4 indicates the lost of identity of one of the twins as each wants to be the other or try to be the other one by imitating her.
Photograph no. 6 is actually the body of my girl “Hessa” while the face on the picture she is holding is the face of her sister “Moza” and it indicates how the twins look at each other regarding their looks as one of my daughters wrote she loves her sister’s hair more etc.
I do have photograph 4 in full length, but unfortunately not photograph 6. However I do prefer the half length photograph I used for the series because of the background. Below is the full length photograph of image number 4. I tried to change the background to a solid color but the result looks better with the original (on the right).
The final image is effective but a touch dark on the left hand side – is this intentional?
It wasn’t intentional but it was because I had to work on the hair and background a lot to fix lots of background issues. To fix this, I tired to use the curve to brighten it a bit, see below:
The more I look at this sequence, the more I wonder whether the first two photographs seem to belong to a completely different series. The experimental element is strong, but is it working? (Are the pictures saying implicitly what you want them to say?)
Although the first two photographs were my least favorite because of the headpiece idea that I imagined differently but I do think they work within the series and translate what I want them to say. It shows what the twins are good at or more interested in. One would be interested in fashion and makeup and so while the other is more into reading and thinking, its beauty and brain what the twins always hear and are categorized by and I wanted to show that in this photographs.
I think now I understand why my tutor disagreed with me when I decided to omit the text and let the title say it all!
I’d like you to try removing images 1, 2 and 5, Ghada, and to see what you can replace them with, keeping themes of balance and symmetry in mind. It will probably be helpful to return to your daughters’ texts, as well as your contact sheets. Let me know if you find this a struggle or need a second opinion. Alternatively, try simply losing image 5 (too much like a promotional shot for IKEA) and replacing it with something much stronger.
Thank you Jayne, I think I will sell image 5 to IKEA then 😂. The image talks about the competition between the girls in everything and the way they perceive it as winning and losing so I used the chess to indicate that. See post about Wendy McMurdo here for this image. Also see post here of the contact sheet of the rework.
I’d highly recommend a look at the work of Hellen van Meene, especially her portraits of twins, and Doppelgangers by Wendy McMurdo, which, whilst conceptually quite different, I think you’ll find very interesting.
The storyboard exercise looks to have been particularly engaging. To push this further, inrelation to thinking about image and text, try an alternative set of captions to completely change the effect of the illustrations… Notice the ways in which words “pin down” the image. Check the repost here.
Research & Learning Log
• Please do continue to reflect and expand on how your research is feeding into how you think about and take photographs.
• The learning log is working well in terms of the development of your assignment work, from initial idea to end result. I’d like to see a bit more cross-fertilisation between your research and assignment work, so that each starts to inform the other.
• Your reflection on tutor feedback is good, as usual.
• Read: Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes, as before.
• See: Hellen van Meene – portraits. See post here.
• See: Wendy McMurdo – Doppelgangers. See post here.
Pointers for the next assignment / assessment
• Thank you for sending me an outline of your idea. Again, I would strongly recommend a reading of Camera Lucida, this time in relation to your next assignment and proposed themes of loss/presence/absence.
• Rosy Martin’s work on absence and place may be of interest. See post here.
• The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard – you may find further inspiration here. See post here.
• Think carefully about your editing decisions.
o Which images need to be there?
o Is there unnecessary repetition?
o Are you holding onto a favourite that is no longer required?
o Do you need to re-shoot anything?