4. Feedback

brief – submission – blog – feedback – rework

Tutor feedback received 24th July 2021.

Overall feedback

This has been an interesting project to view. It works on a number of levels and has the potential to raise issues concerned with nostalgia, memory, history, change and identity. There is an understated autobiographical element to the piece that has maintained an objective view in producing the work. You have found a rich source of material through tapping into the I Spy books of the 1950’s. The titles of some of the uniformed jobs might have disappeared. Who would recognize a clippie? Yet the uniforms remain in so many spheres of contemporary society. I would like to have seen some wider exploration into the conventions of the uniform. The symbols of authority, the stereotyping of the wearer, the reaction to uniforms, the uniform as a mask. [1]. It is interesting to see that the uniform still maintains a strong maybe even a stronger presence in modern life and how some have remained the same over time. The high court judge’s uniform of today would be recognized by the I Spy reader of 1955 without any problem.

I was amused by your adventures at Charing Cross Station. There are not many people who can produce evidence of their rights to an authority uniform when the occasion calls for it. I have linked you to a similar guide from the BSIA that you can add to your arsenal [2].

Feedback based on Learning Outcomes

The final piece is quite literal in content with the images submitted echoing in many ways the source images. Has this limited the final outcome [3] or is there another level involved by translating the source illustrations into the photographic medium?From your childhood memories of the I Spy books you been able to document and interpret from an individual perspective the cultural and experiential perspective through the cognizance of the passage of time. This has allowed you to translate your ideas into developing the work by producing visual insights in the context of contemporary society, politics and culture. The combination of the original text and illustration with your images work well as a means of presentation. Through this you have made an individual statement of changes that have taken place.

The written submission states your intentions and clearly corresponds to the objectives that you have set yourself. I would say that the introduction you suggested should be disregarded is relevant [4] as it outlines how thinking can progress in the creation of projects. Also, it demonstrates a willingness to change one’s mind. The difficulty in looking at an image from a different time is that from a contemporary viewpoint we are aware of the subsequent history of the subject. This will always affect our knowledge and interpretation of these periods separated by memory and potentially we can overlay too many meanings in our analysis. The photographer’s own voice may well be overlooked in the process. However, if we look at any historical image /illustration objectively the image itself may direct us and indicate parameters for interpretation. In contemporary terms we construct a meaning somewhere between the subject and ourselves as well as carrying the weight of theory. Looking at the I Spy books, from today’s point of view, it may be necessary to strip away the rhetoric of innocence that pervades them and consider them within their contemporaneous setting.

My first reaction was that these images although constructed from a personal perspective could represent the experiences of a large number of people. There are a number of images that work well and there is a dry humour to be found throughout the piece. The series creates an atmosphere of nostalgia coupled with a sense of modern anxiety.

Your choice to keep a physical distance from the subject is worth considering in relation to outcomes. How does this distance establish a link between you/ the viewer and the subject? Can this distance be breached to create an empathy with the subjects? [5]

There is a comprehensive portfolio of contact sheets in the learning log and these have been analysed and reflect your thinking process in selecting the final images. The image size is fine for this submission[6] I like the cricket players image and the transport one. The contrast between the 1955 view of the police and your image is startling. I would like to see more detail in your shadow areas as they are blocked up. [7] The civil defence image could do without the figure who appears to be standing on the officer’s shoulder. [8]

Throughout the learning log you have evidenced relevant research and reflection appropriate to the work. Overall, you have engaged with a lot of ideas for this project and this has evolved into an ongoing series that can be expanded in future work.

Action points

Adopt a critical and questioning stance to own work. Continue to develop lines of enquiry and research on a range of ideas for future projects. Take care in assessing technical quality of images.

[BSIA Photography and Hostile Reconnaissance]

Through a Glass, darkly: Photography and Cultural Memory
by Trachtenberg, Alan


25th July

1. I noted in the reflection that there are aspects of uniforms which are not addressed in the submission and this will be remedied as the project is developed. I am particularly interested in uniforms of rebellion and protest — gilets jaunes, XR, hunt sabs, etc. and whatever happened to Goths and Hare Krishna devotees with their orange garb and finger cymbals?

RPS, Know The Fact
img: RPS

2. This is a useful adjunct to my RPS card and they seem to agree on the rules. I have asked the RPS about reissuing it, but they were coy.

3. I was specific about the parameters of the images for this assignment and the possibility of expanding it subsequently.

4. This is just my distractive device for ignoring the word limits on the reflection piece. I think that every web page and especially an assignment submission should be capable of standing alone and I therefore provide a summary of the assignment development/blog as there are specific criteria for the reflection. I intend the introduction to be read but it is outside the scope of the brief.

5. Distance was a conscious and deliberate choice as a method of arriving at some consistency in the submission images. Armed police are definitely ill-disposed to being photographed in closeup and when I had alighted open the ‘in conversation’ theme, distance became useful because workers are reluctant to be photographed idly chatting when they are supposed to be working. It was also something of a relief after 100 Dogs not to be asking for poses.

6. Image size – good to know.

7. This is a serious failing. I will rework the images. I do recall that I was playing with the Canon on that day, trying spot metering and later abandoned it because it is a hindrance when grabbing shots rather than photographing still subjects carefully.

8. There are several images to choose from. I will rework this too.