Thoughts for July

I have been following, with some bemusement, several posts both on the OCA EYV mail thread and on the OCA year 1 Facebook page. There seems to be a small number of very vocal people who are clearly dissatisfied with the thoughts behind the course and the marking system. The problems could be summarised as:

  • I don’t feel I get enough support
  • I don’t like being told what to do
  • I don’t like the type of photography we are being asked to look at – too artsy, not beautiful, too much meaning, not enough meaning!
  • I’m not learning how to make better (read prettier) pictures
  • It’s too hard
  • It’s too much theory

Some of the above are obviously mutually contradictory.

I am not in the above camp – but I do wonder how much these vocal people reflect the general perceptions of a distance learning environment and some of the inevitable difficulties that occur. I have had the dubious advantage of working in a profession where I have always had to do a lot of self-directed study to keep up with any new developments, and was aware how hard this can be before starting the course. I am also studying for personal interest, that’s not to say that a long-term goal of making images that are good enough to attract attention and maybe even sell is out of the question!

I also am very aware that I actually signed up to do an Arts degree (and hope to be able to finish it). In any degree course there is bound to be a lot of ‘theoretical’ work, both reading and writing, and you are going to come across a range of works, some of which you will like and some of which you may hate or despise. I also think that it is likely that my tastes and specific interests will change as I see more different images and also as I read more about the thoughts and aspirations of the individual photographers. Certainly, I have already come across several artists that I would never have found before, and at least one that, on initial viewing, I could not see any value in, but whom I now really appreciate, and go back to.

I admit I am struggling to find enough time to do as much as I would like to. This is partly because I keep getting distracted and would spend an untenable amount of time following side paths, which, while fascinating, does detract from time available from doing the actual course work.

I also keep changing my mind about how to approach some of the assignments. I would probably find a little more hands on guidance or discussion helpful here, and should probably benefit from attending the study days when they are near enough or joining a local (ish) study group. Maybe a way forward would be to get up courage to post some of my images on the appropriate thread on the OCA website to ask for comments.

The issue about tutor support is a significant one. The tutor I have for EYV has not had any contact with me other than responding after my assignments, however that response has been extensive and very helpful, commenting on both my photography and my research, with several suggestions about how to take it further and appropriate links. Interestingly he has given some diametrically opposite advice from the tutor I had some years ago for TAOP. My previous tutor directed that every image should be labelled with all the image data, this one said not, commenting that you would only look at this if the photograph was intrinsically boring! (Although it can be interesting to know how someone else has reached the effect they have achieved).

Over the last month I have done a fairly large amount of personal photography that doesn’t directly feed into the course requirements. We have been away on holiday on a tour of Northern England and been to several events to do with the Romans and also to a very large military re-enactment. I have been able to use some of the confidence I developed in taking portraits for assignment 2 to good use here, and have, I think, made more interesting images of these events than I would have previously.

I have also made a small photobook for our wedding anniversary using 3 inch square close-up monochrome images of ears, fingers etc, which I would probably not thought of doing before the course. This is something I may well develop for future work and have wondered about using for the final assignment, my initial plan had to do some images around the environmental impact of the forestry commission and logging in Scotland.

So this is where I am at the moment. Trying not to get too diverted. Considering what to take forward. Generally happy that I am slowly improving.

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