Although I haven’t blogged much in recent weeks (due to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown measures I’ve found myself moving from France back to the UK and then back to France again, so it’s been an odd couple of months…), I have continued to think and plan for SYP.

I have been tentatively working on the second assignment (the publication plan) and will belatedly document that progress in blog posts shortly. Now feels like a good time to draw a line under Assignment 1 and crack on with Assignment 2 proper.

I have had feedback in the form of video portfolio reviews or written commentary from four people so far:

I have open requests with two further people who have not responded:

  • Paul Herrmann of Redeye (I have recontacted but not yet heard back)
  • Al Palmer of Brown Owl Press (he warned that it would take him a while to get back to people and not to chase!)

I’m still very happy to have any feedback from the latter two, at whatever stage in SYP. I do however think that I will draw a line under this initial feedback phase by collating the feedback from the first four reviewers before I move on to plan my publication.

Alexander Mourant

This was a video call portfolio review in response to an offer by Revolv Collective, of which Alexander is a member.

Main takeaways:

  • Introductory text was too long (subsequently edited down)
  • He didn’t expect to like it at first glance but was ultimately “charmed”
  • The text/image juxtapositions work well despite this being tricky to pull off
    • Sometimes he felt the text was the stronger part of the pairing (!)
  • Sequence/rhythm worked well and he didn’t recommend major changes
    • Though he felt the last image jarred a little (which I said was intentional)
  • He suggested I research the critical theory around ‘the walk’ as an artistic device, possibly make more conscious use of this aspect

Jayne Lloyd

Another video call, this time won in a portfolio review contest organised by Zealous, with the ‘prize’ being a review video chat by Jayne from Shutter Hub.

Main takeaways:

  • The theme/concept worked, as in came across well
    • A good mix of more obvious and more ambiguous juxtapositions
  • In terms of mood she described it as containing both humour and a little sadness, there was an element of pathos in there
  • She encouraged me to think about how the images stand alone as photographs, without the text and as individual pictures, floating free of the overarching concept/context
    • I subsequently entered some textless images from the series into a Shutter Hub open call, and had two selected for inclusion in an online exhibition
  • Like Alexander she felt that the final image jarred somewhat
    • By now I was starting to see this and I’m still unsure whether to move, remove or re-caption it

LensCulture

This was a written critique by an unnamed reviewer as part of entering an edited version (10 images) of the series into a competition.

Main takeaways:

  • They enjoyed the photographs, described them as “quite thoughtful and at times beautiful”
    • And complimented me on the use of humour through the set
  • The text statement was strong in setting the scene and how I would like viewers to engage with the work
  • Editing: in such a small set I repeated motifs too much (gloves, birds)
  • Sequencing: some images are easier to read (in terms of the text juxtaposition) and some more ambiguous; I had in this set bunched the more obvious ones close together
    • They suggested looking at sequencing with ‘readability’ as one of the criteria for setting the rhythm of the images
  • Text: some comments on the typographical treatment not being quite right, and to play around with variations
    • I did so, and in the end used the same font but a thinner weight
  • Presentation method: suggested that a printed format (book, zine) rather than an exhibition might serve the work best, due to the intimacy of the work

Andrew Conroy

A brief written critique based only on the promotional PDF (eight images) due to an unfortunate glitch with a webpage redirect.

Main takeaways:

  • The work has a “gentle weirdness” that says more about me than the nominal subject matter in the frame
    • He described it as very intimate and personal, with an understated gentleness
  • That I shouldn’t worry too much about whether people’s readings of the work is in line with my own intention, and embrace the notion of viewers bringing their own interpretations…
  • … notwithstanding that, he felt that the work did get across to him what I intended viewers to see/think
    • Partly because the title and the intro text set the scene reasonably well

Response

A brief summary of actions taken and/or planned following the reviewer feedback:

  • Another iteration of editing/sequencing, in particular looking at:
    • The last image
    • The rhythm/spacing of images according to ease of reading / ambiguity
    • Expanding the set to approx 20 for the publication phase
  • Revised text treatment
  • Decision to focus on a printed publication (with online support) rather than gallery exhibition
    • More to follow shortly
  • Decision to promote only my portfolio website homepage due to issues with redirects to internal pages