A4: Not Familiar (image and text) – assessment submission


These images are submitted as a printed book as part of the assessment pack.

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Artist’s statement

This work uses text as a direction for photographing the atmosphere of a place.  I worked in collaboration with a writer, who I asked to provide a passage of text that I might draw upon. I was not specific in the request and just explained that I would not be illustrating the text but using it to inspire a broader narrative. Details of the text are here. Over a period of days I reflected upon the text before deciding on the type of photographs I might make (see here) – I read the text as analogous to uncertainty or ambiguity through the transition between light and dark. The title, ‘Not Familiar’, is drawn from the text and reflects ambiguity and lack of clarity.

My initial inspiration for the mood of Northern English urban landscapes is from the monochrome work of both Bill Brandt and Martin Parr (The Non-conformists). More recently, I have engaged with the work of John Bulmer, who’s striking use of colour in this context has driven me to find colour in these apparently drab Northern towns and cities.

I worked on the shoot without reference to the words or thinking of the descriptions in the writing. I kept only the mood in mind. Contact sheets from some of the 170 shots are here. It has been a long process to get to the finished output: I initially decided to work the photos and text into a photo book, using the Lightroom book module,  where I made the book text-heavy to avoid the reader making a direct connection between image and text (see here). However, following feedback on my first edit, recorded here, I substantially reworked the photo book and the online presentation of the planned book for submission to my tutor. Following his feedback, which suggested simplification of layout and increasing ambiguity further, a further rework was completed to what is presented here and in the accompanying printed book. Closure on the work was present the book to the writer whose work inspired the photographs – he received the work enthusiastically and appreciated the interplay between the atmosphere conveyed in his words and the photographs; even though the words were dragged from their original context and not the same order of appearance as in the original piece of writing.

Through this process, I have come to appreciate the value in revisiting and reworking a piece before it is finally released into the world – work needs time to rest and brew before looking at it anew and refreshing it.

Submission to tutor and report

The original submission to my tutor along with introductory, process and concluding text is here. This was also presented as a book (mocked up through a video) but is a significantly different edit and layout to the work finally presented.

My tutor’s report and my response is here. Details of the rework are here. I learned a great deal about the process of making and editing photographs in book format through the work and the feedback received. The earlier version of the work was perhaps too intense and busy with insufficient time for the eye to rest a while and absorb the content. I also battled with the tools for assembling the book – finding Lightroom’s capabilities for layout inflexible; this has encouraged me to use Indesign for future work book works.