I think the overall effect of the photographs as a cohesive whole works well: they are all clearly barriers of one type or another. The themes selected for inclusion could arguably be developed and expanded much more as each one of them has profound meaning and consequences not just regarding photography, but within many other facets and areas of today’s contemporary reality. Possibly, I could be punching above my weight here with these vast, sensitive and often unnerving themes, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it!
The option to restrict myself to using just a square crop, creates a visual homogeneity (as seen with the semi-successful composite image below in the Reworkings section) and, I believe, also intertwines and validates the concept of barriers even deeper into the assignment. Although, in all honesty, the same could be said if I had stuck with a vertical or a horizontal format.
As mentioned in the notes under each photo, I feel that there were many positives and negatives individually speaking with each photo, and some of those concerns also apply to the overall effect too. For example, the similarity between shot 2 and shot 4 could have been avoided (and would have been if I had gone with the different hue idea for shot 4).
But I believe that my attempts at using different techniques: the camera settings, lens choice, different framing, and the experimentation with different effects: the double exposure, deliberate camera movement, macro and zooming in, have all combined to help produce satisfactory, varied, and successful results which remain relevant to the assignment, and do not, thematically speaking, deviate from the brief.
Regarding how the series could be improved, I think that possibly using just one type of lens technique, such as close-ups, slow shutter speeds, or flattened full focal length shots instead of a combination of these techniques would create a more solid visual cohesion to the set. Perhaps converting the images to B/W or sepia would give a monochromatic aspect to the set creating a much more harmonious, and balanced effect (as can be seen in the Reworkings section).
The sheer breadth and depth of the selected theme of Barriers has allowed me to push myself in terms of creative thinking and possibly to justify the inclusion of more – at first – seemingly tenuous topics (Preferences, for example). The more I thought about barriers the more I saw (and felt) them everywhere. My selection of eight is a much reduced amount compared to my notes and research for this assignment. But it had to be that way, or this already lengthy project would possibly never end and become a limitless, boundless barrier in itself.
How well does this assignment meet the assessment criteria?
I feel that I have touched on all the criteria and developed and experimented within each criterion.
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
By using a wide range of camera settings, from varying shutter speeds, lens choices and focal lengths, to camera angles, DoF, and contrasting compositional work, I believe that I have met the criterion here. Also, by being aware of different elements aligning within the frame (often fortuitously at first), there is a clear demonstration of compositional knowledge as well as experimentation of that knowledge, and a visual awareness being applied.
Quality of outcome
The final result appears to be coherent and uncomplicated. There is clear signposting to my thought processes and development of ideas through an extensive and thorough accompanying text to each theme and photo, which is clearly divided into subsections using headings. The texts, at times admittedly long and although hopefully not too contorted or tenuous, remain relevant to the individual theme of each photo as well as the main unifying theme itself. I believe that a non-expert reader of photography (but with some basic grounding) would still be able to grasp the meanings and follow the texts. Also, I would hope that they would be able to see the connections between the images, visually as well as intellectually, and would probably be able to determine the main theme quite quickly even if, for example, they started reading halfway through.
Demonstration of creativity
Giving myself the freedom to choose the camera settings may have not created the most homogeneously slick set of images, but has, in my opinion, demonstrated my intent, focus and creativity towards each photograph. As seen with the Settimana Santa image above, by observing my surroundings – in this case the all important background – I discovered and then purposely included the poster within the shot. This inclusion, apart from making a much better and relevant photo in respect to the theme, shows a creative quick thinking and adaptability visually and mentally, I would say (apart from being something that feels incredibly elusive and a very automatic and intuitive reaction to visual stimuli). Also, the ability to apply the concept of barriers to my everyday surroundings shows creative adaptability as well as imaginative endeavour and relevant manipulation of the assignment theme.
I believe that I had demonstrated some critical thinking regarding the theme of barriers through the reflection process I used in the comments under each photograph. Being objective about my own work is something I have never done before and have found it quite awkward to do. Whether this is due to the almost impossible act of really being objective while actually being subjective – as Barnbaum (2010, p342) puts it when referring to this: “…an extremely difficult transition from subjective response to objective analysis.” – or whether it is due to the reflection process of my photographs being a new skill that needs developing, I am none too sure yet; a combination of both no doubt, I would guess.
Reading up on Gianluca Cosci for Research point 2: Project 2 gave me an insight into an interesting artist (and who I have recently interviewed about his work), and from whom I gathered my initial idea of barriers within society. This approach demonstrates both research and reflection culminating in a creative final product.
Also, by using various techniques regarding lens choice, focal range and framing, there is evidence of applying acquired knowledge garnered through the course exercises as well as my own past experiences with photography as a hobby.
Shot 9, The Great Darkness, (which I chose not to include in the main set and only as an addendum) shows how one of my original ideas for a barrier, ‘darkness’, quickly became something more. This was through the creative process of using research and linking and developing that research to my own ideas.