Tutor Report Form
Student name: Edward Lerpiniere
Student number: 506079
Course/Module title: Ph1: Art of Photography
Assignment number: 5: Narrative/Illustration
Thanks for this, Eddy, and congratulations on successful completion of the module. I know this has been a bumpy road in places but you have persevered and showed real commitment to your studies which is commendable. Well done for taking the time and effort to attend the study visits, and for your pro-activity in getting some started as well. I hope you feel you have developed you skills and your knowledge to a point where you feel more confident about making work and feel your voice as a practitioner may be beginning to emerge.
Feedback on assignment
This commitment is further demonstrated within this assignment: Approaching the theatre company and negotiating with them (I think they got a good deal!) allowed you to get the shots you wanted and shows determination and initiative. Attending rehearsals must have given you a better idea of what to expect, and how to prepare for the actual event, and put you in a stronger position than other photographers there.
Layout: I don’t have a problem at all with you deciding not to do a mock-up of a magazine spread. Although you’ve shown consideration in terms of sequencing and hinted towards how they might be used.
It’s great to have ‘the money shot’ – what the whole thing is all about – right at the front of your sequence: it grabs attention, and that it isn’t within a linear narrative is irrelevant. Avoid repetition though: although there are differences, to the casual glance (which is how most people consume magazines), ‘Are you with us… and once more unto the breech’ are repetitive.
There is quite a lot of repetition elsewhere. This may sound superficial, but for instance, on page 4 there is a lot of red, and on 5 there is a lot of blue. I know you weren’t in control of this, but consider how it looks in terms of visual variety.
I’ve looked at the pages and images you’ve cited and I’ve managed to change some things. Unfortunately I can’t change page 5 from being red as the lighting for that period was entirely that colour and to keep the narrative flow in correct sequence I’ve no options open to change them.
You can’t always frame something perfectly at the time when it is dark and fast-paced, but I think forward to the fray could be cropped/rotated to get rid of the steward on the left, and make the figure in the centre of the frame (with is nicely framed by the other performers and the flag, stand out more.
I’ve taken your advice with this, but I didn’t like the suggested alternative crop so I’ve made a different portrait version which I think meets the criteria you suggested I apply. I must say it does look like it’s more of the story now.
I think there are a couple of important images on page 5: it’s good to have something more close-up (Are you with us…) to add some variety (even though this is really a little too shaky). I find the compact is made shot quite interesting as it really shows how this performance interacts with the actual public space.
I’ve changed that shaky image for something similar and sharp.
This leads me on to my next point, which is about the relationship between this performance and the public: apart from when the fuse is out HEAVE, the spectators don’t really feature much. I can hear you saying: “but they aren’t the focus of the story: the performance is!” which is a fair point, but as a picture story documenting this event, the crowd are massively important. Within the context of a local magazine (Berkshire Life or whatever you have), a picture editor would (I’m pretty sure) want to see more shots of the actual people who showed up to watch. A few more close-up shots of pretty people going “oooh” and “aaah” at the fireworks and acrobatics would go down a treat! This may sound cynical, but I think it would help to furnish the setting for what we are seeing.
I’m going to quote the addition I’ve made to page 1 here as it explains fully my problem and fully answers the comment above.
This extravaganza was too large for just one photographer to cover, as was witnessed by the fact that the professional company that had been hired for the event used three. The action took place across a market square that is roughly 75 metres by 50 metres and at times there was action in three places simultaneously. Given that there were upward of 2,000 people in the audience, all free to move around and interact with the action, it was a real challenge to simply get from one site of action to the next with time to get the images needed. I’ve managed to change a couple of images where the audience is more in evidence, but at the time I was undertaking this project my real concern was getting the images of the action without missing something important. If it’d run another night I could have then gone back and taken the kind of shots that showed the audience, and the surrounding businesses as ‘The Cornmarket” really wanted. Hey ho you can’t have everything and as Daniel Meadows used to say at the Graeme Street studio when someone queried his resulting images, ‘I’m only a student and still learning’
I was also left feeling the need to ask the question: what is the significance of this (Mexican story) performance to Newbury? Sorry if there is something I have overlooked, but I think this is important and needs to be articulated somehow: it may be in terms of the supporting text, although ideally it would be explored within your photographs as well. Whoever applied for funding to put on this performance would have come up with some kind of connection. It may be that you feel there isn’t any at all and it is all a bit of a joke: if so, is there a way that you could communicate this? Ok, it might not be to the taste of the Berkshire Life picture editor, but within the context of your studies more generally, it is an important consideration: how do you feel about the thing you are photographing?
This venture had no connection with Newbury whatsoever and was sponsored by ‘The Cornmarket’, Greenham Trust and The Arts Council of Great Britain to get more involvement from the populace with live theatre. This they are doing by outdoor performances of various events.
This all might sound quite critical, but I know you will appreciate my trying to push you as much as possible. I must make it quite clear that you have managed to take some technically accomplished shots of a very challenging subject: things that move quickly and unpredictably in the dark are very difficult to photograph! There are a couple that would probably not make an edit, but the majority are of a professional standard.
In term of the narrative element, I do feel these images really just illustrate the performance, as it is all a bit abstract without your supporting text. As we have touched on before, narrative is more complex. I wonder whether with another look at your shots from the event, and with a focus on conveying a sense of the event and less attention on the linear narrative of the story this performance tells (and taking into account my points above), you could come up with a more challenging collection?
I would be very happy to see another version of this before assessment.
I hope you’ll find the makeover more ‘challenging’ and better scripted as I’ve added longer captions to each image in an attempt to provide a link to the story.
We have discussed this at length and don’t think this needs any further development – it’s much more coherent now. Suggested reading/viewing . Try and see some of Cartier-Bresson’s reportage shots from the 40s and 50s [look on the Magnum website]: he went to hugely significant event from history, but often turned the camera on the spectators, without whom, the spectacle would exist.
* Try and see some of Cartier-Bresson’s reportage shots from the 40s and 50s [look on the Magnum website]: he went to hugely significant event from history, but often turned the camera on the spectators, without whom, the spectacle would exist.