Critical Evaluation

Degree Major Project – Critical Evaluation

As I come to the end of my third year studying for my photography degree I feel a duality that I have both learned and grown an incredible amount as a photographer and yet I feel like I have just scratched the surface and still have so much left to learn. I guess this is exactly the nature of the industry I am about to enter, always changing and evolving and as times have proved regressing. For example, there has been a resurgence for analogue photography that was presumed long forgotten, alongside this however are such technical advances that allow mobile phones to capture moving images. I also read an article recently suggesting that for photographers to continue working within their industry they will need to look at videographer skills also as these are more in demand for all genres of photography. This suggests to me that my life as a photography student whilst formally completed will always continue.

My project for this module was I feel a culmination of all I have learned during my three years studying leading me back to my artistic roots of surrealism and abstract art. The idea was to produce a series of images to compliment my dissertation subject “Creating desirability within the fast food industry a public health issue” in my dissertation I discussed the advertising of fast food and the morals of a photographer creating images in such a desirable way. This led to my Degree Major project looking at healthy foods verses Junk foods and the warped way in which we view what is and isn’t good for us. I settled on a plan to produce a series of abstract, fine art images that would lead the viewer to question what they are seeing. My goals were to create vibrant, high key, detailed images of both healthy foods and junk foods.

I didn’t have a fixed idea of final presentation until much later in to the project, though I had lots of ideas throughout. What I decided on for my final exhibition I feel compliments the subject of my work, I opted for wallpaper with a repeated abstract print. From time to time I would see abstract food images on the walls of cafes, this has influenced my decision. After lots of deliberating I decided to experiment with printing ten more images on table mats. This was a risk because I had not used the company before and had no idea how the images would turn out. I did also have a backup plan available where I would get prints on smaller aluminium rectangles or just standard fine art prints in frames. My risk paid off though and I am really pleased with the finish of my table mats. These were my chosen option because they complement the fact that I am working with food. The images have worked in such a way that I can see the colourful ones being sold as a set in somewhere like Lakeland. This is a possible revenue source for me in the future.

I feel that my idea and execution has been a success over all however there are elements that could have been improved. Successful elements are the healthy images both the frozen ones and the kiwi in water. The colours are bold and striking, the ice creates a layer of distortion enough to give the viewer some questions and the images do have an abstract feel. The wallpaper though not initially how I had pictured it has been a success, I am really pleased with the quality and the bold colours of my image choices. Because I have selected the mirror print the wallpaper is very abstract and my daughter even commented saying that one of them she would even consider as a wallpaper for her home. Area I feel I could have improved would firstly be the junk food images, though they capture the junk food in the way I had intended the colours are bland and unexciting. This is the nature of the foods however so if I were to carry this project on it may need a different direction. Another area for improvement is finding a working space where I have plenty of room and equipment available, I worked in a small set up at home which was adequate however it is very easy for me to become distracted by goings on in my home and family.  Though I have been much more time conscious this whole year of study this is always an area that could use improvement. I was lucky with my final images given that I printed so late however this could have been a different story.

Regarding my continuing development I am sure that I will always be learning to one degree or another. I am enrolled in several online courses that I have yet to complete and these include post production which is an area that I am keen to develop. In particular, meeting industry standards including Capture One. I will continue my membership with the AOP, The Societies and will look at other associations that will support my entry in to the photographic industry. With a background in Network Marketing I understand the importance of networking, contacting people and continually putting myself out there to secure future work. I follow the creative review magazine online it is a great resource for keeping an eye on upcoming trends within the food photography industry, in their recent article they talk about how modern trends have moved away from the dark and documentary style to a brighter, vibrant coloured and softer focus. With these more modern images being sought after for a wide range of customers. (Creative Review, 2017) This is the area I feel my work fits in to however this feels like a slight contradiction to the recent winners and highly commended images from the Pink Lady Food Photography Awards, of which most have the dark documentary feel. What this suggests is that there is room in this industry for all types of food photography. My inspirational artists list continues to grow and not just around food but other genres too. This is a very long way from where I started three years ago, where the only famous or influential photographer I knew was David Bailey. My knowledge and professionalism have improved greatly and I look forward to what the future brings.

1060 Words

 

References:

Creative Review. (2017). Trends in modern food photography – Creative Review. [online] Available at: https://www.creativereview.co.uk/trends-modern-food-photography/ [Accessed 14 Apr. 2017].

Pinkladyfoodphotographeroftheyear.com. (2017). Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year. [online] Available at: https://www.pinkladyfoodphotographeroftheyear.com/finalists-gallery-2017/ [Accessed 14 May 2017].

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Exhibition Layout Test

Once my wallpaper had arrived I took it to a fellow students place to test my layout in a large enough space and also get feedback.

My first disappointment came when I realised I had made a mistake in ordering my wallpaper. When looking at the mock up images on the web site I had not take in to consideration they were based on more than one roll per wall, what this meant is that I have ordered the print too large, so I have lost a little of the desired kaleidoscope effect, I do still have the mirrored effect repeated does each sheet and the abstract nature is still very present.

Then on to my table mats, I am really pleased with the print quality of these, they have a lovely glossy finish and the images are still as vibrant as they would appear on my screen. I did order two more from the company after I had received them because I wasn’t completely happy with the frozen junk food images. I felt these were not as strong as perhaps just the cropped images were. Also because the kiwi wasn’t frozen it became the odd one out in the set. With the unfrozen junk food images the set becomes much stronger.

After some discussion and suggestion from Sam, we rearranged the layout into two sets of five images, Five Healthy and Five Junk, This strengthened both sets and gives the layout a more coherent flow. Before we had come to this conclusion I was feeling happy with the junk food images, in comparison to the colourful healthy images they are bland and less exciting. However as a set in their own right they become much stronger and interesting.

 

This layout is the one I am likely to use for the exhibition.

A close up of the mats on the wallpaper, I am really pleased with the vibrance and contrast of the wallpaper and mats together.

Evaluation

I feel this module has been successful for me in a number of ways.  I learned towards the end of last year my own best working practice, I have really had the opportunity to hone these skills this semester. I always have a tenancy to work tight to my deadlines and spent some time fighting with this trying to change my practice, however what I have understood is that I produce my best work later into the evening and closer to my deadlines.  Making peace with this has allowed me to really work with my strengths and pull together my learning and skills from the first two years of degree study.

The starting place was to be organised, I printed lists, weekly and monthly diaries to fill out and stuck up in my working space. Knowing what work I had and when I should complete it has really helped me to stay on top of my assignments, not just for the module but for this semester. I have really enjoyed the concepts and planning module, the information and lectures have been engaging and supportive. One of the things I have found most beneficial is the time  to really get to grips with my desired outcome. Full time for researching and testing without the pressure of producing any final images has been very beneficial to my planned outcome and development. I have really enjoyed having the time to discover other practitioners and artists that inspire me, also to rediscover artists I have loved since my GCSE days.

Though I have said the module was successful,  this is because some tests produced unsuccessful results. This as a great thing because it has given me  clarity on how I wish to move forward with my work. The key things that have come out of this for me are the need  to work in a larger space as well as my small set up. I need to be working alongside another professional either a food stylist or a chef with an understanding of composition. I have to focus my research efforts towards my own desired outcome. I become distracted by such a varied source of imagery I try to work with too many examples. I need to focus this down  to produce the abstract aesthetic I aim to achieve. I will look in detail at Maren Carusos work, this is the feel I would like to achieve within my own work. Lighting is key and I will add in flash lighting to see how this effects my final images. As well as smaller details such as spraying with water or oil and building up colour and layers. I need to give full consideration towards the end of year exhibition and I have been developing my ideas. I will researching this in detail over the Christmas break and will look forward to the challenge of putting together this exhibition with my fellow students.

Ultimately I have a way to go but I am enjoying testing and researching so plan to continue with this over the Christmas break,  I will be ready to go full steam in to creating my final project and being part of a brilliant end of year exhibition.