Thursday, 27 February 2014

Marco Marzocchi - Photo Essay Example

“I want so much that is not here and do not know where to go.” C. Bukowski
I was born here 40 years ago.
The longest I have been away from this place was for 3 months, when
 I was in my twenties. Except for that, one could say I spent my
whole life here"
Info from:

Mandy Williams - Built Environment/Natural World/Abstraction/ Documentary

This mulifacted photographer has a fantastic eye for detail, composition and atmosphere. Her work can inspire many different directions and approaches to your subject. If you're looking at Photo Essay, the Built Environment or Close Up Mandy Williams is worth a look at.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Close Up - A different viewpoint

The question of 'close-up' is really focused on observing the details that otherwise go unnoticed. Donna Ferato does this in a documentary format. You could approach 'Close Up' as an intricate study of a person or place. Sometimes people appear a certain way on the outside, but a closer inspection suggests things aren't always as they seem. An emotive and personal take on the theme...


Lewis Baltz is best known as one of the icons of the 'New Topography' movement in photography of the late seventies. Presented together in the exhibition 'New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-altered Landscape' in 1975 (Rochester, NY), this group of young photographers brought a shift in landscape photography in showing the images of a world far removed from an heroic vision of America. This move was also illustrated by the subject matter of urban and suburban realities under change, as well as the photographers' commitment to a critical and ironic eye of contemporary American society. Thirty years after its opening, this exhibition still remains one with the strongest impact on landscape photography world-wide in its attempt to define both objectivity and the role of the artist in photographic creation. Lewis Baltz' contribution to the show consisted of photographs of an industrial warehouse complex in Southern California, in which the images of blank concrete walls and prefabricated buildings offer a critical position toward the claustrophobia of urban life. Often displayed in a grid format, it is important to Lewis Baltz that these pictures are seen collectively as a group or series, as for him one image should not be taken as more true or significant than another. Through his original approach, Lewis Baltz most clearly embodies the essence of the movement’s critical depiction of the American landscape. This, according to some authors, makes him more closely aligned with conceptual art than with traditional photography.
             Info from:


Lee Friedlander is an iconic photographer famous for his abstract capturing of reflections, shadows and shapes. He uses the man-made surfaces around him to create dynamic and visually stimulating imagery.



Takashi Kitajima - Abstraction in Cityscapes

If you're looking for something a bit different to do with 'The Built Environment' try playing with the focus and depth of field. These images have a beautiful, tranquil, twinkly quality that contrasts with the (assumed) chaos below.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Copying VS. Innovation - How to get High Grades

I've had lots of questions recently about 'how to achieve a high grade'. I'm talking about the difference between achieving in the C/D bracket and the A/B bracket. As you've probably all noticed there's quite a big leap from a C grade to a B grade.

The grade boundaries are very high, this is the case with most Art and Design subjects but particularly true of Photography, which has the highest boundaries of all the A&D subjects. To get an 'A' grade this year you will need to get at least 76 out of 80. Alongside this you will need to have achieved a high grade last year (all of the marks are added up)

So an 'A' grade is not the easiest thing to achieve, though it is doable. However, there are plenty of you who could potentially move your work into the 'B' grade category if you focus on a few simple things.

The most important thing to note about high grades is that they are given to students whose work is INNOVATIVE.

To clarify that, this is what Google says:

adjective: innovative
(of a product, idea, etc.) featuring new methods; advanced and original.
"innovative designs"
 What we are looking for is work that leads to original ideas. For a higher grade I need to see, towards the end of your sketchbook, a leaning towards your own specialist area of interest.
Your contextual research is meant to influence your work, particularly early on, but ultimately I am looking for a gradual increase in innovation and originality.
To roughly summarise....
A C/D grade piece of work will feature the following things:
  • Thorough research which links to ideas and themes
  • Research includes own opinions and observations as well as relevant biographical info
  • Clear layout and general development in one or two areas
  • Some experimentation with various techniques and processes
  • Clearly documented tracking of ideas through reviews and evaluations
  • Linking to research through the successful 'mimicking' of the work of others
  • Images are reasonably well taken but can be slightly repetitive
  • Work is heavily influenced by the layouts, ideas and composition of others
  • Work generally concludes with a review and final piece which looks back over what has been achieved in the project
 An A/B grade piece of work will feature the following things:
  • Highly investigative research from a variety of sources which is highly relevant to ideas and themes. This relevance is clearly explained both visually and verbally
  • Research is highly reflective and includes arguments, opinions and links to own thoughts and ideas. Research is reflected upon in a personal way.
  • Exceptionally clear development with some diversions for experimentation. Work leads in one direction and becomes narrower in its focus as the project concludes.
  • Excellent experimentation both visually and contextually- use of studio, darkroom, film types, composition, staging, layouts, interpretations. 
  • Ideas are clearly tracked and project progress can be clearly seen at a 'glance' of the sketchbook
  • Research has an impact on images, and echoes of the style of others can be seen but is not dominant. Images taken are not a direct 'copy' of the work of others
  • Images are well taken and project has an excellent sense of pace - the theme has not been allowed to become 'stale' and repetitive
  • Work is innovative; drawing on a variety of research sources, opinions and own investigations to generate original images and a highly personal response
  • The project concludes with a poignant and substantial body of work in the form of an exceptionally well-presented and justified final piece. This will have been well-considered and reasoning will be evident to the viewer.

The Difference Between AS and A2
During your AS year you will have, no doubt, developed a systematic approach to your projects which worked well for you and earned you your grade. 
It is important, at this stage, to reconsider and tweak your approach. The A2 requires that you step up the originality and allow your creative voice to speak. 
By all means do use the things you learned in your AS year; the habit of evaluating and reviewing, any key names for research, use of Photoshop and camera skills, use of the darkroom. But be wary of working through your projects without much 'soul'.
Our first unit was a big change from the projects of last year, you were given more time to allow a further, personal, element to develop. Ensure that you have made the most of this in your first project and be conscious of it during the exam project.
CHECK through your Unit 3 Sketchbook and ask yourself the following questions:

  •  Does your work genuinely develop or is it a bit repetative?
  •  Did you reach a real conclusion? Is this clear?
  •  Are your images of a good quality? 
  •  Are your images original or are they just a 'copy' of your research?
Be honest with yourself when reflecting upon your own work and you will find it far easier to adjust and improve your grade.

Throughout the exam project you must aim to be INNOVATIVE. Be original but base the foundations of your ideas in the work of others. No artist ever creates work from thin air - there is always an influencing factor but it is PERSONAL COMMENT on these factors that enables us to communicate our own interpretations of the world.


"Berenice Abbott can be considered the photographer of New York City.During the 1930s she embarked on a project to capture the transformation of New York into a modern urban center. Abbott was particularly interested in the physical changes that the city had undergone, its changing neighborhoods with huge skyscrapers replacing older low-rise buildings. She began a series of documentary photographs of the city as part of a Federal Works Project Administration initiative carried out from 1935 to 1939.

 At the end of the project, she published her photographs as a book entitled Changing New York. Abbott favored a straightforward, yet dynamic, style that featured strong contrasts and dramatic angles. “Photography can never grow up if it imitates some other medium,” Abbott said, “it has to walk alone; it has to be itself.” 


Ellen Jantzen - 'Point and shoot @70mph'

Some of you may remember being in the back of the car as a child on a long journey and watching the motorway lights and buildings streaming past the window in a blur. I particularly remember looking at the white lines in the road and the orange glow of urban roads at night. Ellen Jantzen's work captures this same sleepy sense of movement, though due to location her work often features landscape. I particularly like the images which include houses, windmills and man made structures, solitary within the blur of colour and light. A different look at the built environment.

Pipo Nguyen - duy

The Garden

"The Garden is a collection of large color photographs documenting a series of abandoned greenhouses located approximately 45 minutes from Oberlin, Ohio. I hope to photograph these abandoned structures to chart the various stages of growth and decay throughout the year. Aesthetically, The Garden is a departure from my other work. With this new project, I am trying to objectively documenting rather then to subjectively staging. In The Garden I use the camera to record facts rather then to use it as a subjective tool . Conceptually, this body of work is similar to another work in progress entitled East Of Eden. Metaphorically. The Garden is an inquiry into the Garden of Eden as an abandoned site. As if from the perspective of a natural scientist or archeologist, I have become increasingly intrigued with the idea of the abandoned greenhouses as a future relic of a  man-made Garden of Eden. Beyond serving as metaphorical landscape, I hope that my images from The Garden will also serve as a document of a vanishing part of Ohio’s unique history."

Info from artist's website:!statements/c16dh 

Check out the website for the rest of the project images

Robert Adams - Elegant observations of space, built environments, landscapes and human inhabitants

Are there affirmable days or places in our deteriorating world? Are there scenes in life, right now, for which we might conceivably be thankful? Is there a basis for joy or serenity, even if felt only occasionally? Are there grounds
now and then for an unironic smile?


David Spero

"David Spero’s work is organised into simple categories, all of which demonstrate interests into overlooked locations and domestic spaces.
Spero’s work, while diverse in subjects, maintains a consistently quiet approach which is intended as gently enquiry rather than diatribe.

His most comprehensive bodies of work demonstrate an interest in the architecture of community.

Spero reveals the structures and lifestyles of ecological communities as in his Settlements series and documents the urban architecture appropriated for places of worship, as in Churches. With his latest work Ball Photographs, Spero invades domestic spaces (i.e bathrooms and dance halls) to artistically alter the interior architecture of the environment.
All of this, using a 5×4 field camera, otherwise known as an architectural shift camera."

Info from: 

Art Sinsabaugh

“At some point I became aware of the unbelievable infinite detail on the horizon; this is what drew my attention. So I set about to pursue the distant horizon.”
-Art Sinsabaugh, 1967


Harry Callahan - The Human Figure


Harry Callahan's work covered a range of topics using his unique appreciation of form. He was famously inspired by his wife Eleanor and she was considered his muse for a broad body of his work. He and his wife were supposedly inseparable. Some look upon Callahan's observations of Eleanor as a labor of love and adoration for her body and soul. Others, particularly feminist voices, have commented that, in his work, Eleanor is treated as an obedient possession, passive to his instructions. It is up to you how you interpret his study of his wife, but do note the interesting and creative ways in which he has represented her body. He has used a variety of contexts, settings and themes as well as editing methods to represent, not just her form, but her presence as he sees it.

Harry Callahan - Architecture

Harry Callahan's studies of architecture and the built environment focused on line, tone and form. He works well with shadows and overlaying of images to demonstrate links between urban environments and the humans that inhabit them.

We will be visiting the Harry Callahan exhibition at the Tate during out trip to London in March.

Stephen Shore - Observation of Detail

"The project was entitled American Surfaces, in reference to the superficial nature of his brief encounters with places and people, and the underlying character of the images that he hoped to capture......The result was hundreds and hundreds of exquisitely composed colour pictures, that became the benchmark for documenting our fast-living, consumer-orientated world. The corpus of his work - following on from Walker Evans' and Robert Frank's epic experiences of crossing America - influenced photographers such as Martin Parr and Bernd & Hilla Becher, who in turn introduced a new generation of students to Shore's work."

 Description from: