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Gaslight Photography

Feedback to Date

As mentioned before this section of the course is entitled Networking and Feedback and the objective is to create a network of contacts with the intention, at this stage, of obtaining feedback on my main portfolio. The recommendation is to start this module before completing the Body of Work so that the feedback will “improve” the portfolio before assessment. For various reasons I didn’t get the opportunity to get to that stage of this module before the portfolio assessment so I’ll be using this module to improve the portfolio before my final exhibition or publication.

However, I was aware of the purpose of this module, or at least this section, of the module so I created a group or “coterie” of friends and colleagues and solicited critique from them in the same way. This “coterie” consisted of artists and photographers though none are full-time professionals.

One benefit of using this group in this fashion was that they were helpful in selecting the final images, ensuring that they worked well together. This is something that I would not be able to obtain via the profession network being created in this module.

An example comment was

 I suggest dropping 15 and 7 for thematic reasons. I. don’t feel they fit  with the theme of a walk progressing from one image to the next.  In all of the other pictures you can see a path that could take you to the next step of the walk. There is no clear path forward from these 2. They are more illustrative of dead ends.

another was

when I see a collection of shots such as these, I always look at the overall colour tone so for me I would take out 14 and 15 as they look tonally different from the others. I know it is probably due to a seasonal difference but that’s how I view it. And maybe also no. 12 as whilst it is a lovely image it is strikingly different from the others. Coincidentally the remaining images also adhere to the theme of a passage through a barrier which comes out well in the portfolio.

There were too many critiques, some of them in depth, to include here but it was a very useful exercise. For me an interesting aspect of the replies was the fact that the artists (i.e. painters) and photographers approached it very differently. The former would look at individual images and, in some cases only, look to see if they worked as a whole. The photographers took the opposing view and began by looking at the theme, then the sequencing and only at the end did they really study the individual images. I have no idea if this is typical but it was very marked in the group that I created.

Obviously, having finished the previous module, Body of Work, my final portfolio from that course was assessed and I received comments from the assessors. Given that this section is all about feedback it seems sensible to address any issues from the comments here. They were generally positive as you’d hope with a 2:1. An example is:

Very competent technical and visual skills. Competent realisation of ideas, presented well, showing consistency in judgement. Effective grasp of ideas and communication of visual ideas.

Given that the whole point of the portfolio is to get an idea across and communicate an idea I was obviously pleased with that. Also:

Good synthesis of analytical thinking, integrating some significant independent judgements and articulating a personal creative voice.

and finishing with

a professional and committed attitude towards building a strong and personal body of work

Again perfect for what I was trying to do so I was happy with that. Conversely I was criticised for no evidence of risk-taking but I was comfortable with that. I’d taken risks in previous modules and in this one I knew what I wanted, how I wanted to get the message across.

The biggest problem that I have, not with the comments but how to address the issue, comes with:

Your submission shows the decisions you made between assignment 4 and your final assignment, cropping and editing your selection of images. The most successful images are not always in the final selection, and in several cases the smaller scale, aspect ratio and composition, and lustre of the print are stronger.

Firstly the issue of aspect ratio. I made a conscious decision to follow up on my tutor’s suggestion that a 5×4 ratio might work better than a 3×2. When I tried it I felt that the first ratio created more of a portal effect whereas the original, wider ratio created a panorama which was contrary to my intentions. Obviously the assessors disagreed, at least in part.

More annoyingly I deliberately had the final images printed professionally at a larger size to show off the detail but again the assessors preferred, in some cases, the smaller size. The final comment about the lustre is the one that really hurts. The professional prints were not cheap and the assessors preferred the lustre of my own prints!!! Oh well, I need to think about my exhibition but at the moment I think that I’m making my own prints at A3 and getting them professionally mounted.

On a final note, I’d continually tried to ensure that my Contextual Studies work complemented my Body of Work portfolio and the assessors’ comments with regards to this were:

You have produced an engaging and original piece of work which runs parallel to your BoW project in a productive and inquiring way…….You are careful to continually pull your CS research back to the specific focus of your BoW (Windsor Great Park) and this has resulted in a reflective and critical piece of written work which complements, extends and enhances your practical project. (my emphasis)

That’s exactly what I was intending and I’m glad that it worked. I always intended keeping my essay or thesis alongside my portfolio, to the extent of making sure that it was available in some form from the exhibition and this has convinced me that I was right to think along those lines.

Anyway, that’s a summary of the feedback to date. Now to pull a PDF together and solicit more, external feedback as part of the module.

One final addition, I showed my assessment prints together with my Assignment 5 images to a group of people who came round for a long lunch. The interesting aspect was that they agreed with the assessors that the assessment images lacked lustre compared to my prints …. or at least they did until the sun came out. At that point the assessment images came to life so that’s something tat I need to be very aware of in my exhibition.

Marketing

The main reason that I’m taking my time about these early tasks is that I want to get my website ready before sending out my request for feedback to various people. The PDF that I send will have links back to the images on the website for the reviewers to see the images in a larger format on the web.

This issue of the website is doubly important since I cornered a marketing consultant friend and asked (more precisely, interrogated) her about marketing strategies for a small concern. Given that a large part of this module is about marketing, getting one’s work out to the market, becoming “known” etc. it seems to be an important element that isn’t really stressed in the module or not as far as I’ve seen to date.

She was approaching specifically from the point of view of her own company, she now runs a tour guide operation in Windsor after leaving her marketing role, but the key principles remain the same. There were only the two critical elements

  1. Get your website and social presence going, make it look professional and integrate everything
  2. Always respond to queries or contacts quickly and professionally

All very simple if you say it quickly but it is a precis of most of the information that I’ve found elsewhere.

So getting the website up was a critical early task but I’m well aware how much work needs to be done on it by the end of the module to complement my intended exhibition.

Firstly, there’s obviously a need for the images which will be in the PDF to be on the site which is simple enough. They’ll change over the next few months but that’s a start.

Next, I need to boost the SEO scores. Again, not too difficult. There are numerous online strategies for this and my background as an IT consultant comes in useful here.

Social media is a necessary evil which I’ll need to embrace if I’m to do this properly. I’ll need to resurrect my Facebook account, create an Instagram account and automatically populate the two from the website with new images as required.

A trivial but important method to publicise is the use of signatures in email so I’ve created a more professional looking one that links back to my site. There are a number of free programs that will create one for you but all of the free versions include an advert for their product or simply don’t work with Outlook.

The screenshot in this format looks like a business card – something else that I’ll need to have available at the exhibition.

In terms of the more traditional methods there’s a local newspaper which I’ll need to contact , either to pay for an advert in the What’s On section or see if I can get them to write a short article. Given the local interest and style of the paper it’s definitely a possibility.

The local council themselves ave a website with details of What’s On so I need to get into that.

Finally I need to ensure that I’m involved in the local community. My consultant friend is happy to work with the local Tourist Information Centre to offer guided walks at a much lower rate than she would normally charge, all in the name of being involved and getting further work. It’s no different for a photographer, by offering my services to the community I should raise my profile and have the opportunity for further, real, work if required.

All of this is a bit strange since I have no intention of becoming a professional photographer but do want to get my work out there so this marketing theme is feels a bit strange since there’s such an implicit commercial element to the whole process.

 

Artist’s Statement

The final element of the personal information trio required by the course is the Artist’s Statement. There are obviously two types of this, firstly there’s the all-encompassing form which covers the artist’s complete work and describes the common threads that link the various portfolios and works together. Then there’s the more specific one that links to a particular body of work, much as we were asked to provide for the previous module, Body of Work.

Since the only portfolio that I’m publicising during this module is that portfolio then I’m just going to continue using that. If I need to introduce other works in parallel I’l create another specific Statement for that pf and an all-encompassing one to link the works together.

Sine I didn’t receive any criticism of my portfolio-specific statement from my tutor in BoW nor did the assessors comment on it I’ll just assume that it’s OK for now though it will almost certainly change before any exhibition.

Artist’s Statement

      The majority of visitors to Windsor Great Park follow the same routes as their predecessors, constrained by their own preconceptions of the area, afraid to leave the beaten path and create their own experience. These preconceptions have been created by images and text in magazines and social media, an imagined geography that develops the Tourism Space that is Windsor Great Park and is then itself modified by that Tourism Space.

     In my exploration of the Park I’ve come to love those other areas, the ones that lie outside of this predefined space requiring the visitor to step off the beaten path and explore.

    Each of these images shows a glimpse of that “other side”, accessible to those who would leave the beaten path and discover their own world, treating the rabbit hole as a portal rather than as a barrier.

About => Biography

Having written the About Page the Bio flowed quite easily so here’s a first draft though it is likely to change a lot – even before my tutor gets to see it.

Bio

Growing up in the busy coastal area of North Wales I soon discovered the joys of leaving the tourist trails and exploring  the beaten track, discovering the wildlife, forests and rugged beauty of Snowdonia. Moving down to the South East I thought that I’d lost the opportunity but I discovered that Windsor Great Park afforded the chance to explore in a similar, but more cultivated, way whilst photography trips to Africa and Asia only increased my love of wildlife and nature.

     Retirement afforded the opportunity to explore, both locally and abroad and I came to enjoy the tranquillity and serenity of these extremes. On the one hand was the Park, home to the Kings and Queens of England whilst, on the other hand, was the wilderness and vast open expanse of Africa.  During this period, I started studying for a BA Photography degree to help capture these beautiful environments and pass that beauty on to others.

     My work has since been featured in the Guardian Magazine, the Observer, Country Life and other magazines and I’ve been fortunate enough to have two prize-winning images exhibited at the Joe Cornish Gallery in Yorkshire.  

     A love of all things Italian, including the language, fills what little time I have left during the day.

Gaz

About Page

OK, I’ll just duplicate the “About Page” here so that the flow of the blog makes sense. The formatting is a bit off in the post compared to the page but it should make sense.

 

 

        Gaz Williams is a nature photographer based in Windsor, Berkshire. His early life in North Wales, living next to the sea but with access to the forests, rivers and rugged mountains of the area inspired in him a love of nature. Avoiding the crowds led him to develop a love of exploring, of leaving the beaten path inhabited by the many, and discovering those hidden areas, accessible only to the adventurous.

 

     His prize-winning work has twice been exhibited at the Joe Cornish Gallery in Northallerton, Yorkshire and full-page commercial images have appeared in the Guardian Magazine, the Observer, Country Life and other magazines. His travel photography has taken pride of place on the brochures of companies to highlight travel to those out of the way places, away from the crowds.

 

     His first solo exhibition, featuring the hidden areas of Windsor Great Park, will be held late 2018