The Art of Photography:Mike Mudd's Learning Log

TAOP Assignment 5 re work after Tutors commentsAssignments

Posted by Mike Mon, October 07, 2013 14:45:56

This is probably my second last post to my TAOP OCA blog, I am near the point of handing over all the content I have created for this module, for the dreaded formal assessment.
Prior to this conclusion though, is this entry, detailing my reworking of assignment 5 - Narrative and illustration.
My original version of this assignment was heavily critiqued by my tutor Rob, and rightly so to be honest. The first version, listed here reflected my over procrastination with this assignment and I cannot really volunteer and criticism of my tutors comments.

Firstly, my material for the first version was created in one shoot, with no reccy to test the ideas, the lack of scope for the narrative of the story was reflected in this. the images, though some were interesting were either lacking for the story, or were diverting the focus away from the actual subject and lacked an introduction for the main characters. My tutor also advised that I am prone 'to seeing and interpreting too much meaning from my images'. In this second version of the assignment I hope that I have been more true to the story and kept to the needed and necessary content.

Here is the second version of the pseudo magazine narrative which I offer for formal assessment:
The images in sequence are here:

TaoP Submission: Assignment 5 'Narrative and Illustration"Assignments

Posted by Mike Mon, July 15, 2013 21:45:27

OCA: TaoP Assignment 5: Narrative

12 Images on the theme of Illustration and Narrative

Assignment Aim:

To illustrate a story in the mode of a magazine assignment

Selected story – An easy days training for two team cyclists


1. Freeman, M. (2012) Michael The Photographer’s story Lewes: The Ilex Press.

2. Hunter, F. et al (2007) Light: Science and Magic: an Introduction to Photographic Lighting (3rd Edition). Burlington, MA. Focal Press.

3. Montizambert D. (2003) Creative Lighting Techniques for studio photographers, (2nd Edition). London, Amherst Media.

Online references:

Image storage Locations for viewing:

Summary statement:

This assignment presented an opportunity to demonstrate the idea of a connected flow and sequence of a story, and to singularly illustrate a subject with the introductory image. The potential for a story was not necessarily the difficult element of the assignment. More difficult was employing the elements of previous assignment and exercise experience and learning within the story board of images. These elements of course would provide photographic stimulus to the viewer.

My initial ‘potential’ themes for this story presented fairly sound ideas – a day in the life of a homeless man, the experience of students and lecturers in preparation for a degree show, a study of the close relationship between a teenage girl and her horse.

All of these themes presented a good potential for a story sequence, but all of these stories fell over for different reasons, but for the latter two these reasons were by and large photographic;

· Not being capable to exercise change when ‘planned shots ‘do not appear before the camera.

· Discomfort in photographing scenes with multiple people and not engaging with the subject matter – resulting in images which lacked stimulating composition, colour, shape and therefore illustration of the subject matter. This also resulted in image sets all with same focal length and similar framing – again too easy to record and therefore dull to look at as a result

· Collation of imagery which in illustration is too similar as a group and therefore lacking story variation, story peak termination and coda (Freeman: 2012).


Stimulating storyboard imagery requires an interesting subject matter which is aided by changing environments which can present opportunities in photography in terms of lighting, shape and colour, and also maintaining narrative interest. Considerations in making additions to the story – i.e. new characters or activities helps keep the story fresh for the viewer, in this case the use of the car and photography from the car/cameraman’s point of view. Changes in camera framing and composition also aid the visual interest to the story set – and previous attempts at this assignment certainly proved that. Essentially, it has taken three attempts to satisfy the demands of the assignment in terms of initially separating and recognising the story’s photographic and narrative needs – and then bringing these components back together.

Vivian MaierGeneral Reading

Posted by Mike Mon, July 01, 2013 19:33:29

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The recent Alan Yentob BBC production provided an illuminating modern reflection upon the work of Vivian Maier, a modern reflection in that there is so little known about this very private individual, and we only have our modern interpretation of her work now she has passed away.

After surveying the many references upon twentieth century photography and street photography, via TAOP and wider reading it is easy to assume that these same references affected her work, though it is a pleasing thought to consider that this New York Nanny to the children of upper and middle class New York operated outside these reference works - under her own influence and in isolation from the same works which influence my works as a student at the OCA.

The images so far released of Maiers work are both observant, intimate, strong and not without humour, though compared to the works of William Klein and other New York street photographers they are not aggressive or intrusive. This distinction from other works of the same period is perhaps a reflection of her sex, and of course of the head down non eye contact photographer via the Roliflex camera.

most markedly in my mind is the suggestion that her photography was such an acute and composed practice, with each of the twelve frames in each roll of film that was exposed in her Roliflex was a quality image - considered and well captured both technically with a fully manual camera and compositionally in attraction - reflecting in my mind that Maier was certainly an unacknowledged master of her art.

It can only be guessed upon, but to imagine her reaction to he current posthumous fame across the globe may not have been so agreeable to such an intensely private individual.

Chew your food of course - but NOT THAT MUCH!! ruminations over assignment 5 - Narrative in TAOPThoughts and Reflections

Posted by Mike Mon, July 01, 2013 19:13:11

Now, lesson learned here, whenever you believe something will be a walk in the park.... it WON'T be!!!

For assignment 5 I had a range of different ideas as a narrative project; in my mind therefore I thought I would have it in the bag fairly early. However, there are a plethora of issues with this easy attitude.

1. Too many ideas - all too briefly interrogated.

2. Time is never your ally - ensure you dedicate good time, with time to think about your photography when your at/in the shoot.

3. Addressing a story is one thing, to address it and reflect upon the skills/ learning acquired during The Art of Photography is quite another.

4. Self belief - always lacking and always breeding doubt - conviction and self belief are in my top 5 of things I'm poor at.

5. Editing..... such a slow and arduous process - especially when you lack belief!

6. When shooting, you will have pre-conceived ideas of the result, however when things don't meet your expectations be dynamic - change your idea set and get the best that you can - it may be better that your original idea anyway!

Now I have E-mithered my tutor a couple of times, and indeed have ducked out of a phone conversation with him today, however my issues of deliberation and self doubt are mine and not his, and are an element that I must overcome if I am to be successful as a photographer, photo editor and archivist of my own content.

After having essentially four primary ideas to focus on, the running is now down to two themes. However, at the moment I feel that the content I have from both projects does no reflect well upon the elements I have studied within the chapters of TAOP - i.e. shape and composition, balance/inbalance of shape and colour, contrast and light - while of course narrating and illustrating a story at the same time.

I've been re-editing an arrangement of each of these potential ideas for the assignment all day - I'm stopping now - time for a clear head!

Narrative and Illustration: RainModule Exercises

Posted by Mike Tue, May 28, 2013 21:42:31

The requirement of this exercise was to provide a single image with an emphasis on illustrating rain. The image could be generated for purpose or captured in the wilds... I chose the wilds.

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The umbrella is a relatively universal interpretation of rain, however in choosing this image I felt that the element of rain has been more positively transmitted into the conscious understanding. The inclusion of the car with it's rain drop covered roof enforces the message with its more graphic and less interpretative presence. If the image presented umbrellas alone then the message may have not been so overtly about rain, just inclement weather.

The depth of field selection, with the focus area being toward the nearer car roof, renders the umbrellas in the distance into a blur, and therefore a component of rather than the whole of the image narrative.

FirestormGeneral Reading

Posted by Mike Mon, May 27, 2013 16:20:20


The photograph of the Holmes family hiding from a violent bushfire in Tasmania was shared around the world. But what became of them? In a unique multimedia project, the family speak exclusively to the Guardian about the day their community was devastated, and the new breed of bushfire that is impossible to fight.

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On the morning of 4 January 2013, the people of Dunalley had watched with caution as a bush fire burned slowly on top of the hill. It was not an unusual occurrence – fires are a part of Australian life – and Dunalley had never been troubled before. They made their preparations, just in case. Even so, they had no idea what was about to hit them.

In the aftermath of the Inala Road fire, Jon Henley and Laurence Topham visited Dunalley. They spoke to the families there, shot video of the devastation and photographed the beautiful but deadly landscape. Minute by minute, they reconstructed what had happened – the residents, the emergency services … the moment the flames struck the first houses.

Firestorm explores what it means to live in a natural environment that has evolved to burn. Meteorologists and firefighters alike fear the growing ferocity of the fires it produces as Australia’s summers grow ever hotter. Scientific facts suggests that the Inala Road fire may have been just a hint of what is to come.

An hour-long drama of text and video, Firestorm combines the account of the day with photography and six exclusive films to create a rich, beautiful reading experience for your tablet or mobile device. Firestorm is the story of the terrifying fire, and of the remarkable and resilient character of its inhabitants as they seek to raise their homes from the ashes.

But most of all, it is the story of the family under the jetty, clinging on as Dunalley burned.

An interesting presentation, and possibly a new version of the printed narrative story, the Guardian team have drawn together a superb account of the experiences of the families affected by this devastation, the images are both intimate, personal and still show a landscape of scale...

Narrative assignment looming – thoughts while developing ideas….Assignments

Posted by Mike Mon, May 27, 2013 12:10:46

Narrative assignment looming – thoughts while developing ideas….

Browsing the shelves of Waterstones' a few days back, debating whether to add a tenner to the twenty quid voucher in my pocket – the debate is between Vivian Maier and Bill Brandt… then as I review the prices… and mull over the idea that I’ve just re –read Badger and Cotton…. Up pops Michael Freeman’s ‘The Photographers Story’… I need some new reading material and with this serendipitous moment... I buy the Freeman book… the right choice with TAOP assignment 5 looming.

TAOP so far has very much being about the practicalities of seeing with a camera. Story telling has not been within the brief until now. The idea is easy to digest - a photo essay with an overriding theme, in fact, the ideas is too easy and therein lies the problem; pick a subject, go out and shoot and then present a story that you think shows a story. However, what you as photographer may initially be swept away with – this narrative run of images, may, if you’re not careful provide boring for another viewer – this is where the Serendipity of Freemans book comes in…

As Freeman states there is a classic Narrative formula, which lends itself to the photo essay, introductory images, openers, establishment shots climax, closers and coda. The language is appropriate as it works – and has proven itself to work in that a thousand and one various colour supplements have presented themselves and inspired their readers over most of the Sundays of the latter half of the twentieth century.

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I have 2 or 3 possible stories to run for this assignment, and I haven’t quite settled on which one will win through yet… we shall see. I have chosen both stories to take me out of my comfort zone – they are environments and people that I do not normally interact with during my usual routines. The choices for story I have made have made for exciting prospects to photograph but I know that I must in still some discipline and planning into the images I collect - both planned and candid - to provide the narrative sequence for the story. There is a potential to be washed away with image collecting and end up reviewing a belt of images which provide no sequence of events. A further issue is to what extent I forego the individually dramatic illustrative photograph in pursuit of the story – I will find out as I shoot both themes.

A selection of contemporary art involved and photographic individuals reflect on their relationships current and historic with photographsGeneral Reading

Posted by Mike Sun, May 19, 2013 21:04:02