IAPA1 – Tutor Feedback

A1 Tutor Feedback

The Non Familiar

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Research Context and Critical Analysis Development Initial Submission

Tutor Feedback Reflection Rework Final Submission


Overall Comments

Many thanks for submitting this first assignment Stephen.

It was a really interesting series of monochrome portraits detailing the Nepalese community based in Aldershot.

Overall, this was a positive start to exploring this module, which should offer the opportunity for further development of both technical and conceptual skills.

As this is your first assignment submission, there are no previous feedback issues to reflect upon at this point in time.

Assessment Potential

You may wish to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of life-long learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you.  We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications.  Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit assignment 2.  I can then offer you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.  (Having spoken with you I understand it is your intention to go for assessment …. But I’m required by OCA to include this statement on the first feedback report.)

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
  • As mentioned, this assignment submission worked well and turned out to also be a really worthwhile exercise in my opinion. I even liked the initial idea of the five vicars …. which may also be worth pursuing anyway !
  • The narrative attached to the imagery was quite moving in terms of getting to know this community prior to shooting any portraits.  It was written with precisely this reason in mind !  Having spent some time in Darjeeling photographing Nepalese refugees, it was also a topic that I have personally been quite close to in the past …. which only added to my interest really !
  • I thought all the portraits worked really well together as a body of work, with attention to detail in terms of the sizing and positioning of the images, including the background focus etc.
  • You managed to capture sincerity within the portraits in terms of the facial expressions, which could have just ended up looking like just a series of ‘happy’ snap shots.  This was definitely to your credit and I’m hoping that perhaps Sander’s work might have contributed to informing this practice – if so, it might be worth mentioning this if you haven’t already done so, in relation to developing a critical position.
  • You pushed yourself out of the comfort zone for this assignment, which again was exactly what was being proposed here.  The value for you here is the understanding that these types of portraits do not just come from a ‘day out’ with the camera and actually require real planning and empathy from the photographer, in terms of understanding when the time is right to photograph and when it is not.
  • I also liked the fact that you converted the images to monochrome, but think you might be able to contextualize such a deliberate and significant act to better advantage – see the Flusser book suggested below, which contains some really interesting thoughts on the Colour v’s Monochrome debate.
  • As mentioned, this was a thorough and well considered body of work.



Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
  • Your coursework as detailed on the website is comprehensive and very well organized.  I had a good look through this and was impressed with the project specific content included. (Dog Walker / Christians Typology / Archival Lineage Portraits etc)
  • Keep up this level of attention to detail through the exercises, which I’m sure will help you when trying to tackle each assignment.



Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis  
  • Your research is progressing well and you have a reflective approach to contextualizing your creative output, which is good to see at this stage.
  • I noted a few typo’s within the texts which you might want to keep an eye on if at all possible.
  • Try to keep the written work as formal as possible, avoiding any temptation for humour or slang etc.
  • I did note that you had taken the opportunity to pass comment on the Guardian journalist Jonathan Jones, with reference to your Bailey image of Michael Caine.  Be very careful here !!! As an undergraduate student, you are not really in the position to make such comments …. unless you can find comments of a similar nature that have been made by historians / critics / academics etc … that you can reference and then agree with !  I did actually tend to agree with the points you had made in relation to Bailey’s work being under acknowledged, possibly in relation to his earlier fashion connection …  you are correct to highlight that his longevity and impact on the discipline can’t be ignored …. But there might have been better ways to have identified this point within your writings.
  • I will try and provide you with additional literature and practitioners with whom to engage with as we progress through the module.


Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis  
  • I have enjoyed reading your thoughts for both this assignment and your research and exercise work on the blog.  Keep this going !
  • The website took a little getting used to as it is so well organized and includes everything ! I did note that the Reviews / Photographers / Study Visits sections remain unpopulated at this point in time, which I’m certain is something that will be built upon as we progress through the module.
  • Navigation is excellent and referencing is all in order at this stage.
  • Try to get involved in some of the student forums (if you haven’t already done so) and also any study visits that you can attend would all add to the experience.  There is a Photographic Symposium (Photography Matters) being organized for 21st of this month in Doncaster, which might be of interest to you, depending upon geographic / time considerations etc.


Suggested reading/viewing


 I have just finished a powerful little book by Vilem Flusser called ‘Towards a Philosophy of Photography’ – It’s relatively cheap … so perhaps give it a try !

“The camera is structurally complex, but a functionally simple plaything. In this respect, it is the opposite of chess which is structurally simple, but a functionally complex game.”

Flusser, Vilem.1983: Towards a Philosophy of Photography. Reaktion Books. London.

ISBN: 978-1-86189-076-4


Pointers for the next assignment / assessment


  • Take a good look at the work of Jason Evans for this next assignment – I think you will really like his work !  Some of it is quite bizarre … but his portraits are amazing and he has worked with literally everyone !  He’s actually a friend of mine … so if you get in touch with him … mention my name !  His series entitled ‘Strictly’ now forms part of the V&A collection and used Sander’s work to inform it … which you can easily see from the portraits.