Received 11 Jun 20
A thorough piece of work with some recommendations below on how to refine your argument by leaving our certain existing images and focusing more on the thematic of your chosen image.
Feedback on assignment
A good piece of writing with interesting points made. Rather than using your word count to include an opening description of the image of Alex Salmond however (which I think moves into slightly different territory) I would be more inclined to use an example of a more recent photographer who also explored working class culture in documentary practice/portraiture in a less constructed way – perhaps Jim Mortram’s portraiture in Small Town Inertia (https://www.bjp-online.com/tag/jim-mortram/) or even Daniel Meadow’s The Bus – a long-form community portrait project https://www.photobus.co.uk/.
You mention that you ‘had naively accepted Brandt’s early British work as straightforwardly representational and was, at first, disappointed to learn in research for this essay that many
images were staged’. In fact, it could be argued that it is the relationship of the photographer to his or her subject and the context within which the work is made that is of more importance than whether or not a photographer has re-arranged the objects within her field of vision (or indeed, used a lens which in distorting the field does so anyway.) Both Meadows and Mortram – unlike Brandt – developed long-standing relationships with their subjects which of course is very different with Brandt’s relationship to his. (Your citation of Lange’s Migrant Mother is very apt here. Again, I’d be tempted to write a little more on the subsequent re-reading of Migrant Mother rather than including the image of the falling man (which I think really needs an essay all to itself, so shocking is it’s effect).
Other than these points for possible adaptations, you chosen an interesting subject, write well about the construction of the image itself and have research the making of the images in some depth. The piece is well annotated too.
I look forward to discussing your next submission shortly.
Thanks for your feedback. I was trying to use the Salmond pic and Falling Man as extreme examples to work my way through (my view of) the analytical techniques, but I see that I would have been better off choosing counter examples that make better contrasts with Brandt’s approach. I’ll rework it along the lines you suggest, but I might use other contrast examples.
I am still working on the zine and it has become a kind of summing up of my course overall, so that will need changing too. This might take a little longer than the end of the month. Unfortunately, my mother has just died too (at 99 1/2) and I have to learn to edit a video for distribution to family and friends as the funeral was held under the rather onerous Welsh restrictions. I’ll get Asg.5 in as soon as it’s ready.