Posted in Assignment 1 ~ Beauty and the sublime, Coursework, Research and Reflection

Assignment One -Tutor feedback

Following on from the phone call I had with my tutor Les Monaghan, he sent me this report of Assignment One. There’s nothing like such positive words to spur you onwards, I feel very inspired. Les has such a way of sparking, even more, fun into all the assignments, despite exploring fairly dark themes, or at least a divert from my usual colourful and happy photography, I feel inspired to continue down the road of psychoanalysis, childhood fears, nightmares and will do some appropriate contextualization, not just of photographers, but artists, writers, perhaps even textiles and mixed media.

“The key thing is your exploration, keep reading, thinking, remembering and playing!” Les Monaghan. 


Overall Comments

 An ambitious submission that fulfilled your brief. Further research always benefits a submission. In this case, it makes sense to hone down your submission to one, possibly two, ways of working. Great explorations though!

 Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Feedback notes from our phone conversation and some after thoughts:

Well done for challenging yourself and producing plenty of work.

Contextualization is always key whilst studying – who is influencing you, whose is the work that aligns with yours, look for historical and contemporary references.

We discussed how the work is serious, you are avoiding the glib in photography and trying to bring in theories and feelings. Very ambitious.

Your results look like you are searching, seeking answers in nature.

I wondered will this continue? Will you pursue psychoanalysis, exploring your childhood, ideas of the unheimliche?

Who else have you found working in this way or guided by these influences?

The ‘witches fingers’ is an exploration in its own right. We discussed what trees, and forests mean in contemporary culture, their resonances through fairy tales, whether we will ever escape our genetic memory of the forest.

I mentioned the forest in Japan, Aokigahara, near Mt Fuji, that is a notorious suicide spot, and that there has been work made there.

I suggested that you do some general research stuff on forests. We also talked about Liza Dracup, the photographer who retraced his grandfather and great uncle’s journey – Michal Iwanowski (, Sophy Rickett etc

We discussed your Rorschach ink blots, find art references for these, they could be a whole series in themselves, experiment, it could lead to a discussion of Barthes’ punctum and studium.

Those images that include movement, it might make sense to reference moving image work – The Cinematic he is a great resource

There are great experiments here, opening up lots of avenues for future work but for an individual assignment – or certainly the final submission – it makes sense to keep a really tight theme.

The rhythms and repetition that you’ve sometimes included really work. Editing is key, but we have plenty of time to look back over what you’ve produced the key thing is your exploration, keep reading, thinking, remembering and playing!

Take confidence from challenging yourself. There are a number of great starting points that you can build on here – there’s probably too many for an individual module but it’s good to see a thorough submission.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

Some decent reflection on other photographers, please cite where you found them, it is always better to start with books. Reflective writing is the key to learning, and I think that you are evidencing your thinking well so far.

Using the arguments put forward by critics will help you gain understanding and progress your engagement with photography. Which is why its so important to read as much, and as widely, as possible.

Here’s an interim reading list that I usually send out to students, some of these are included in the reading for various modules –

John Berger: “Ways of Seeing“ *

Graham Clarke: “The Photograph”

Ian Jeffrey: “Photography: A Concise History”

Susan Sontag: “On Photography”

Roland Barthes: “Camera Lucida” 

– five relatively old but excellent entry points into discussing photography.

Susie Linfield: “The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence“ 

– contemporary, personal and easy to read, much of it in response to Sontag and Martha Rosler

Liz Wells: “Photography : A Critical Introduction“ and “The Photography Reader”

David Bate: “Photography: Key Concepts”

Stephen Bull: “Photography“

Charlotte Cotton: “The Photograph as Contemporary Art” *

Susan Bright: “Art Photography Now”

David Campany: “Art and Photography”

Ashley la Grange: “Basic Critical Theory for Photographers”

-essential, (at least the first four) contemporary general photography works

Gerry Badger: “The Genius of Photography: How Photography Has Changed Our Lives“

* also on DVD or online

Mark Durden: “Photography Today”

Steve Edwards: “Photography: A Very Short Introduction“

* It really is short!

[no author / Phaidon]: “The Photography Book“ *

Martin Parr / Gerry Badger: “The Photobook: A History“

Geoff Dyer: “The Ongoing Moment” *

Mary Warner Marien: “100 Ideas That Changed Photography” *

– for when reading gets too heavy!

 Anne Jaeger: “Image Makers Image Takers” *

– insights from photographers, commissioners and writers

* Asterisked books are the most accessible

Put any reflections or reviews on your blog.

Suggested reading/viewing Context

As well as some of the books above, here are some online resources – much better to start with some critical websites –

 Pointers for the next assignment

Keep reading! Let your own interests, feelings and opinions guide your photography, but remember you are working academically.

Tutor name: Les Monaghan
Date 02/06/16
Next assignment due 02/09/16


Hi, I'm ChloeClik, artist, writer, photographer, musician, day dreamer and all round lover of life. I love so much in life and equally love to blog about it. I hope you enjoy sharing some of my adventures with me :)

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