A vital part of the development process for creatives and artists is to receive honest critical feedback on their work. Surprisingly, this can be extremely hard to find. Good intentions – like the desire to avoid upset- can mean it is difficult for artists to know how their work is interpreted. Without this knowledge it takes many more experiments and failures to achieve growth.
Putting work out into the public sphere can be confronting, and we all make ourselves vulnerable when we do this. However, I think it is one of the best ways of getting a range of perspectives on a new work. Small comments can create big sparks, leading the artist off in a completely different direction…as it has been for me with the feedback on my preliminary work for the Project 1 submission in my Photography and Social Media course.
The task is to submit three photographs of the self. This may take many forms, including the personal self, the creative self, the professional self, the self as a brand. It could be through representations of the self through objects and symbolism, or through abstracting the self into body parts or the use of pre-sets and filters. I’ve experimented with a few of these forms, as you can see from previous posts in the Digital Journal.
Students in my course posted the preliminary work for the first assessment piece in a discussion forum. This was to enable feedback to be given. My post featured six possible images I was considering for the final submission.
The first three were in the style of photo realism, taken in front of a mirror with my DSLR camera. I began by trying to capture myself as a photographer, and then began to work with the symbolism of the camera being a “visual voice’. For these shots, I placed the camera over my mouth.
Abstractions taken with a DSLR (image 4) and with an app on the iPhone (photo 5 and photo 6).
Photograph 4 was taken on the same day as photographs 1, 2 and 3. I used Photoshop gradients and filters to distort the image, achieving a slightly abstracted style. This prompted me to get out the iPhone and use one of the new apps ‘Colorburn’ to experiment more with colour and fragmentation. Photographs 5 and 6 were the result.
Planned Submission Photographs
Reflecting on the styles and colours, I originally intended to submit a series of photographs which moved from photo-realism to abstraction.
These are three images I chose. Image 2 I intended to represent the Personal Self, Image 4 was to represent the creative self, and Image 6 was an alternative for the Creative Self:
Feedback on my Pre-work
The image I liked the most was Image 6, but all three of the people who critiqued my work rated it lower on their list because they felt it did not reveal anything about me. Maybe that’s one reason I did like it, but I also felt it was full of symbolism in relation to my personality. The greens and blues at the bottom representing my love of nature, the shadow side of the self represented by a darker profile on one side of the face. A clear open gaze and a brain exploding with colour and ideas complete the picture. The more I reflected on the feedback, the more I realised this image was for those who know me. It became my representation of the personal self.
Image 2 was considered strong by all of those who critiqued my work. It is a clear photograph with the camera at the centre. With a steady gaze and soft lighting, it became the obvious Professional Self photograph.
So what to do about the Creative Self photograph? Images 4 and 5 received more positive feedback than I had expected, so Image 5 came into consideration. In the end, an aside by Michelle (who suggested one of my mood boards may be included) meant that I didn’t use Images 4 and 5 at all. By using a mood board as the third photograph, I am also using an image which does not include my face. My creative self is represented by images, colours, tones and words which convey a personal style I carry with me into my creative world. This concept really appealed to me.
Another useful suggestions was to reverse the photographs where the brand name Canon appears to be reversed because of the mirror. This is to avoid viewers being distracted by the reversed text. I flipped image 2 and image 4, and played around with flipping some of the others. The reverse angle on Image 4 really changed the feel of the photograph.
After much consideration, these were the final three photographs I submitted. While it is too late to change my submission, I am interested in your views on the options.