This is my learning log for the OCA Ditigal Photographic Practice course

Thursday, 23 January 2014

OCA Thames Valley Group Meeting 18th January 2014

We were just a small group this time, me, Eddy, Carol, Alet and Martin. There was no tutor in attendance either so we were self directed although Eddy had told us that the afternoon’s discussion would be about Portraiture.
Eddy showed some work from his Gesture and Meaning course. He explained that his images were illustrating the styles of Constructivism, Conceptualism and Surrealism. I was only really interested in what he had to say about the course as the concepts he was describing are a bit beyond me at the moment. Although I will take advice, I think for level 2, I will stick with my first choices of Landscape and Documentary.
Both Alet and Martin were newcomers to the group and showed work from their Art of Photography course. The discussion that followed helped them with the direction that their work should follow, based on the experience of those of us who had successfully completed the course.
Last year I had tried an exercise photographing actors expressions on stage during a rehearsal for the farce “Trivial Pursuits”. I took 12 prints (3 of 4 different characters) In the hope that it would provoke a discussion about how successful I had been in capturing a range of expressions. (It was one idea for the final project of DPP)
Although the actors were aware of my presence, I was shooting randomly throughout the performance, trying to capture the fleeting moments of emotion. Lighting was difficult and depended the actors position on the set. I suppose it was inevitable that the discussion centred around which set of photographs worked best. Here is the set with the favourite presented at the bottom of the table:
DSC_4188 DSC_4106 DSC_4202
DSC_4089 DSC_4120 DSC_4117
DSC_4125 DSC_4085 DSC_4155
DSC_4050 DSC_4197 DSC_4145

The consensus was that the final set had better depth and worked together better. This is because this character spent a lot of time sitting on a bench at the front of the stage which made him an easier target. Despite the fact that I decided not to pursue this as a project for DPP, It was a useful exercise and I now have some people who are quite relaxed around me and could possibly help with future projects.
Afternoon discussion
I’m not quite sure why we were discussing portraiture again but the discussion took a similar course as last time with the questions of whether or not a portrait needed a person in the frame or was a collection of their possessions all that was needed to identify them. Eddy cited his auntie for whom certain items (I think knitting, a Tesco’s carrier bag and a bag of sweets or a type of biscuit) would all that would be required to identify her amongst family members.
We discussed personas and whether it was possible to find the hidden “person within” in a portrait. I concluded that it takes a fair amount of skill for a photographer to be able to do this and even then, the perception of the viewer may not allow it to come through. We discussed several examples from the recent Taylor Wessing visit but with such a complex and ethereal notion, we reached no firm conclusion.
Extending the idea of the inclusion of a figure in a portrait, the OCA Students Facebook group had posed the question earlier in the week and put up this link to provoke further discussion: I found this artist very interesting indeed. I will write a separate post very soon.

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