Assignment 1 – Self Assessment

Salisbury Academy Head of Art

Salisbury Academy Head of Art

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

I took a simple technical approach to assignment 1 to ensure my focus remained on the subjects and not the camera or lighting. In the context of the common approach objective I set myself I was satisfied with the lighting but on review I am now questioning whether creating more interesting lighting subject by subject would have been preferable.

The composition of the head shots was challenging, I specifically rejected the face on pose as too confrontational or too Thomas Ruff for this particular subject and it wouldn’t have created the sense of the heroic that I was looking for. However, on review I suspect the chosen pose would have worked better if there had been more empty space for the subject to look into.

The composition of the wide angled shots worked well and includes the distortion of the space and inclusion of floor and ceiling that I aiming for.

Quality of Outcome

This assignment brings together ideas that have arisen from the study of Brandt, Penn and Sanders and from other general reading. I believe that the essay accompanying the assignment brings out the relevant points but I found it challenging to write about the development of identity idea which at one level is very obvious and therefore difficult to describe in an interesting way.

Demonstration of Creativity

By choosing to take the portraits in a make-shift studio I probably limited the opportunity for creativity or experimentation. The aspect I am pleased about is my continued experimentation with a very wide angled lens; I used this lens a few times during Context and Narrative but since starting this course I have used it for all three portrait shoots, this one, the Square Mile and the People at Work series. At a practical level it allows me to work close to the subject whilst still capturing contextual background and full body shots and at a presentational level the distortion adds a level of unpredictability to the results; as a result the portraits feel less clinical.


This first section of the course has been interesting and I am reasonably happy with my research and reflective writing but portraiture is a such a vast subject that it has been and will continue to be difficult to focus on appropriate research streams that lead towards the assignments; I am glad that I looked at Diane Arbus in such depth and it is good background for street photography but didn’t really help with this assignment other than convincing me that I wanted portraits that were about the subject and not the photographer.

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