Initial Ideas – Assignment Five |A Personal Project

Brief:

The rest of this course is devoted to your final assignment, a personal project. Although most professional photography is made by commission, often with very clear briefs, there are many photographers who set their own briefs and determine their own projects. They may simply wander around the world with their cameras in search of a picture. Or they’ll research a specific subject and then work out how best to make photographs of it. This personally motivated photography is often the place where you find the most innovation and experimentation. The final assignment is your chance to do whatever you want with photography. You’ve experimented widely throughout this course, practiced key technical and visual skills, and learned about different genres of photography. Now you can put all that into practice in your final work.

Genre

  • Of all the different subjects and approaches you’ve worked on and read about during this course, which attracts you most? • Which feels most natural to you? • Which feels the most challenging?

My main motive behind taking this course was to learn and develop skills to help me in the field of work that I already am – wildlife, besides getting to know more about different genres and trying my hand at it. Though not many opportunities of actually applying examples from the wild presented during the course, it greatly improved my overall skills as a whole and I could see the learnings help me in the field to produce better images.

The most challenging and the ones that I ended up enjoying the most were Part II & IV, as both of these genres I did not have much experience in. I never had a chance or an inclination rather learn or experiment with either of these two genres – lighting I still knew basics of, as I need it for my commercial work, but still life, I would run the opposite way from. This was a genre that I had zero understanding of and didn’t even want to know anything about it. It was also a genre that I took the maximum time in finishing. Now that I have successfully finished it, I am so happy to have received positive feedback from my friends at FiP. Not only do I feel accomplished at the end of it but am actually surprised at me for finding it fascinating enough to experiment more. I am so glad that I experienced these as most importantly a lot of mental blocks were done away with during this course.

While researching about Sophie Calle, it was interesting to read how she lost ‘artistic control’ as she was dependent upon her subject to decide what she could shoot or not. Her subject was the one that was controlling what she could record and not the other way around. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Wildlife, my favorite genre also involves me being at the mercy of the subject, lighting conditions, postures, etc., nothing of which is in my control, not even the angle. You got to make the most of what you get. So much so that whether or not you even find a subject becomes a task. I like that challenge a lot. To make an image with whatever is given to you, without any artistic control, gives me a great level of satisfaction as it requires extremely quick thinking, barely any time to set your settings, etc. It’s like you got to be ready with your camera while anything can appear from anywhere – it is like being in an exam all the time and your performance is at stake every time. For me, it motivates me to set my standards high every time.

People or street photography is still the most challenging for me, more due to my hesitation at approaching people and generally the fact that I am uncomfortable around people, especially strangers – and definitely not comfortable enough to be taking pictures of them. That is one thing I need to address though it becomes difficult when you live in a country like India, where people/street photography becomes challenging as it is not permitted. So, one has to make images on the sly where no one notices or catches you doing so.

 Idea

You’ll need a spark, an idea, subject matter, a place or some ‘lead’ to start you off.

• Do you already have ideas you want to pursue? • Can you clarify them by defining them? • Could your ideas best be developed through visual or intellectual research? • Have any genres, subjects or areas of visual experimentation interested you more than others throughout the course so far? • Are there any skills you want to hone in your final assignment? • Is there a theoretical notion connected to photography (e.g. an ideas-motivated series of pictures) you want to explore in more depth that could result in both written and practical work? • If you’re struggling, set up a brainstorming session with your family and friends to get the creative juices flowing. 

Ever since I started FiP, I have constantly been torn between making still OR moving images. Even in my personal work, I have been toying with the idea of moving up the ladder and attempt at making films in the wild. Now that wildlife photography to me is like the back of my hand, I want to challenge myself at making moving images with the same set of challenges. I have tried it and it is most certainly difficult, especially since I do not have a set up like professional wildlife filmmakers do with a tripod and movie cameras etc. I have to make do with a moving jeep, without the support of a tripod and special permissions that filmmaking requires in the jungles, not to mention the huge costs involved. I possibly cannot imitate that set up as an individual going to the jungles in my personal capacity, so, I have to learn some real movie making skills, within the framework of my present set up and from my DSLR’s.

I definitely want to make a film centered around wildlife but it has to have a very strong storyline. I have plenty of great footage from earlier jungle trips but none of them is talking to me yet. But I keep going to the jungles and need to chance upon that one story that will be my short film for this assignment. And I am hopeful to find it. I know a rough idea of what am looking for. I want to make a short film comparing animal emotions to that of humans, especially in the wake of articles like these:

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-government-vote-animal-sentience-cant-feel-pain-eu-withdrawal-bill-anti-science-tory-mps-a8065161.html

The message that I want to portray with my film is that not only do animals experience physical pain just like any of other God’s creatures but also the fact that they feel emotional pain as well, just like their human counterparts.

The second idea that has come up time and again through the coursework and also from my tutor’s feedback was a narrative sequence – I had done some long shots of a slum dwelling juxtaposed to an affluent middle class gated community earlier during the coursework. My tutor suggested to take that idea forward and get inside the slums to capture the life within. That idea has been toying in mind ever since. Maybe that is something that I want to explore as well. I think this series will be that “idea-motivated” sequence along with a textual description. Probably this will result in a combined photographic-textual body of work. Maybe something along the lines of photojournalism.

Mulling it over

Talk about your ideas with friends, family and your OCA peers. • What is the possible visual outcome? Remember that your aim is to make photographs, so your ideas need to be visual or you need to find a way to visualize them.

Well, these are the thoughts that are coming to my mind and I am excited to start working on these. Any feedback, comments and your thoughts are most welcome. What do you think? Should I attempt both? Am I being over ambitious? Do you think my ideas are good enough for me to start planning?

14 thoughts on “Initial Ideas – Assignment Five |A Personal Project

  1. It takes me an age to do anything Archna, so if I was at this point I would only do one thing, that’s just because I am the type of person that has to focus completely on one thing (maybe because as a man I can’t multitask!).

    I don’t know what your film skills are like so can’t really comment on that but I do know that you are an excellent photographer, have very good post processing skills and produce beautiful images. So if I were you I would go for one project and that would be the one I am most comfortable with that I thought that I could do the best.

    However, that is me and you are you, good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank You, Jonathan. Because I am keen to pursue a degree course in Moving mages and am a little unsure of where I stand that’s why my tutor has suggested to make this film and then he can advise me accordingly. Having reached a certain level in photography, I want to learn filmmaking now as that’s the next challenge that I have set for myself. I am quite good at multi-tasking. 🙂 That was just an initial thought and I may not even attempt the second one like you said but in that case, I must focus on making the movie so I can be directed by my tutor accordingly. Thank you so much for your thoughts. I do agree that by focusing on one single project, I will definitely be able to focus on it and make it better. I appreciate your feedback on this.

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  2. Hi Archna.
    My thoughts are about using the emotions of wild animals to explore your feelings about your daughter leaving home and going to university.

    I think that making a film of animals in this way creates a strong narrative, and means you can work with film (out of your comfort zone) and working with big cats (know intimately) and your emotions (know intimately). Giving you the power to create a narrative film because of knowing two subjects intimately.

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    1. That’s a great idea, Richard. I still need to think about the storyline though – It all depends on what footage I manage to get as it’s not in my control so let’s see. I hope that I can create something strong at the end of the day. Thank you for the wonderful idea. 🙂

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  3. Taking a bit from Richard’s suggestion, maybe use details of the life of the cats – early parentage – mother & cubs, cubs exploring their horizons and then leaving to go off on your own. Whatever you decide, I am sure you will achieve your goal.

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    1. That’s something I would love to do Dave and I have started collecting footage for the same for about three years now- it will perhaps take a few more years to be able to get those opportunities in the wild to make a complete film documenting that. But that’s one film I surely intend to make one day. Thank you so much for a great idea.

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  4. Hi Archna, given your direction and tutor’s advice I would keep it simple. This is a Foundation Course and not the degree! Follow your heart and produce a piece of work to fill the brief and then relax and look forward to the degree! Inevitably emotion will shine through, as it has with all your course work. You have overcome several challenges during the course and that shines through in the sensitivity of your work. I look forward to seeing the result.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sarah, I absolutely agree with your advice. Maybe I should save one idea for the degree course. So thank you for it. In my quest for over-achievement sometimes I miss the point completely. Thanks for making it clear. I will attempt the film so at least I can get an idea of where I stand.

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  5. Hi Archna, love the way you’re pushing yourself into new areas. One thing the has always encouraged is to think about the practicalities in completing an exercise. I love the idea of the tiger and cubs but you’ve hinted that getting footage may be tricky. Is the slum area easier to film? It’s not not nearly so glamorous but it is a jungle I bet. Are there parallels to be drawn? As Sarah says, keep it simple for FiP.

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    1. Hi Chris, I agree. I think I will save one of the themes to be done at a later stage during the degree course. I am still divided as to what to do, and this has happened mainly because of the tutor feedback I received on my ginger assignment. You will see what i mean soon :/

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  6. It’ll be interesting to see what you come up with – but I suppose my one note would be that candid street photography is a culturally sensitive issue and attitudes will be very different in different countries and communities across the world – so I think you’re the only one here who can judge whether it’s a great direction to be following in India. Certainly in my couple of weeks in India, I was amazed by the diversity and divide and the seemingly insurmountable infrastructure difficulties that that enormous country faces, so that the visual opportunities are endless, but priority 1 is “stay safe”

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    1. Thank you Andy. If you have experienced India, well then you know how it functions here. I agree absolutely that safety should be and will be my priority. Street photography is immensely dangerous here, both for the person and the camera 🙂 plus the fact that the minute you take the camera out, you will either have a curious crowd around you or cops :/

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