Monday, 22 November 2010

Assignment 4 : a critical review (planning)

OK, before anyone starts scrolling down their screen looking for Assignment 3. It hasn't been done, but it will be. It just suits my situation at the moment to do something additional to image making. Assignment 3 will come along soon.

Assignment 4 is a critical review of about 2500 words about the life and work of a photographer. The OCA list five, although it is possible to do A N Other, but I will conform and stay within the list. In addition I am mindful of Assignment 5, where I am required to produce 12 photographs "in the style" of one of these photographers.

The List
  1. Ansel Adams
  2. Robert Adams
  3. Fay Godwin
  4. Edward Weston
  5. Galen Rowell
The critical review will deal with their life history, work, influences and successes and why they were chosen for the essay. Although as I said, another photographer could be chosen (subject to tutor comments) I thought it interesting to look at the OCA list in a little more detail before making my choice. My first comment is that I had only heard of three of them, which in itself is appalling and demonstrates why doing this course will at least introduce me to more photographers than I had previously been aware of.

A quick run through of the candidates then.

Ansel Adams.
I have a few of his books and they were all well read years ago when I did my work in a wet darkroom. His books "The Negative" and "The Print" are masterclasses in developing and printing using large format negatives. Inventor of The Zone System and founder member of the f64 group, he is perhaps the best known of all those on the list. A god like figure in the world of monochrome, but I wonder how I will fare when it comes to his style.

Robert Adams.
I had never heard of him. Reading about him and looking at his work has not brought about a "wow" moment. The style of his work is however interesting although I have never found myself interested in this type of work I feel uncomfortable that later I will have to work in his style.

Fay Godwin
Well, Fay Godwin, I think you either love her or hate her. I do both. I feel my opinions of her are so mixed that I would need an entire essay on its own to explain them. Far be it from me, but aren't many of them just ordinary photographs in very poor light. Maybe some other time I will expand on this.

Edward Weston
I was aware of some nudes and shells, but only from magazines and the Internet. Further research has however interested me. Not only his photography but his life. A complex man who lived in a wooden hut, had many lovers and photographed a toilet. During a holiday this year I read a biography by Ben Maddow and began to realise that Weston was establishing himself as a possible candidate for my essay.

Galen Rowell
Again, I had never come across this photographer prior to this list. His work using 35mm transparency and the hard won landscapes in remote parts of the world hardly seems plausible as a style for myself to try and emulate.

My decision: Edward Weston. I visited an exhibition of his work in London in September, now re reading his biography (this time making notes) and have just acquired "The Last Years in Carmel".

Critical review writing is new to me so I will do some reading on the style and techniques needed prior to starting.The OCA has a 3 page document on this and that seems like a good place to start and base my technique as I assume the tutors use it as a checklist for content.

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