IAP A3: reflection after tutor feedback

My tutor’s feedback on this project was absolutely spot on in its identification of the reasons why my submission does not achieve my intention of creating a sense of insiderness in relation to my subject. Simply put, I did not engage with Brigitte sufficiently and did not take enough photographs of her to provide a basis for my profile of her, and, in my tutor’s words, the “lack of images to edit from [couldn’t] meet [my] aim of a producing an ‘intimate presence’.” My tutor is also correct in his identification of the underlying reasons behind my insufficient input: “I think the issue has been one of confidence, a reluctance to take the reigns, rather than showing direction you have become too passive.” He adds: “My guess is that Brigitte’s deafness probably also contributed to your reluctance to take the type of images you wished to produce.”

I am grateful for this insightful feedback, and I fully accept and acknowledge its accuracy. I also appreciate the fact that it points precisely to what I need to change if I want to have a better outcome from future projects. I also found the resources my tutor recommended for me helpful. While I have seen Julian Germain’s For Every Minute […] before, revisiting it in this context showed me how I could have made more of the unique character of Brigitte’s home and the objects she populates it with. Martin Usborne’s I’ve Lived in East London […] was new to me and I absolutely loved it and have ordered a second-hand copy of the book so that I can study it in closer detail. I am of course familiar with a lot of Nan Goldin’s work but hadn’t seen her images of friends’ children before, and it was interesting to hear her talk about what the images mean to her. All three resources emphasised my tutor’s point that creating a profile of a person that reveals character takes time and patience, neither of which I invested into this assignment.

I can of course point to the reasons why I didn’t invest the time the project needed. This was a prearranged social visit to Brigitte, the first for more than a year, which I didn’t want to hijack for my own purposes, not least because I didn’t want her to think I’d only suggested it so that I could photograph her (which I hadn’t). We had a lot of catching up to do, and Brigitte’s deafness requires direct face to face visual contact so that she can lip-read. And she had a new, very timid old rescue dog which needed a lot of reassurance not to be terrified by my presence. But yes, these are all excuses, and I could have made the photo shoot a higher priority, for example by asking Brigitte in advance if we could make it so, setting aside part of my visit to the shoot and creating a plan for what I wanted to shoot rather than passively snapping. I know Brigitte would have been fine with that, so I only have myself to blame for not doing it with greater commitment.

Obviously a reshoot is out of the question due to the current ongoing coronavirus lockdown, so I now intend to proceed with my idea of creating a rag book from the images I have.