Assignment 1: Two sides of the same story

The assignment requires you to produce two sets of photographs telling different versions of the same story with 5-7 images in each set. The images have to be “candid and taken from real life”.

The two sets of images are shown below , a 300 word introduction to what I was trying to do can be found here: Assignment 1

My reflections on the Assignment can be found after the photographs.


Set 1: One of these people has a disability


Set 2: Both of these people have a disability


Comments on this assignment

I think that this was the most difficult task I have attempted in all the OCA courses that I have completed so far. Initially I found it difficult to understand the requirements of the assignment – I would come up with several ideas of how to tell the same story from two different angles – but then find that they didn’t meet the other requirements of the assignment i.e. had to be from ‘real life’. Originally I thought about doing a couple of versions of a ‘Brillo box’ – the first being the mass-produced cleaning product, the second being Andy Warhol’s production of his artwork. But I couldn’t work out a way of doing this to meet the other requirements of ‘candid shots from real life’.

In the end I decided to look at disability – both physical and mental and perhaps explore the hidden side of mental ability. In the video by Paul Seawright referred to in the course guide, he talks about photos that ‘give their meaning up slowly’ and this is what I aimed for with the second series of photos. It would have been easy to pose my mother with a leaflet on dementia or had a relevant book in the background – in fact before enrolling on this course that’s probably what I would have done in this type of exercise. Because of what I have read and tried so far in this first part of the course I decided not to go for an easy option and to make the decoding of the series a little more difficult.

I’m fairly satisfied with the result, but it is by no means my best work, certainly not technically. I am pleased with the way that Series 1 demonstrates the mobility problems of one person, but I found the representation of the effects of dementia a much greater challenge.

I’m pleased with the technical quality of some of the photos, but they aren’t all quite up to the same standard as I found the lighting conditions very challenging in a couple of locations. But then taking photos ‘candid and from real life’ presents these challenges and I have to learn to deal with them.

Were I to repeat the exercise perhaps I would choose the locations with a bit more care which would give more control over the lighting conditions. I might try to think of other ways of depicting mental health (although I put a lot of thought into this one!).

I still like the idea of the two takes on the Brillo Box theme, pity I couldn’t get a way of including candid and ‘shots from real life’ into it. I might just have a go at it myself, outside of the course requirements, just for the fun of it.

Going through this exercise has taught me a lot about how to convey messages subtly and how good images reveal their meanings slowly. My challenge from now on is to produce work that meets these criteria.