Below is my tutor feedback for Assignment 4 and my responses to it:
I think that you have produced a valid and interesting essay but one that can easily be improved upon. You have some interesting ideas and have applied some sound analysis. Your personal reflection and thoughts are coming through but these can be emphasised further. You have lots of information and relevant research within your own research blog, some of this information particularly the images, and some quotes, should be evidenced within the essay. Some contextual information could be developed further along with a stronger personal voice, especially in the conclusion, let the reader really know your point of view.
You have done lots of groundwork so re-working the essay shouldn’t be too much of an issue, you have the info it just needs highlighting within the essay itself.
All of this is something that can be looked at upon reworking for assessment.
Feedback on assignment
Your essay is clearly inspired by some sound research and personal investigations. The image choice is fine and has allowed you to apply critical analysis. Annie Leibovitz is a famous photographer, know for her portraits and access to sitters that she has. The family portrait is an interesting genre and one that is embedded within the history of art. This demonstrates your awareness and ability to consider images not just as photographs but also in a wider art context. This suggests that you thought long and hard about the image for the essay.
On the whole the essay is grammatical fine, there are no major issues here. The essay reads well and is coherent. One issue though is the length; the assignment asks for an essay of 1,000 words, your essay is 778 words. At this point in your studies it isn’t so much of an issue however, in future do make sure that you follow the brief. I think though after some tweaking you will easily reach 1,000 words. This is one problem, I encountered when writing the essay – was to “bulk it up”, with the reworking suggested, I feel I can easily achieve this.
I think that any issues that I address can easily be resolved and any additions to the essay are already in existence within your research. I think that the essay should provide the reader with more information and context. Upon reading the essay, you talk about various paintings and photographs that back up your arguments. These should be referenced and visualized within or accompanying your essay, basically when reading your essay as a stand-alone piece it would be great for that document to also include your references. As I said, some of these references are included within your research section of your blog, make them clear to the viewer when reading the essay, does that make sense? This is something for when I rework. I need to ensure that if the reader was to not have the relevant research points to reflect to, it will still make sense and provide all of the information on its own.
You talk about Leibovitz use of charm and her previous research into photographs of the Queen, elaborate upon this, tell us what you discovered. You talk about Cecil Beaton, this is a good historical reference, it’s in your research now include with dates etc. in your essay. I really like your critical analysis of the image, how the Queen is photographed with her children yet you cannot feel empathy due to the location and objects. You suggest that the viewer doesn’t understand the situation – how do you know this? Maybe the viewer has different social experiences to yours so may read the image differently! It’s your essay and your subjective viewpoint so don’t be afraid to recognise this within your text. I will further the subjective research in this part.
The inclusion of the Franz Xaver Winterhalter painting is great, it connects your argument to art history and gives it further context. Again, please make sure that you include this image within the essay, you could also elaborate further here with more context, as it’s a solid point. Within your research you suggest that you looked at the V&A and use a quote by Susanna Brown, this is wasted in the research, you should be looking to include this type of information within the essay itself, it’s relevant and demonstrates good research. Use the quote with quotation marks and reference it with Harvard referencing and all the other research that you include. You could also offer more analysis of the images, such as the painting with the Queen and Queen Victoria surrounded by the children, what does this mean? Why is she at the centre? Does this image also relate to photographs of working class grandmothers with their children? As you made us aware that you feel no empathy maybe you could show us an image that you do feel empathy with? I can include more comparisons within the reworking of this essay, and go even further into detail of the historic images that I found when doing this research.
You also talk about Leibovitz previous photographs of the Queen with her crown, again let the viewer see the image that you are referring too. Also you mention the ‘studium’ what do you mean, please inform us. The main paragraph near the end you do start to present your personal analysis further, this is good and leads us to a conclusion. I want to know your stand and why you chose and what you have concluded from your research and analysis of the image. However, I’m not convinced by this line, “There is no narrative that is trying to be constructed here, as it is a posed image” of course there is a narrative, you have based your essay on the reading of the image! Also the actual conclusion feels a little flimsy, you have worked hard, made some valid points, conducted sound research so I’d suggest that your conclusion deserves more and should engage the viewer further with your personal perspective. When writing the original essay, I found the conclusion quite difficult to muster up – I will ensure there is a more successful one upon reworking.
It’s great to see that you are working through the coursework. Make sure that you keep it up to date, as it will continue to help with your studies, photographic knowledge and confidence.
You have clearly considered the assignment and engaged in some sound and relevant research. The research could be elaborated upon and maybe more in-depth so that it can back up your essay further. Make sure that the research is used within your essay and is available to view by the reader. The reader doesn’t see your research notes!
Suggested reading/viewing Context
Have a look at these artists who stage photographs and narratives, you may be aware of some.
Tom Hunter: http://www.tomhunter.org/life-and-death-in-hackney/
John Goto: http://www.johngoto.org.uk
Philip-Lorca diCorcia: http://www.moma.org/collection/artists/7027
Pointers for the next assignment / assessment
• Start to think about assignment 5
• Consider a subject matter of interest
• Really try to push your creativity
• Be prepared to experiment more
• Make sure that you shoot lots
• Give yourself plenty of time to view and edit the final images before submission
• Reference the artists provided within suggested reading/viewing
• Keep up the focus and enthusiasm
• Consider and think about how you will submit for formal assessment