letter to myself

mumi_299_woThe second key stage of my Master of Arts in photojournalism is under way and it‘s a good time to review the first 9 months or so of the course. It‘s been an incredible experience for me so far and I‘ve noticed a personal and professional progression which I honestly hadn‘t expected – it‘s just what I needed!

A veteran of the BA Hons in Documentary Photography in Newport, I came to this Masters course with a good (albeit traditional) documentary photography foundation. The first assignments on the MA were very similar to those we’d done back in Newport. Whilst this felt familiar, I was keen to avoid the constraints I had felt during my time in Newport and so I was a little skeptical to begin with. Despite this initial insecurity, I really appreciated those initial assignments and soon realised that I was on a completely different course. Homer Sykes’ emphasis on the more traditional aspects of documentary photography highlighted some bad habits that had crept into my photography over the years and his feedback helped to sharpen my composition. Fortunately I was able to attend most of the lectures and found the online delivery of lectures and seminars to be very effective. There’s a kind of a virtual, progressive quality about the course which seems to encourage creativity and free thought. It feels good to be in this kind of environment.

I’m keen to explore the use of photography in conjunction with audio and video, and really welcomed the chance to do so with my extended essay project. Soon after starting to shoot for the Mumi project, I realised that photographs alone would not be enough and so I started to record a series of interviews. I decided to present my extended essay in an unusual and fitting form whilst trying at the same time to bring together all the input I’ve had from the course so far. This resulted in the piece having a democratic and balanced feel to it – something I am keen to continue exploring. John Easterby‘s feedback for the work was very positive and I look forward to our talk on tuesday so that we might review the work in-depth. A weakness in my documentary photography is surely the lack of a viable business model. The rapidly changing media landscape has seen many traditional news and story-telling models fall by the wayside and it seems more difficult than ever to make money with this type of photography.

I really enjoyed reading the many books on my reading list in preparation for the written essay – so much so that I kind of lost track of things and became somewhat confused with a number of complex theories, which in turn made it difficult for me to address the questions relevant to the essay topic. Despite having struggled to put it all down on paper, I managed to scrape through with a respectable mark. Writing is not my strong point, so it seems all the more important for me to go about things with a more structured and logical approach. I‘m looking forward to the upcoming citizen journalism project and hope this will a be a good opportunity to improve on my research and writing skills.

I hope to work on developing the concept of democratic documentary photography and to also explore the idea of the non-linear narrative. I‘d like to continue developing the skills necessary to present my work through web-documentary and installations. I aim to improve my academic research and writing skills and of course to develop a viable business model for my work…

2 Responses to “letter to myself”

  1. Dillon says:

    I like your honesty, but rather disappointed to hear that you felt constrained at Newport. I’d like to think (and hope) that’s what’s was called discipline!

    It gave you a huge advantage over most ‘other’ photographers out there. And as a differentiator, much more so than a ‘viable business model’ or ‘new media’ can possibly offer.

    I suggest you spend less time in lectures, and more time taking pictures ;-)

  2. Philip Benjamin says:

    thanks for your feedback Dillon. I agree that discipline is a good thing but that isn’t what I meant. feeling constrained has a much to do with me as it has to do with any outside influences. I guess I’m just not one for recipes and it’s taken me a while to realise this. now is a different time and the MA seems to be just the ticket ;-)

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