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10 STEPS TO SUCCESS 1. Define to yourself what you are drawn to visually. 2. Decide what you want to take photographs of. Then what you want to take photographs about. 3. See & understand light. 4. Study the photographers before you and learn from the old masters. 5. Make rather than take. CREATE imagery. 6. Connect with the place or person you are photographing. Find an emotional as well as visual connection. 7. Set goals and pursue them with tenacity. If these goals do not intimidate you, make new ones that do. 8. Shoot, Shoot, Shoot! Taking pictures is like lifting weights or learning to play an instrument: you won’t get better, stronger or see progress unless you go to the gym or practise every day. Exercise your creative muscles. 9. Convey feeling and mood rather than just thinking about technique. 10. Be ambitious.


WELCOME TO A LEVEL PHOTOGRAPHY This booklet is designed to help you on your course, step by step, through your first year here at Exeter College, and beyond. It is full of resources, help sheets and links to various other sources of guidance and information that you will need during your time here. It takes you through our suggested way of working in a sketchbook and introduces you to the Creative Process, a helpful guide to structuring your projects and creating a good balance of research, planning, visual experimentation personal commentary and reflection. We really hope you enjoy your time here. Now lets get to work!......

At the beginning of each project... 1. You will be given the brief then discuss it with the class & your lecturer to develop ideas. 2. Think about the theme and what you want to do / are interested in. 3. Develop your ideas - a mind map is a good start. 4. Do some initial research into artists who link to the theme / your ideas. 5. Write your Statement of Intent (guidance below). Now it’s time to start the CREATIVE PROCESS........

How to write a PROJECT PROPOSAL • First copy out the question or project brief that you are responding to (in short if it is very long). • Write out your initial thoughts and ideas in response to this theme or title. • List photographers or artists that you might connect to; explain their work and why you like it briefly (your lecturer can give you names). • List any experiments that you might do to maximize your marks. i.e. Photoshop / darkroom manipulation, collage, photomontage, long exposures, night time photography, studio work etc... • What do you think your final outcome will look like? i.e. book, projection, digital prints. Explain your initial ideas for the final presentation. (You don’t have to stick to this). 4


The ‘Creative ‘Process’ is not the only way of working, there are many different ways to generate and develop your ideas, emabark on ambitious projects and produce exciting outcomes. Being creative is not about ticking boxes and follwoing rules. However some structure is needed to keep momentum and make sure that you are meeting the standards and marking criteria expected of you on this course of study. Each week you should be completing a cycle of the Creative Process.











You should begin each project by researching a variety of photographers whoes work is linked to your ideas & style. As the weeks go by you don’t necessarily need to do a full page of artist research every IN   to see ‘inspiration pages’, where you are week, but we will expect engaging with other sources, this can be more photographers but can   also include films, literature, music & other art forms.

We need to see evidence that you are thinking things through, developing your ideas and planning your shoots. This will improve the quality fo the work you do. Skecthes, mind maps and written plans are essential to you developing as a photographer.





GO AND PHOTOGRAPH! This is obviously the most important bit.You need to do AT THE VERY LEAST ONE SHOOT PER WEEK. MINIMUM!! Then you should edit your images in the darkroom and/or on the computers.

Then you need to look carefully at what you have done and identify the areas that worked well along with those that need improvement, this is called REFLECTING. After that it is time to start the process again and aim to REFINE what you have done.





Choose photographers whose work you respond to in some way.

Inpiration can come from anywhere, anytime. Look out for it...

• Include more than 3 images. • Deconstruct and analyse these (write/draw on the photos if you like) • Brief biography of relevant information Photographer’s Project Talk about a particular project(s) a photographer has worked on.


• Look at the project as a whole. • What is it about? Think/talk about possible narratives and/or the political / social / cultural / historical significance of the work. • How does that relate to/what are the similarities to you and your project/ideas. • How does their work inspire you? Individual Images Talk about the photograph. Try to find a quote from the photographer or someone writing about the photograph. Use primary source where possible (Not just Google!). • • • •

Talk about your reading/understanding/appreciation of the images What questions does it pose? What interest you about it? What inspiration do you take from it?

Don’t just look at photographers work.You need to read aboout it too.

Remember that inpiration can come from a variety of sources - Films, literature, music videos, other art disciplines such as painting and sculpture, graphics, etc...

2 - YOUR IDEAS – (GENERATE) • Generate ideas based on your research. • It’s important that you don’t just mimic the work of others – you can be influenced but make sure you do it in your own way. • Sometimes combining the style of two contextual references can produce a great original response. • Your ideas must be clearly communicated in your sketchbook, you can use * mind maps * written plans You need to * sketches / diagrams show drawings GENERATE * mood boards and skecthes. * lighting plans / drawings * shoot plans etc… • Remember to always make links back to your research. * How does their work link to my ideas? * How can I use this photographer’s work to help my own? * What techniques has the photographer used that I am going to try? 6



Once you’ve researched and generated your ideas you can begin shooting. • PLAN YOUR SHOOT FIRST o What lighting do you need? Day/Night? Natural/Artificial? o Equipment needed? - Props /Models / Crew / Assistance o Time – when are you going to do it? o Location? - How are you going to get there?


• Experiment with compositional and camera techniques paying particular attention to the lighting. • A shoot should be at least 35-40 images if shooting digital or a whole roll of film. • Always make a contact sheet of the whole shoot. • Stick the contact sheet in your sketchbook and annotate. • Choose key images and print them no smaller than A6 (1/4 the size of A4) • Edit these images in Photoshop or in the darkroom.

4 – LOOK AT WHAT YOU’VE DONE – (EVALUATE) • The most crucial part of the process • Without honest and thoughtful reflection it will be difficult to move forwards • Evaluations don’t have to be really long but should clearly communicate your opinions on the strengths/development areas of your work so far. • Use this time to consider your next step and to browse/seek out new contextual references to inspire you Shoot Evaluation • • • • • • •

Image Evaluation • • • • •


What did you do? Where did you go? What was the concept for the shoot? Who or what was the inspiration for the shoot? Aim - What did you set out to achieve? What worked well? Why did it work well? What did not work well? Why? What would you do differently next time? Did you make any mistakes that can be avoided / corrected? You don’t need to answer all these questions, they are just some things you can think about & ask yourself to help you identify what happend (Reflect) and how you can improve (Refine).

What lighting did you use? Depth of field/Shutter speed. Composition – describe what rules / guidelines your image follows. Influences – what were they? Do they link with your research? Messages and meanings – does it say what you want it to say? How could this be developed / improved? • Skills and techniques used – could they be developed / improved? • What could you do next time to better communicate you idea?


RESEARCH - Find Inspiration


• Don’t fall into the trap of thinking a well presented page of research is enough. When marking your work we will look for a depth of understanding via your communication of ideas and concepts. Don’t just look, you need to READ too! • It is not enough to simply include biographical information and then comment on the composition of a couple of photos. • You need to genuinely connect with the work and try to understand the narrative/ emotive context.

WHAT TO INCLUDE • Look at whole projects • In depth personal response • Understanding of context • Further research into theme/idea • Documentaries/films/music • Books/magazines/articles • Gallery visits • Artist talks/lectures • Interviews 8

See pages 18-23 for extra help

TOP TIP - Avoid things like;‘I like this picture because the composition is nice and the lighting is interesting’!! That tells us nothing about your engagement with or understanding of it! Talk about your understanding & appreciation of the photograph or project.

F IL M S / D O C U M E N TA R • Include a considered emotional response



• Ensure that you have your facts right – it’s no use trying to understand an image when you haven’t looked at the background/title/meaning that the artist intended. • Look at whole projects. Don’t just assume an image is a stand-alone piece. Look to see if it is from a project or set and research what the entire project is about • Include dates and titles where necessary. • Discuss how this could impact on your own work and why you have chosen to research it • Do include technical observations – but use the technical features of the image to identify the meaning

“You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” Ansel Adams



IDEAS / THEMES /ISSUES • Generate ideas based on your research

• It’s important that you don’t just mimic the work of others – you can be influenced but make sure you do it in your own way • Sometimes combining the style of two contextual references can produce a great original response • Your ideas must be clearly communicated; mind maps, written plans, sketches, diagrams, mood boards, titles.


P O SS IB L E P H OT O SK E T C H E S WHAT TO INCLUDE • Mind maps • Written ideas • Shoot plans • Sketches / diagrams • Story boards • Mood boards • Title ideas 10

See page 24 for extra help

“Find something you feel strongly about and photograph it” Martin Parr


“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” Don McCullin




TOP TIP - Really take time to think about your ideas and plans. Turn off your phone, shut down your laptop, switch off the TV, get a pen and a piece of paper and think! You need space, time, focus, and concentration to develop ideas thoroughly, 11

CREATE PHOTOGRAPHING • Once you’ve researched and planned you can begin shooting. • Experiment with compositional and camera techniques paying particular attention to the lighting. • One shoot shouldn’t really be below 35-40 images if shooting digital or a whole roll of film (usually 36 frames) and always make a contact sheet of the whole shoot. • Choose key images and print them no smaller than A6 Edit on Photoshop/in the darkroom. This part clearly demonstrates thought processes and editing choices as well as technical skill.



TOP TIP - Annotate your contact sheets thoroughly. Get a red (or other coloured) pen and go to work on them! Show that you are really looking at and engaging with your photographic shoots. 12

See page 25 for extra help



“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Ansel Adams



WHAT TO INCLUDE • Contact sheets • Best prints - annotated • Photoshop work • Darkroom experimentation • Further digital or analogue experimentation


“It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organising them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.” Elliott Erwitt 13



• One of the most crucial part of the process. • Without honest and thoughtful reflection it will be difficult to move forwards. • Evaluations don’t have to be really long but should clearly communicate your opinions on the strengths/development areas of your work so far. • Use this time to consider your next step and to browse/seek out new contextual references to inspire you.



In depth critical evaluation Future plans Links backs to research Ideas for future research

See page 26-27 for extra help

BEST I M AG E If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff. Jim Richardson



“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” Paul Caponigro

TOP TIP - Remember to talk how the work has influenced you • What have you taken from the work? • How will it influence your shoot/ideas? • What techniques and methods will you use? • What atmospheres, mood and emotions do you hope to create?





“To me, photography is like a quest, or a hunt. I love painting, I love music, but photography is what has allowed me to get outside of myself.” - Edouard Boubat “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” - Maya Angelou “Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with how you see them.” - Elliott Erwitt “If you want to be a better photographer, stand infront of more interesting stuff.” - Jim Richardson “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” - Dorothea Lange “It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.” - David Bailey “Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire light. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” - George Eastman “I always thought that good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good.” - Garry Winogrand “The photograph should be more interesting or more beautiful that what was photographed.” - Garry Winogrand “I tend to think of the act of photography, generally speaking, as an adventure. My favoruite thing is to go where I’ve never been.” - Diane Arbus “You don’t make a photograph with just a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” - Ansel Adams “Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.” - Walker Evans “I mean, what do you do on a Saturday night? Instead of watching whatever is on the tube, you grab your camera and you go out and take pictures.” - Stanley Greene 17


Analysing Images & Projects When we look at a photograph we often give it a quick glance, noticing only that it is an image of a man, a car, a landscape or whatever it happens to be. Looking in this quick and cursory manner is unlikely to give us much pleasure or help develop our analytical skills and appreciation of art. To appreciate a photographic artwork we need to look carefully and think about the image. At first this might sound like hard work, but imagine eating a really lovely piece of cake; you could just put it all in your mouth and swallow, or you could eat it more slowly, savoring the flavours, texture and aroma. Which of these ways of eating is likely to give you more pleasure? In the same way, looking carefully at an image whilst savoring the context, composition, use of light, its meaning and so on can also be a very pleasurable experience.

Remember, don’t just look at photographers work.You need to read aboout it too.

Some questions to ask yourself when analysing an image When you look at an image, a good starting point is to ask yourself some questions. You don’t need to answer all these, they are just some questions you can think about to get started.

• • • • • • •

Who or what is the picture/project of? (Or what is the subject of the image/project?) What is happening in the picture/project? Where was the photograph/project made – what is the setting? When was the photograph/project made? INSPIRATION Does the photograph/project capture a particular moment in time? Is there a focal point to the photograph/project? What do you notice about the photograph/project’s composition & lighting (the use and placement of the visual elements line, colour, tone, shape, light etc)? • Does the picture/project have a deeper meaning? What is it telling/asking us? 18

Context Looking, Seeing, Understanding & Enjoying!


Sometimes to understand an image fully we need more information than the image alone can give us; we often need to know about the image’s context. Context simply means the ‘surrounding circumstances’, in this case the purpose of the image – why, and for what purpose it was made. We have seen that when we study an artwork such as a photographic image, it is important to look carefully and slowly, thinking about everything in the image, making written or mental notes. Sometimes we are then able to discern the image’s message or meaning. At other times to discover any deeper meaning, we may need more information (such as the context). When we do not know the context of a particular artwork, it may seem incomprehensible. In such a case, it is wrong to criticise the artwork immediately as being no good or ‘rubbish’. We need to find out more about the artwork - to discover the context, who made it, why, when, what else was happening at the time, was the image made for a specific purpose and so on to discover what (if anything) it or the artist might be trying to tell us. It is this search, this quest to understand that makes much contemporary art and photography so exciting and enjoyable. So when you next look at a photograph, give it your undivided attention, think deeply about it and most importantly, enjoy it! Context Remember, context just means ‘the surrounding circumstances’. This could include for example: • • • •

When the image/project was made? What was happening in the world when the image/project was made? Who made it? Who is in it? Why did they make it - was the image/project made for a specific reason or commission? • How does the image/project ‘fit in’ with other work by the same artist?

TOP TIP - Remember to look at whole projects. Look at the entire series of a photographer’s work and consider the context, significance and importance of seeing all the images together. Do they make sense on their own? How might you utilise this in your own work?



Biography Be aware that alone this scores very little on the grade front, 
as it shows little of your understanding about the photographer or their work. A brief sentence or two will do. Relevant information only. What drew you to this photographer and their work? INSPIRATION Image analysis • Describe the image/project. (Use ‘Form’ questions and vocab list). • Technically how was the image/project produced? (Use ’Process’ questions & vocab list). • What is the work saying, what is it about? (Use ‘Content’ questions and vocab list). • What atmospheres, mood, emotions have been created within the images? (Use ‘Mood’ questions and vocab list). TOP TIP - Remember not all Influence these questions will be relevant. • What have you taken from the work? Just use the ones that are. • How will it influence your shoot/ideas? • What techniques and methods will you use? • What atmospheres, mood and emotions do you hope to create?

Analysing Form • Process • Content • Mood These are the types of things you need to consider when you are analysing images and projects by other photographers






Texture Shape Colour Tone Lines Busy Quiet Empty Angles Light Dark Soft Smooth Contrast Symmetry Perspective Background Foreground Abstract

Focus Composition Framing Depth of field Digital Analogue Shutter speed ISO/ASA Crop Balance Setting Location Daylight Tungsten Repetition Grain Vignetting Manipulated Photoshop

Historical Political Social Religious Geographical Significance Message Meaning Intention Explanation Relevance Insinuation Intention Objective Subject Theme Provocative Controversial Representational

Emotional Dramatic Joy Angry Emotive Disturbing Depressing Love Hate Abuse Expressive Melancholic Ecstatic Beautiful Dreamy Ethereal Elation Bleak Somber

A Guide to Evaluating a Photograph: Form • Process • Content • Mood Form - Looking at the formal elements • Colour - Is the photograph colour or black and white? How does this affect the mood? • Tone - Is the photograph high or low contrast? How and why? • Line - What sorts of lines are there in the photograph? How have they been positioned in relation to the rest of the composition? What effect does this have? • Shape - What sorts of shapes are there in the image? Doe they remind you of anything? Do you think the photographer meant this? • Texture - What kinds of patterns and/or textures are there in the photograph? Do they match or contrast the subject matter? • Pattern - Has anything been repeated in the image? What do you think this could mean? • Balance - Is the image symmetrical or off balance? Does this match or contrast the subject matter? Is the image busy or quiet? Does this match or contrast the subject matter? What is in the foreground and the background? Is this important? Process - How the photograph has been taken/developed/manipulated/printed • Where was the photographer stood? What is his point of view/perspective? • How was it lit? How may light sources can you make out? What is the evidence for this? • What materials and tools have been used? • Has the photograph been manipulated or distorted in any way? How and why? • How is the image focused? What is the main point of focus? • Have Shutter Speed and/or Depth of Field been used creatively in the image? Content - Looking at the subject of the photograph • What is it? What is it about? What is happening? • Where and when was it taken? • What do you think that the relationship between the photographer and subject(s) is? • What does the photograph represent? • What has the photographer called the photograph? • Does the title change the way we see the photograph? • Is it a realistic depiction? • Have any parts been exaggerated or distorted? If so, why? INSPIRATION • What is the theme of the photograph? • What message does the photograph communicate? • Is there a narrative in the image? If so, what is it? Mood - Looking at the communication of moods and feeling • How does the photograph make you feel? What is the emotional impact on the audience? • Why do you think you feel like this? • Does the colour, texture, form or theme of the photograph affect your mood? How and why? • Do you relate personally to the content/theme/message/meaning of the image? • What is it about the image that interests you? • What inspiration do you take from this picture? 21

Possible Research Sources - Where to look for inpiration Primary Sources Galleries/Exhibitions INSPIRATION Locally there’s The Spacex The Phoenix The Museum If you are away for the weekend anywhere, Bristol, London etc.. find out what’s on.

Art’s Talks Program of talks at Plymouth University and Exeter College’s Visiting Speakers in The Black Box at The Phoenix. And why not email or talk to the photographer your interested in directly? Worth a try! Secondary Sources First stop... The LRC. Lots of books, DVDs & journals.

The Internet Ok, so you can Google stuff, but make the effort to look at a photographers personal website and other articles/interviews. And don’t just use Google Images! Also check out: or 22

The International Centre of Photography (New York) has a great online archive of lectures and interviews with photographers. • The Research Centre - • The Video/Audio Lecture Series Archive - http:// Vimeo/YouTube/Documentaries/Movies/TV Search for your chosen photographer. It’s full of documentaries, interviews, clips etc.. Make notes and take screen grabs/stills then put in your sketch book.

TED Talks - TED is a nonprofit organisation devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics - from science to business to art to global issues - in more than 100 languages. Exeter College Portal & Moodle There is a ‘Research Zone’ with loads of eBooks, journals, films etc... Research-Zone.aspx And many of the resources that you will be introduced to in class - PowerPoints / handouts / assignments etc.. - will be on Moodle. Check with your lecturer. INSPIRATION

And don’t forget that you can draw on any other source or subject as long as it is linked to your project theme in some way. What else are you studying? Psychology? Philosophy? Geography? Geology? Creative Writing? English Literature/Language? Music? Media? Fine Art? Textiles? Graphics? Dance? Any of the Sciences or Languages? Remember that you’re not here just to take pretty pictures, your work needs to be about something. What that is however, is up to you. Finally, it’s good to discuss and share with your class mates who you’re looking at, who inspires you and where you’re finding good material, pay attention to what others are up to and develop a supportive and creative network here in the college. 23

SHOOT PLAN What do you intend to do? 1. ENVIRONMENT - In what environment will you be photographing? Will it be a particular location? How will you get there? 2. SUBJECT / CONTENT - What do you intend or anticipate photographing? You may not know the exact details of this but try to describe your hopes for the subject matter you anticipate photographing. 3. TECHNIQUE - Will you be photographing in B&W or colour, digital or film? State how you will capture your images. 4. PROPS / EQUIPMENT - Do you require any props? What camera and equipment will you be using? Is your battery charged?! 5. MODELS / CREW - Will you be using models? If so who and why? Do you need any assistance? 6. LIGHTING - What time of day will you be photographing, what lighting conditions will there be? E.g. sunrise or sunset. Will you be using natural or artificial light? 7. COMPOSITION / EXPERIMENTATION - Will you be exploring any unusual angles, different viewpoints, long shutter speeds or experimenting with depth of field? Try to explain the practical ways you will be photographing, using correct terminology. 8. RESEARCH - You will also need to draw any links and connections to your researched photographers, stating how they have inspired or influenced your own intentions. 9. PROBLEMS - Can you see any problems that might arise? If so, how can I solve them? Do I need a back up plan?


CREATE Contact sheet in Adobe Bridge watch?v=ZjownFeEUYw

Adobe Photoshop tutorials Youtube is a great resource for help and advice, full of all sorts of technical and creative tutorials in Adobe Photoshop, Bridge, Illustrator, In Design etc... Also you will find lots of darkroom and other practical guides to working in any photographic medium. Simply search for what it is you want to try and there will be some helpful person out there who has taken the time create a video that will take you step by step through what it is you want to know,

Darkroom help / advice / tutorials

• Multiple exposures (digital & analogue) • Alternative analogue processes • Time-lapse • All sorts of effects / filters / manipulation in Photoshop (though don’t over do it. Less is often more) • Long exposures • Macro photography • Air brushing • Combining images • Night photography watch?v=F8T94sdiNjc

Here are a couple of Youtube tutorials that will help you with understanding the basics of exposure if you’re not 100% sure how to use all the manual settings on your DSLR - shutter speed / aperture / iso. watch?v=axKEUnxqWZY 25

Annotating & Evaluating Images - A Brief Guide Annotate - “a critical or explanatory note or body of notes added to a text”. Evaluate - “to determine the significance or quality of”. This definition just means that annotation is some notes which accompany a piece of text or an image. The word ‘critical’ above does not necessarily mean that your annotation criticises or finds faults in the image - it simply means ‘important’, as in “it’s critical that you hand in your homework on time!” Annotation is therefore just some notes beside an image or a collection of images.

EVALUATE But what exactly do we write? Annotation involves skilful judgement about the image, deciding what are the most important (or critical) aspects of the image. It then includes the use of important or ‘critical’ terms, such as composition, lighting, exposure, highlights, tripod, tone etc. How to Start Writing an annotation When analysing an image and thinking about what to write, it is often helpful to consider these categories: • • • • • • •

Medium Subject/Content Style Technique Composition Lighting Feelings

An example of good analysis: This picture is a portrait of a man in an almost deserted street lined by trees that I captured in Paris. It had been raining but had stopped when I took the picture hence he is holding his umbrella. The trees create strong implied lines which draw the viewers eye to the mans face. He looks quite old but is smartly dressed in a dark cape and bowler hat. Perhaps he is an important politician or civil servant – he certainly looks very self-important as he gazes directly into the camera. Before going to Paris I researched the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and his photographs of Paris in the 1930’s, his ability to capture ‘The Decisive Moment’ was what I set out to emulate and achieve in my shoots on this trip. The image has a melancholic feel because he looks so alone and this feeling is enhanced by the high contrast, giving the image a somewhat stark feel, with the man and trees standing out against the pale sky and pavement. I did some post processing in Photoshop initially turning the photograph to black & white and then adjusting the levels to change the contrast and tone – to give the image a vintage feel, and to attempt to make the viewer think it is a photo from the 1930’s 0r 40’s.


Consider these when writing about your images. Medium Is the means by which information or meaning is conveyed. For example: oil painting, sculpture in stone, black and white photography, newspaper, radio, TV, pencil drawing on paper, colour photography, digital colour photography, etc. [Note: Media studies is the study of these different ‘mediums’ or media]. Subject/Content What the image is OF? For example: a person, an object, an incident etc.. What the image is ABOUT? For example: environmental concerns, racial equality etc... Style This can seem a somewhat vague category. Think about what style means in fashion and music to give you a clue about its meaning. In photography the Style tells us something about the way that the photographer produces their particular images and most importantly, their particular ‘LOOK’. To help you start thinking about the style, consider the following: Genre – is the image a portrait, landscape, commercial, fashion, abstract etc. Technique What techniques and processes have been used to produce the image(s)? For example, was a tripod used, digitally manipulated, what sort of a camera, saturated or muted colour tones, what sort of shutter speed and aperture? etc... Composition & Lighting You might want to comment on the composition & use of light if these are important aspects of the image. For example, does the image use lines to direct the eye of the viewer, are there any strong diagonals, how is light used - is it soft or hard light? Is the image ‘flat looking’ or very three dimensional, how is the space used? Are any rules of composition being followed or broken? etc... Mood Do you like the image - why or why not? How does it make you feel (happy, sad, excited, bored etc?). Does the image tell a story (narrative)? Was the photographer trying to get a message or particular feeling or mood across to the viewer? OK, OK!!!… I thought annotation was supposed to be a few notes to accompany an image or a few images, this is turning into an essay! Here is where the real skill comes in: when you annotate an image you do NOT have to write about everything – many of the suggestions above will not be relevant. The trick is to first study the picture or pictures and then make a few notes on what you think are the most important aspects (the critical aspects).



VOCAB Using appropriate language and vocabulary will take you beyond the ‘it looks nice’ type of judgements about your work. Below is some extra vocab you could use. Using an appropriate selection of the words on this handout should help you to give some depth & rigour to your analysis and evaluation of your own, and others’ work. Be aware that, although these terms have been organised under headings, many of them can be used in connection with a variety of qualities or aspects of visual language. There are many more words which would be suitable which are not listed here. Composition balanced/imbalanced symmetrical/asymmetrical vertical/horizontal diagonal repetitive random dynamic static rhythmic focal point linear dramatic abstract/figurative Shape/Form organic/inorganic curvilinear rectilinear geometrical complex/simple exaggerated curved/straight stylised Colour/Tone bright/dull pure/impure clashing/blending intense primary secondary tertiary coloured greys tint/shade monochromatic polychromatic analogous complimentary 28

cool/warm transparent/opaque translucent shimmering glowing bold/subtle atmospheric Line thick/thin jagged/flowing broken zig-zagging/undulating twisting/contorted unidirectional/multidirectional Surface/Texture rough/smooth soft/hard glossy/matte impasto flat reflective tactile stippled mottled General emphasis attract attention distract attention sensitive contrast/harmony reinforces sophisticated understated restrained inventive



FINAL EVALUATION At the end of your project you may want to evaluate the project as a whole to help you identify what you might do differently next time. Research • • • • • •

Have you used a wide variety of sources? If so what? Is you research relevant? Is it in enough depth and detail? Why did you choose these artists? How effective was your researching? Have you used it to inform your ideas?


Development of ideas • • • •

Have you experimented widely throughout? Is this evident in your shoots? Has the project developed logically? Are your ideas informed by you research? How? Have you shown where your ideas have come from?

Materials/Techniques/Processes • • • • •

Which materials, techniques, processes did you use? How have you used or applied them? Has this been successful? What skills have you used? What skills have you developed? What skills do you need to learn or improve on?

Outcomes • Have you presented your work appropriately? • How do you feel about the quality of your final outcomes? Could they be improved? • Does your work say what you want it to say? Could the communication be improved? • Did you manage your time well? Could this have been improved? • Did you plan your work in enough detail? – Could you have done this better? • What do you intend to work on and improve in the next project?


EXPOSURE There are 3 things that affect your exposure: Aperture • Shutter Speed • Film Speed / ISO Aperture - This sets the size of the hole through which light enters the camera. f22 - f16 - f11 - f8 - f5.6 - f4 - f3.5 - f2.8 - f2 Shutter Speed - This is the amount of time that light is allowed to hit the film or sensor. Each ‘stop’ on the aperture or shutter speed exactly doubles or halves the amount of light reaching the film. ISO - ISO is available in a wide range of sensitivities (the film speed tells us how sensitive the film is to light). ISO 3200 – 1600 – 800 – 400 – 200 – 125/100 – 50 Note how the ISO doubles, like the shutter speed and aperture each ISO number is twice or half as sensitive as the next.

Exposure -

A correct light reading at: ISO 400 + f8 + 125 Will also be right at: ISO 100 + f4 + 125 Or ISO 3200 + f22 + 125 This gives you a range of options for your shoot. 30


Aperture, shutter speed & ISO all work together to determine the correct exposure.

ISO / FILM SPEED • • • • •

The ISO rating of a film is a measure of the film’s sensitivity to light. On a digital camera it is the sensors sensitivity to light. Typical ISO ratings include: ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200. Films with a High ISO are called fast films. Films with low ISO are called Slow films. On a digital camera high ISOs make the images look ‘noisy’ or dirty.

ISO Explained -

A FAST film (800-1600) is very sensitive and reacts quickly, making it good for capturing motion or working in gloomy conditions… A SLOW film (50 -100 ISO) is much less SENSITIVE – it reacts LESS quickly to light so would be good for STUDIO work and sunny/bright weather. REMEMBER A SLOW ISO (100-200) is not very sensitive and reacts slowly to light. = use when more light


Because High ISO films are more sensitive to light, they are ideal when: 1. There is not much light 2. A fast shutter speed is required 3. A small aperture and fast shutter speed are required

A FAST ISO (800-1600) is very sensitive and reacts quickly to light. = use when less light 31

SHUTTER SPEED The shutter speed determines how long the shutter is open, exposing the photographic film or sensor in a digital camera. Shutter speeds range from a thousandths of a second to minutes , hours or even days (B). B












The shutter speed not only affects the amount of light entering the camera, it also determines how movement is captured. REMEMBER If you are hand holding your camera, you will need to use a shutter speed of 60 or faster to avoid camera shake. REMEMBER For shutter speeds of less than 60 you can use a tripod to avoid camera shake.

• 1000 - This will capture even the fastest car with no blur. • 125 - Is a good general setting, this will capture most every day scenes with no blur. • 60 - This is as slow as you can go hand held, people will be sharp, but cars and sports activities will be blurred. • 30 - For speed of 30 and below you will need to use a tripod and cable release. Almost anything moving will be blurred and the whole image is likely to suffer from camera shake. For each ‘stop’ you adjust the Shutter Speed you will need to compensated with the aperture .

Shutter Speed Explained - 32

APERTURE & DEPTH OF FIELD The aperture (f stop) not only affects the amount of light entering the camera, it also determines how much of the subject is in focus (depth of field). • The smaller the aperture (F22) the larger the depth of field, you will have to compensate with a slower shutter speed. • The larger the aperture (F2.8) the smaller the depth of field, you will have to compensate with a faster shutter speed.

A wide aperture e.g F2.8 would give a shallow depth of field e.g the subject in the foreground may be in the focus, but the background will be out of focus.

A small aperture e.g F22 would give a large depth of field, where the foreground and background is in focus.

The human eye works in much the same way as a camera lens. Point a light at your eye whilst looking in the mirror and see what happens!

REMEMBER Lower F number = more light = less in focus High f number = = less light = more in focus

Aperture Explained - 33

FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE BUT IMPORTANT RULES DON’T LEAVE ANY BLANK PAGES OR GAPS IN YOUR BOOK!! Keep up to date with your work. The more you leave behind to do later, the more it will hold you back from progressing. MAKE SURE YOUR BOOK FLOWS. Research - Ideas - Shoot Plan – Shoot - Contact Sheet – Annotate – Analyse - Best Prints – Evaluate - and repeat…….. (make sure you fit lots of experimentation in there too Photoshop etc..). Treat it like a story, you have to EXPLAIN everything you do and how it leads to the next thing. SHOW EVIDENCE OF ALL THE WORK YOU DO. If you are creating a large set for example, take a picture of it, or of you taking pictures, think ‘behind the scenes’. If you’re using Photoshop take screen grabs as you go. If you are watching a film or documentary or going to a gallery or museum show the evidence of this. PUSH YOURSELF. TEST YOURSELF. TAKE RISKS. DON’T BE LAZY. Think of your favourite movie, song, album, book, poem, painting. How much time, effort, thought, feeling, blood, sweat, tears, went in to creating that? Good things do not come to those who wait, they come to those who go out and bloody get them! BE CRITICAL. Does your work really look as interesting and engaging and mean as much as the photographers you have been researching? Is it as good as it can be? If not, then why? Make it that good, you have the ability. RESEARCH INVOLVES READING, NOT JUST LOOKING AT PICTURES! THINK. Seriously, you need to really think about what you need to do, what you can do, and want you truly want to do. Turn off your smart phone, leave the room with the television in it, close down YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc.. and shut down your laptop, get a pen and a piece of paper and let your mind take you where it wants you to go, not where your operating system or search engine does.You need space, time, focus, and concentration to develop ideas thoroughly, try it, you might enjoy it!


Overall you need to‌ 1. Research a variety of sources. (Primary where possible). 2. Develop your ideas thoroughly 3. Produce original and thought provoking images and outcomes. 4. Experiment with different materials and approaches. 5. Continually assess (in writing) your own progress. 6. Reflect on your work and research. 7. Use what you learn from this reflection to continually improve on and refine your practise and future final outcomes.

If you are continually repeating these 7 points then you are fulfilling the Assessment Objective that you will be marked on. The more depth and detail you go into and interest and skill you execute them with, the higher your grade will be. Simple as that! -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------But above all, most importantly – have fun and, TAKE AMAZING PHOTOS! Photos that tell a story or invoke an emotion, photos that confuse, attract or disgust. Photos that engage the viewer, that offer them something they have never seen before, that make them stop and want to see more.Your challenge as a photographer is to reveal something, to question, to explore, to inform and through this to provoke a response, be it emotional, physical or otherwise. Now get shooting.....



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A Level Handbook  

A Level Handbook