I feel like I’m coming to the end of this course now, but it feels like a slog because I seem to have so much to catch up on. I’m really pleased I started it, I’m looking forward to completing it and it has changed the way I think about photography and the way I look at and make images. I really cannot begin to explain how impactful it has been both personally and professionally. But there are things I wish I had done and approached differently.
I should have been more diligent in terms of completing exercises and updating assignments quickly from the beginning because now I can see that I have gaps that I need to fill which is frustrating when I’m approaching the end of the course and would like to finish so I can start something new. The frustrating thing is that I know I have taken lots of images for all of these exercises; I just always thought I would like to do something better (or used film) and so there are gaps now. I should have uploaded what I had and then updated later on.
If you’ve read much of this site you’ll know I’ve studied distance learning before, and to be honest I find it really tough. I’ve also been to a ‘bricks and mortar’ university, and it was easier. Distance learning courses try to provide a social area, often message boards and online groups, but I find it so difficult to keep up with all of the offshoots that I end up just giving up on the entire idea. I want to take photographs, not sit in front of my screen catching up all day long. And I really need to interact with other students more; just one single study visit confirmed the value of that for me. So if I were starting EYV again, I’d certainly look for more study visits and make more effort to get to them.
I started to take weekly photographs and added them to the blog. I think that was a really good discipline for me and worked well. However, on reflection I should have made the posts more individual. There are a lot of posts that have really varied images – from London to gardens to vortographs and discussions about various ideas. I should have separated them to posts on sets of images rather than images from a specific week. But that’s more about ease for readers of the blog rather than the course per se.
Originally I thought that looking at the work of other photographers would somehow be cheating. I actively avoided it for a while. But it really is essential. And as long as you make notes of where your ideas are coming from and what is inspiring you then it’s not a problem. I’ve been inspired by lots of people; so many that I’ve really had problems keeping exercise 5.2 down to just a few specific mentions.
I used the course template for this site. The problem is that the course text often asks you to add things to your learning log, but the learning log comes up as the blog and the exercises and assignments are in different areas again. So when it comes to assessment I am now concerned about how assessors will find their way around through the posts I’ve thought of and added myself to find and pick out the various elements that they specifically asked for in the text. I think I would structure that differently.
I’ve learnt a lot about how I work, especially when it comes to feedback. One of the issues working like this is that feedback can take a really long time and until you actually hand in an assignment it’s virtually non-existent. I need time before I can make proper use of it; by then I have usually been working on something else. I should have aimed to complete assignments a lot earlier so that I had more time for feedback to make the impact it should have had.
I have a Skype tutorial a few days after submitting each assignment. They have all been really helpful, but I wish that they were shorter and more frequent. I do take notes during them, but it’s difficult to retain all that information. I should have asked to record them.
For photography I use an iPhone, a Fujifilm XT-2, a Polaroid (that takes 600 film), an old Canon EOS film camera, an old Kodak Brownie, and an Olympus EM10 Mark II. I also like to use alternative processes like cyanotypes and emulsion lifts. I use a lot of apps and create images in them that I go on to use. It is a nightmare to keep on top of all this, because some weeks I will produce hundreds of images. And these go along with other art I produce; various prints, paintings, drawings etc. Keeping track is really difficult. I have used Photos on my mac so far; I upload everything to it and then transfer it to Lightroom. Today I have been stressing because I could not get photos taken on my iPhone into Lightroom; it turns out Apple have helpfully saved them in a new format for me – HEIC – and Lightroom will not open it. I also have issues with photos from my Fuji that are ‘unable to upload to iCloud’. Some will work, some will not. This is a real problem for me and is the only problem I have ever, ever had with my iMac. It usually ends up being the images I most want to use, and I cannot get them to Lightroom despite hours of sodding about trying to fool my machine into uploading them. So if I were starting this again, I would try and work out some kind of reasonable system for keeping track of these files from the start. And I wouldn’t use Photos on a mac, especially since I cannot seem to upload images from Photos to WordPress; I have to run them through Lightroom first. I look at the photographic prints and files everywhere and I know I wouldn’t start from here.