Exercise 1.7: Assignment Preparation

“Dear Matthew

Exercise 1.7 asks me to write to you with my ideas for assignment 1. I’ve not narrowed down to a final idea yet, there are three (or maybe four) that I’m playing around with.
The first is to photograph in a library – trying to capture the feeling of awe that I get when among so many books, so much knowledge. I also intend to capture the beauty of the shelves of books – working as much as possible with the compositional techniques of landscape painters to create beautiful landscapes out of the scenes (but focusing on the books, not looking for a beautiful building). I posted about this on the OCA forum here: https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/landscape-assignment-1-reactions-please/4586/9
My second idea is more about received conventions of beauty, specifically relating to our homes. I intend to photograph the fronts of people’s homes, the neat arrangement of front door and windows, the pot plants etc. I thought I might focus on homes that are for sale, being presented at their best to appeal to shared sensibilities.
The third idea is probably more conventional – to photograph from marked viewpoints, but incorporating the car parking and litter bins showing that viewed from any angle other than that set out for us by map makers these areas are not “beautiful” at all.
The final idea isn’t really a fully formed idea yet, it is based on an image of waterlilies I took a week ago, which I felt captured the sublime in that the water is impenetrable, all we see are the reflections of the sky (itself obviously vast and potentially sublime in nature). It is as if we are seeing the full scale of the world in one image, and yet really seeing nothing at all. You can see the image here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BS0-8KthAR7/?taken-by=emmapocockphotography  My thought is that further images of reflections might capture a similar feeling of impenetrability, whilst simulataneously building on ideas of the beautiful.
Hopefully one of these will start to emerge into a more fully formed proposal in the next couple of weeks as I take test shots and research potential sites, but if you have any thoughts I would be very grateful. I am finding it hard to escape the feeling that everything has been done before and nothing I am proposing is very original.
Kind regards”
“Hello Emma
You have pinpointed one of the dilemma’s of contemporary photographic practice in that everything appears to have  been done before. However you may not have done it before and therein lies the challenge. Your thoughts, your ideas, your feelings as channelled into the work  may produce the spark of originality that is required to stimulate the resolution of the problem. Most of the ideas that you have indicated  have been approached before and indeed in the past I have produced work on two of the themes that you have outlined. There is a long tradition of alternative landscapes such as Our Forbidden Land by Fay Godwin and work by John Davies and others that informs a lot of practice.. The themes that you are considering offer opportunities for research particularly in reference to considering notions of the sublime and I would suggest that you select the one that you feel most challenged by to be your project.
Best wishes
Matthew
http://www.maryellenbartley.com/library-copies”
 – my tutor’s response here is encouraging, but most of all I am interested in his last suggestion, that I choose the idea I feel most challenged by – I confess that once I have some ideas I am happy with I am usually most likely to choose the idea that I think will be most successful in relation to what I think the tutors/assessors are looking for – I probably need a change of mindset at this stage in the course and should take the advice to work with challenges!

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