Assignment One: Documentary Values

Part A

Produce a set of 12 images in your own style that incorporate documentary values.  Base your images on an issue or subject that you feel needs attention or which you already support.  The subject can be anything you like provided that the cause you choose can benefit from your work in some way.

Think about gesture, pose, setting and the inferred meaning or message that your work gives to the viewer (denotation and connotation).  Explain the values that each image has, why it is of value and to whom, and how it may be of benefit to either a group of individuals or perhaps an organisation or charity.

Prior to starting this course I had a discussion with my tutor about my progress so far with my degree, what I expected to achieve with this course, where I wanted to go after this course and also what particular aspect of Social Documentary was I going to concentrate on for the first module.  I had a couple of ideas but one of them it was decided probably wouldn’t lead anywhere else after the first module, whereas the subject we settled on may well do so.

‘Loneliness’ is not an easy subject to illustrate with photographic images.  It can’t be seen, smelt, tasted, touched or felt with our extremities, it is a state of mind and those who suffer from it find it difficult to relate their experiences to anyone.  Sufferers also say that it’s not necessarily a constant state, relief is gained under different circumstances for all of them, although some never find solace.

Many organisations are now targeting more of their resources on this complaint as more and more people become stricken.  It is now considered to be in epidemic proportions, and not amongst those that are most commonly associated with this, the old and retired singles.  Today, with the modern way of living,  single person households, family structures and break-ups, more young adults and children are being affected and my attention was brought to this subject by ‘The Campaign To End Loneliness’.  This campaign is not a single entity, in that many organisations and individuals are involved, they just provide a central forum where information can be disseminated.

My approach to the assignment was to try to mainly illustrate the plight of children who aren’t normally considered in this context.  I also wanted to try to show the effects this problem has on the individuals rather than just images of people looking glum, which normally denotes loneliness, but their real states where it can’t be detected just by appearance.  To do this I chose to recreate family situations and one single person: Why recreate?  It’s very hard to get a complete family or even an individual to discuss this situation with you at short notice, so I read the stories behind the situation, as provided by ‘The Campaign To End Loneliness’, and used people who were willing to re-enact the roles for me, my family.

There are three stories illustrated in the following pictures: – Broken Home, Moved Home and Dear John, all have the overall heading and title of ‘Hollow Man’.


8 Responses to Assignment One: Documentary Values

  1. Catherine says:

    Blurb won’t let me make comments but the layout looks good and I think the front cover has impact.
    There’s such a lot to take on board re this concept of creativity and how it’s judged. I’ve been thinking that there’s bound to be difference between students who are new to ‘art’ and those who have an artistic background of some form. I just wonder if allowance is made for where the students starts off from.

    • Eddy Lerp says:

      Thanks for your kind comments Catherine.

      The issue of allowances for new artists is something I don’t believe can be made in the context of a degree programme. Everyone has to attain the same certain level to gain marks and if allowances are going to be made for someone who’ s never done something before, how much do you give, is it fair to the rest of the students, do you then have to give allowances to artists who choose to study sciences? I think it’s much better the way it is, but what I do think is that more careful explanations of what’s what, and how to improve should be given to those not having the correct background. Just like they do on science courses, there you’re directed individually to specific self-learning to make up the gap in your knowledge.

  2. vickifoto says:

    Well done you. I think you are at a tipping point now, and things will gather momentum. You are making honest reflections about where your work is at—seen that both here and on the flickr site. You concede that the project is not perfect—but it’s assignment one—so the only way is up. I’m thrilled that you have opted for the ‘constructed image’ as a way of depicting a story. It may be me, but I don’t sit well with highlighting the plight of ‘real’ people—I have a problem with it being ‘predatory’. That’s not the right word, it’s too harsh, but if you can read that and think of a softer word—that will be the right one.

    Only other comments—I got confused when the same people ‘played’ different parts. And I’d rather have stuck with one ‘story’—or made each image a completely different story. I know that logistically that’s difficult. But I am trying to be constructive here.

    I think that other artists—painters etc have it a little easier because they can make it all up. Does that make sense?

    Good luck though with this and your new found approach.

    • Eddy Lerp says:

      Interesting that you thought the same people were playing different parts; the idea was that there are three stories there. The first five images make one story, the double page image and the next three make another and the final three are the third. Looks like I’ll have to try and make it more obviously different stories.


      I’ve added a bit to each image in the blog and the book to make it obvious hat there’s three separate stories. Thanks for making me aware.

      • vickifoto says:

        Okay—now with the explanation I see it more. Think it was the caption to the second image that threw me on the first story—because I thought the husband had been dumped—but then the second caption implied the opposite. My bad?

      • Eddy Lerp says:

        Not your fault at all Vicki, if you had a problem then I’d not made it clear enough, so my mistake. Thanks for your time to spot it and reply.

        What do you think of the Blurb book, Catherine tells me you’re the absolute Guru on those? Any useful tips or tricks I need to do to it would be most welcome.

  3. vickifoto says:

    Catherine is too kind! I’ve never printed one—yet. Both my assignments and my journal are laid out {in progress] with the final destination being a Blurb one. I think shed might be referring to the fact that I have designed them in InDesign—with which I am very familiar—but I still have to see how it prints as it is very image and graphic heavy. Hoping, beyond hope to bring them to the Jan TV meeting.

    How are you making yours? I am presuming through Lightroom? But over the weekend I’ll have a closer look and see if there are any tips I can offer. BTW—you Mac or PC? Just a pointer the dots you use […] known as an ellipsis; there should be only three. If you on a Mac, it’s Alt+; [hold down Alt key and press semi-colon key] If you are on PC, hold down the Alt key [for duration] and then press 0133 on the number pad-each key in succession with the Alt key still down. If that does not work, try again after pressing the Num Lock key. Good luck.

    Not having had a good luck—just check that your positioning of captions has some sense of consistency.

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