End of Course Evaluation

Course Evaluation

Context and Narrative has really helped change my approach to creating and taking images.  Through looking at and researching photographers and their images in context, it brings to life the image in much greater depth. I have started to look at images and wonder what the photographer had intended to convey and to question whether there is a story or is it just a decorative wall hanging.

My biggest take away from this course is that everything in an image matters.  For you to truly convey your intended meaning you need to carefully consider what you include, what is implied and what elements may symbolise or denote to the viewer.  Critically reflecting on others’ work is very enlightening for your own. I have also really enjoyed and benefited from the audiovisual conversation with my tutor. Getting feedback that helps develop an idea and see it through another’s eyes is really powerful.  We have had some great debates about elements, particularly in Assignment 4. He has also been able to assess the direction of my work and point me to other photographers and texts that have helped me develop my work even further.

In each of the assignments, I have experimented with new ideas and pushed myself to personalise the images. I have taken my time with each of them and have been pleased with the results.  I feel that Assignment 5 really is a culmination of the work done in course because I have built on the themes I have used for the other assignments, the truth portrayed in images. presenting visually unseen thoughts and emotions, self-absented portraiture and using surrogates and constructing an image to tell a story.
In fact, I have discovered that I like constructing images and really connected with the work of Noemie Goudal, Leah Schrager and Elinor Carruci.

During the course of the study, I have also learned some great writing techniques, such as the PEEL method of essay writing and the Cornell method of note taking.  These have both helped me greatly with presenting my work. I also found a great website that formats Harvard citations for referencing. That has been a great help!

Reflecting on what I need to develop further, my tutor has encouraged me in each of my assignments to reference influences, such as other photographers work, theory and also to say why have discarded an idea, just as much as why I’ve picked one.  In assignment 5 he suggested I look up historical use of flowers in art and their meanings. This is something I hadn’t considered, but when I did it added depth to the image and the story and also made me think about when I make an image, how do I want it to be displayed?  I have tried to incorporate thinking about presentation in each of the Assignments, such as in Assignment 3 which is designed to be viewed on the Instagram platform. However, these are the things I want to work on in the next course.

Overall I have really enjoyed this course and I believe I have developed significantly in making more personal and contextual images.

I have used my blog as my repository for all of my course work, assignments and learning log – Debra Flynn Context and Narrative Blog

Assignment 5 – Post Tutor Feedback reflections

Tutor Feedback – Read here

Tutor Audio Visual Conversation 13.01.2020

Assignment 5 – feedback

As always I had a very good conversation with Les about my Assignment 5 image and some of the things I need to complete ready for my submission for assignment.

Flowers – Les suggested that I research the use of flowers in art and photography and consider expanding on my reasons for choosing them, referenced against historical use and meanings associated with flowers. It is ok to do this retrospectively.

Print – Experiment with different sizes of print and make a case for the choice made. A smaller image, may give the viewer the opportunity to look at the image more closely, whilst a larger image, on a wall might allow the viewer more immersive in the space and emphasise the quality.

Meaning – Think about what the elements and symbols included a constructed image might mean to a viewer, particularly in the days of fine art / still life when a lot viewers couldn’t read.

Feedback – Having shown the image to some of my friends and colleagues, Les suggested I consider including a reflection on their reactions. What did they see or not see? What did they think I was trying to communicate? Did it have the impact I had intended?

Audience – consider what I am producing this for. i.e. social media, a gallery, a book. ‘Imagine it in it’s context’. Am I making something pretty for the wall or do I want it have such an impact that is spurs other people into action?

Assignment 4 – Essay – still need to rewrite – flag up what I’ve changed, show that I have listened and evaluated the feedback, flag up what I’m changed and why.


Finish up the blog, write a conclusion / note to the assessor, guide them to the important parts of the blog, assure them that I am learning and progressing.

In preparation for next course Identity and Place, look at some study visits, good opportunity to discuss course with other students, tutors and others with academic and professional knowledge


The audio visual conversations with Les have been the real highlight of the course, it is so good to be able to discuss and debate the thinking behind your work. He has been so good in guiding me to experience other photographers and read and research areas, I wouldn’t have found on my own. He also seems to have a knack of knowing what would interest me. This has helped we push myself and try different things.

I am really pleased with my final image and I really do feel that it reflects a culmination of the course. I feel like the feedback I’ve been given reflects the little extra bits that can I do to make the assignment really good and has helped me think about how to look deeper into the reasons behind what I’ve produced and the message I want give.


I have recently started using the the Cornell note taking method, which I found really useful to make notes during my conversation with Les . The picture above shows the results. I will definitely keep using this, as it really helped organise my notes and made it easier to write them up for this blog

Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye series: The Fae Richards Photo Archive.




Leonard and Dunye, created a fictional character; The Watermelon Woman. Using archive images, they created an exhibition telling the story of Dunye researching the life of Fae Richards a lesbian American-American woman from childhood to old age.

Dunye attributes her photographic falsification of a life history to the lack of information recorded in real life.

“The Watermelon Woman came from the real lack of any information about the lesbian and film history of African-American women. Since it wasn’t happening, I invented it.”

This is another example of individual images becoming more than the sum of their parts and that without context the images can take on another meaning.

The story Leonard and Dunye have created is believable because of the way they have presented it. but it is no more ‘real’ than Harry Potter. They say this is the reality that wasn’t recorded, however, they have entirely chosen which bits of the story to tell.

I have over 143,000 photos in my collection, there must be an archive in there somewhere

Hearing is believing


Record a real conversation with a friend. (It’s up to you whether you ask permission or not!) Before listening to the recording, write your account of both sides of the conversation. Then listen to the recording and make note of the discrepancies. Perhaps there are unfinished sentences, stammers, pauses, miscommunications etc.

Reflect upon the believability of re-enacted narratives and how this can be applied to constructed photography. What do you learn from the conversation recording process and how can you transfer what you learned into making pictures?

I often record meetings I attend, so that I can listen again, if I can’t quite remember what has been said. especially if I have to write up points made afterwards. Often sometimes later. What I find is that I hardly ever actually listen to them again and what I write down is the essence of the conversation. It’s a like a summay, my understanding of the conversation.

I think that a photograph is something similar, what you bring to it as the photographer isn’t a precise record of the event, but capturing or creating the feeling of the moment. Trying to tell the viewer, what it is that the scene meant to you and how it made you feel.

I think you can transfer, the lighting, the feeling and the ambience of the moment as it felt to you. Trying to recreate the context in which it was taken is also important in conveying the story.

“Questions for the Seller” – Nicky Bird

Nickybird.com. (2020). Question for Seller – Nicky Bird. [online] Available at: http://nickybird.com/projects/question-for-seller/ [Accessed 6 Jan. 2020].

This was an interesting project, whereby Bird bought images from the internet. Mostly old family portraits, which had not sold or were going really cheaply. She asked all of the sellers the question ” How did you come across the photos and what, if anything, do you know about them?”

She then displayed them in a exhibition and resold them via auction. Some were sold at a much greater price than that paid. 


Question for Seller re-situates images in a different context and in so doing allows for a new dialogue to take place. Reflect on the following in your learning log: •

  • Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images an elevated status?
  • Where does their meaning derive from?
  • When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their value increased by the fact that they’re now ‘art’?

Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images an elevated status?

I feel that their presence on the gallery wall doesn’t necessarily elevate them to art, but to exposure and re-interest. The fact that someone has taken the trouble to collect them and display them gives them an interest. It may also be because of the age of some of them, people enjoyed the social history aspect of the images.

Where does their meaning derive from?

I think their mean comes from being rediscovered. Human nature likes to uncover things that are lost or solve puzzles. There’s a mystery about them

When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their value increased by the fact that they’re now ‘art’?

This is an interesting question. I believe that there increased value is a result of them having been part of something bigger. By bringing them together and displaying them, Nicky Bird has added value to their meaning. It’s like the poppy display at the Tower of London in 2014. Each of the poppies was sold off afterwards. I bought one. It’s been in it’s box in a cupboard ever since, but I own a piece of the story was part of and that makes me feel good.