Evaluation

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate advanced research skills, creating a viable and relevant basis for their project;

a)    What went well:

I intended to use photographs, annotations to photographs and additional multimedia overlays on these photographs. Through my research I was not able to find anyone else who had combined these three elements to help communicate a subject or photographic theme. I could find independent use of disposable cameras’ in projects and in other projects the annotations to photographs and in other projects the use of multimedia. I wanted to combine these three methods of communication into 1 project because it seemed the ideal communication style for my target audience, dyslexics. As such I believe my advanced research skills identified an ideal solution and I identified the means by which to do it. As the primary audience is dyslexic and prefers to assimilate information via visible/audio media I believe I created a viable and relevant basis for the project. So much so that instead of text being the corner stone of communication and photography being there in a supporting role, now photography is the core foundation around which all streams of communication are attached.

b)    What could have been better:

Because I was breaking new ground it would have been helpful if at least one person had done similar work so I could learn from their projects. Because these were not available I had to rely on my own judgment and find relevance in other research.

c)    Learning’s:

Because a photographic project hadn’t been done this way before it was difficult to explain to my colleagues, lecturers and mentors how the final piece was going to work. As the project progressed my peers and mentors really began to engage with the chosen method of communication and saw the value in my approach. Overall I am glad I stuck with the use of photographs, annotations to photographs and additional multimedia overlays to communicate my idea.

2. Apply critical analysis when communicating themes and ideas about professional photography clearly and comprehensively in visual, and written forms;

a)    What went well:

From a professional photography perspective I believe this project went really well, I didn’t want to bias this piece of work and so gave the participants good quality disposable film cameras and gave them open question that they needed to answer by taking a set of photographs. The benefit of film cameras is that the candidates could not manipulate or delete pictures they didn’t like. I didn’t want to direct the candidates to take either negative or positive images or narration and left it in their hands. As such the final piece very much reflects their thoughts and feeling and not mine. I therefore believe that I produced a good piece of photojournalism in which I collected and sensitively edited (arranged) the items to reflect their thoughts and intentions.

b)    What could have been better:

I found it very difficult to find a quiet, private sound-proof room in order to record the candidates’ reasons and thoughts supporting their choice of photograph and the annotations made to the photographs. Although this was difficult to organize and achieve I managed to do it for 6 of the candidates and it actually worked really well and added another very rich layer of information to the body of work and the audience. If I was to add further to this piece of work I would want to have better access to a suitable recording studio.

c)    Learning’s:

I learnt that in a quiet room but not a recording studio that the recordings were poor because the sound bounced and echoed off the walls, however when I recorded in a proper sound studio the recordings we extremely good and clear.

3. Develop their professional independence by defining their own position clearly, with respect to existing bodies of knowledge and practice;

a)    What went well:

I knew clearly what I wanted to achieve right from the beginning and knew that I had not seen a similar piece of work elsewhere. I believed that by using photography as the corner stone/ foundation of this project I could achieve a far more impactful piece of research. I believe that everything that I have learnt over the last three years could come together to create a good impactful piece of work. I could not have done this three years ago, I did not have the tools, knowledge or ability to clearly see such a solution and a valuable product.

b)    What could have been better:

Keeping in contact with over twelve candidates was difficult and organizing their diary and my diary was even more difficult, I used technology to help organize the candidates and myself and used my Iphone to set the timetables and reminders. I learnt this through the project, next time I will have this new skill from the beginning.

c)    Learning’s:

I learnt I was very good at approaching people and learnt how to empathize with them and how to read their mood and anxieties in order to keep them engaged with the project through to a successful conclusion. That said there were a number of people who seemed fully committed at the beginning but who later dropped out due to other commitments.

4. Evidence a continued professional commitment to the evolution of their practice;

a)    What went well:

I believe this piece of work went very well and I hope the audience will engage with it at many levels. The people that have seen it so far end up going back to it many times and get more out of it each time they go back. I believe this is due to the visual arts (photography) being the actual medium to tell their story. I think if this communication method works as well as I hope, it could rebalance communication away from the 95% written word that is currently used and move photography to centre stage.

b)    What could have been better:

It is not so much what could have been better but how it can be better; I would like to follow the participants over the coming years to see how they develop. I would also like to increase the number of participants.

c)    Learning’s:

I feel that photography and multimedia work very well together and by using visual and audio as the primary communication method more people can access the work and therefore photography will become an ever more important communication medium.

5. Communicate effectively through an extended critically informed body of work as appropriate to specified market;

a)    What went well:

I believe I have used the dyslexics preferred ways to learn and communicate, visual and audio, to deliver this body of work. So the work not only reaches out to a dyslexic audience, but also invites a non-dyslexic audience into this visual language when they view the work. The use of a computer to display the images as well as the wall space will also make it an interactive viewing experience for my audience. I wanted them to have the control over which order they explore the images to correspond with a dyslexic’s non-linear way of exploring ideas.

b)    What could have been better:

I would have liked to include all of the images taken by the candidates but in order to work within the restricted space and achieve the best aesthetic outcome for the exhibition I had to edit down the collection.

c)    Learning’s:

If I continue to expand this body of work after my degree show I will continue to use both audio and visual methods of communication and would like to see this work as a website where dyslexic students could share their experiences of university life.

6. Produce high quality photographic material within a self-defined and extended body of work.

a)    What went well:

I choose a good quality disposable camera with a flash (Kodak) to enable most participants to achieve as high a level of success as possible. To add to this I also had the film developed by a Kodak printer. I then asked the participants to annotate directly onto the prints so that no detail was lost and I could display them as artifacts.

b)    What could have been better:

As mentioned above I wanted to display the annotated prints as artifacts on the wall. However I didn’t decide until later on that I wanted to enlarge the portrait images, therefore I had to carefully scan and enlarge them in order not to lose any detail. If I had known I was going to do this then I could have enlarged the portrait images before doing the annotations with the students. I also had difficulty meeting up with all of the students to take a photograph of them for the computer, therefore all but two of the portraits had the same background and I had no option but to Photoshop the other two backgrounds as close as possible.

c)    Learning’s:

This was the right medium to use, it worked well and everyone knew how to use the cameras and the camera did not become an obstacle to the message. Giving people expensive digital cameras would have detracted from this piece of work.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For Evaluation from my initial Project Brief please see my evaluations and observations below in red italics after the relevant text:

Title of Final Major Project Proposal  

Dyslexia Through The Camera

Description of subject to be investigated

A brief statement (100 words) covering the main issues and subjects that your proposed project will examine.

I propose to create a photo documentary that shows the experience of having dyslexia in education. I want to put together a collection of images taken by ten dyslexic students from a variety of courses at Coventry University. It will be aimed not only at non-dyslexic’s (to give insight into this condition) but also at other dyslexic students that are at or coming to Coventry University who may find it interesting. The intention is for this photographic work to be accessed via pictures and a presentation with sound on a computer. The presentation should have the potential to be accessed over the intranet and internet.

I will encourage the students to freely draw and write upon their images and make sound recordings to illuminate, inform and explain the context of the photographs. These will be displayed as artifacts on the wall. To correspond with the preference most dyslexic’s have for visual and spoken communication I will also deliver an interactive visual presentation with audio on a computer as an alternative way to explore the work.

Evaluation

All aspects of the above proposal were completed and the piece of work has come together well and as I initially intended. I initially had response from fifteen people from varied courses across the University and from different year groups. I gave cameras out to twelve people and six of these continued with me through to the final completion of the piece of work. There were a number of other participants but I felt that I had to edit out their work because it did not fit in with the body of work.

Context

A statement about the context such an enquiry emerges from – what precedents there are: what kinds of work by other photographers does it lead on from etc

All too often information websites for dyslexic’s still rely heavily on written language. I have chosen to make a digital presentation so that it can be made accessible to all dyslexic students at the University as a multimedia platform of information and experiences. Dyslexics typically are visual thinkers and this project aims to deliver an informative product in a way that plays to the strengths of the visual thinker; photographs and audio files.

This piece of work builds on the basic truth and power of the photograph. To get to the real truth the subjects (candidates) of this photographic documentary are in fact the photographers themselves. I will give each candidate a disposable camera, this is a medium they are all comfortable with. I have chosen this format because the candidate cannot delete or manipulate the thought/image once they have taken the photograph. This builds on the work of Wendy Ewald and Border films, who gave cameras to their subjects in order to minimize the effect/impact of the outside photographer and to get to a truthful photographic representation of the subjects frame of mind.

Because the candidates take their own photo’s, the photos have minimal input from myself other than the request to follow a simple brief; such as take 3 photos that you feel represent how you were feeling before you came to Uni…. Because of this I believe the photos will be a more accurate reflection of the thoughts of the candidate.

Once the photos have been developed I will set up recording equipment and ask the participants to explain why they took each photograph, what it means and represents to them. I will also encourage them to express the meaning of the photographs by adding a layer of drawn on information using paints and pens. I will give them free reign to do this as they see fit (without my input) because I want it to be really personal, for example I will not restrict their use of words or correct any spelling mistakes because it is their experience that I want to portray.

I will do a head shot of each candidate and I will attach their pictures and audio file to their head-shots. The viewer can then pick a participant and view their drawn on images whilst listening to their explanation of the photo if they desire. They will be able to navigate through the photo’s and between participants. If they wish to participate themselves they could give me their details for later inclusion into the “library” of images and sound files.

Evaluation

This worked better than I hoped and everyone who has interacted with this piece of work so far has found the images, associated audio and graffiti very informative. I feel I have produced an insightful representation of my participants’ dyslexic experiences. The differences between participants in their approach to the task, their stories and even the background noise of them nervously moving the images heard in the audio is human nature and adds to the experience. However if I was to do this again I would try to minimize any background noise by deterring them from moving things around in the interviews.

what kinds of wider issues and debates will form the background to the study;

  • To try to understand and identify a better way of communicating with dyslexic and possibly other challenged students.

Evaluation through doing my research I identified my method using photography as the core building block and then layering other non text based communication channels on top of the core photographs.

  • To see if this format also works for non-dyslexic and academic students.

Evaluation I have piloted this piece of work and shown the completed project to dyslexics and non dyslexics and they all enthuse about how easy it is to get around and how powerful the medium is.

  • To see if this approach gets to the real truth of the dyslexic students feelings. There is much discussion and argument about the truth of photo’s and this is why the Border film project gave cameras to their subjects in order to get the real picture.

Evaluation. I got photos that I would not have expected by getting the participants to take the photos and then the additional layers of information were once again unexpected and created an honest story line which made the message stronger.

  • I have a concern that my approach may be too intrusive, it will open doors on the inner thoughts of people that in hindsight they may wish they had not told the world?

Evaluation For some of the participants it was a stressful process and where I felt the need I edited their contribution out to protect them.

 

  • If this approach works it will help with fair access to education and raise the profile of photography and multimedia and reduce the reliance in the written word.

Evaluation. Early feedback indicates this is very much the case so I am very encouraged.

  • This project and style of working could be Coventry Uni after I leave

Evaluation I hope it does, the Dyslexic unit at Coventry University can now see the potential of this medium.

  • Ideally this piece of work will live on, it can grow in the future when viewers decide to become candidates themselves.

Evaluation I believe the Dyslexic Unit at Coventry University will use this to inform and help students and their families once I have completed the work.

  • This multimedia non text based communication will add to the work of MIT and the multimedia IT industry and takes the photographer into a new world who has a vehicle to communicate a message to the world interactively over the world wide web.

Evaluation. Time will tell if this is a new beginning.

Plan / Schedule of work

See spread sheet

planner 

Evaluation If I hadn’t done this plan/schedule well I would not have managed my time well and by doing it I also identified that the Easter break would interrupt my dialogue with the participants so I made sure I brought key elements forward in order to keep to the final deadline. I learnt a lot from this and will be better the next time I do it.

Audience

Who are you trying to communicate with? A project can’t be all things to all people. Messages can be developed to reach a variety of constituents, but the most successful communications are targeted to a specific demographic.

This piece of work is designed for Dyslexic students considering coming to Coventry University and dyslexic students currently at Cov Uni. However it is hoped that other viewers would also find this piece of work informative and helpful such as friends and family, lecturers and anyone else interested in understanding dyslexia more.

Evaluation So far feedback is very good, it is accessible to dyslexics and non dyslexics in equal measure.

Anticipated method of presentation

A brief description of the particular mode of presentation you wish to undertake and a precise list of equipment required for the final presentation of the work.

Final presentation will be via a degree show where I will display the collection of small prints hung on the wall so that the audience have to come up close to view them. I want to display them in this way because I feel the participants have allowed us an insight into their personal life experiences and I want this to be reflected in the way the audience view the work; thus giving them a feeling of privilege (as though you would if viewing a diary). Alongside the images I will use a computer to show a presentation using images and sound files to inform the viewer. The product if successful could be made accessible via the Internet.

Evaluation I am presenting in exactly the way I anticipated and it works as well as I had hoped.

Additionally a very brief statement justifying / rationalizing this choice is required, but it can be modified at a later date.

I chose this approach to explore the experiences surrounding dyslexia in education because I wanted to make a truthful but exciting body of work that demonstrates the challenges and achievements many dyslexics go through in education. The fact that the participants helped make this body of work shows the great determination dyslexics have to succeed. This fits well with the current paradigm shift in which more and more people are starting to view dyslexia as an advantage.

Evaluation: I was excited by the use of disposable cameras and I believe the power and honesty of the photographic images has really enhanced this project and delivered the above better than I had hoped.

Budget/Resources

See spread sheet attached

Evaluation It was good to put together a budget, it helped me think about how much I might/was going to spend and made me think of cheaper ways to achieve the desired piece of work. I spent more on some items than I planned so knew I had to save money in other areas. I did this and the project came in pretty much on budget. If this had been a professional (paid) piece of work I would have covered my costs and delivered the profit margin I set out to. I learnt a lot from this and will be better the next time I do it.


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