This year was the first time I have studied contextual studies. I have found it very interesting to learn about different elements that contribute to photography besides the physical side of it, which has ultimately helped to increase my awareness when being the photographer and when researching.
Learning about the background of photography and things that should be considered when taking photographs has proven helpful towards my practice in terms of acting professional. I have also found it interesting to learn about judging images by other people and being able to delve deeper into the meaning of images by learning about social and ethical issues surrounding the ways images can be interpreted.
It has been really helpful to learn a substantial amount about various photographers I wasn’t particularly aware of before, from historical photographers like Cecil Beaton and Yousuf Karsh, to more contemporary photographers like Madame Peripetie and Rachel Jump, which has helped with my research across all of my briefs over the year.
Some of my favourite lectures have included Intimate Lives and Family Albums as I felt this were more personal and easy to connect with. I also found it interesting to learn about the lives of photographers through visualisation, giving the feeling of empathy and deeper understanding of the person they are. I also found the Representations in Advertising and the Media lecture very engaging and interesting, highlighting key social, ethical and cultural issues, some of which are easy for me to relate to which meant I was able to get really involved with this lecture.
I struggled with the reading task based on Barthes, but purely because of my lack of understanding, which is something I hope to work and improve on over the remaining time of my degree. I also found that with the change over from commercial to BA photography, I may have missed out on some on the earlier lectures from the first semester which may be of benefit for me to visit, however, the lectures from commercial have also proved quite beneficial to me since transferring course.
My main downfall over the course of the year was not keeping up with my Harvard referencing, which proved me a challenge as the deadline approached as I had to try and revisit places of research from memory. This is my main target to improve on. I also feel that I need to cut down slightly on how much I write about some of the lectures on my blog and try to include more of my own research than notes from the lectures.
To conclude, I feel over the course of contextual studies I have had a lot of ups and downs but learnt a lot about things that I may not have considered before. I feel next year my main focus is to keep up with my Harvard referencing to be sure that I don’t have to do it all at the end. I would be interested in learning more about personal stories of photographers through intimate photography as I feel I can connect more with this kind of photography and it inspires me to think about my own.