After producing the show getting the zine and shop up and running and speaking to everyone about the work I reached out and got some peer reviews from other professionals. I was really happy that I had the people offer there thoughts. I made a page with a video of me explaining the ideas I have, examples of the work and a button to get in touch that link is here - https://www.chrischucas.com/prock
Notes from Al Overdrive.
Spencer Murphy Peer Review
Just had a proper chance to sit down with a coffee and watch the video and look at the work. I think it’s great, I love the idea and the execution of combining image and text. I’d like to see you do more and push this further. The only place I feel it falls down is the quality and the repetition of imagery. I’d like to see you push on with it even more and introduce some of the looser style you have in some of your other personal and commissioned work and move away from the more staged stuff (see attached). The reason I love what Robbie Chilton does is there is a technical proficiency but yet an honesty and looseness to what he does. My work is at times more clinical and it’s something I’ve tried to move away from in recent years. I think I’m right in saying that all three of us have come up from a background of music and skateboard photography, so that inspiration feeds itself into our practice and will always have an influence. Try not to fight that. I think it’s good to learn your craft. I’ve made sure I am competent on as many camera formats as possible over the years. Some believe in one camera and one lens for everything but I very much believe in the right tool for the right job and shoot on everything from little snappy digital rangefinders to Large Format film still. I feel like too many of the images have milky blacks and feel a bit underexposed, which I think works in some but not in others such as the portraits (what were these shot on?) maybe some lighter images might break up the repetition and help it flow better? This is a never ending, forever evolving thing so don’t feel locked to any one edit. And by no means take this as anything other than constructive criticism, I’m in a certain place right now and looking for a certain thing in my work, so some of that will be projected onto what I am saying to you... I’m sure you are aware of them but look at people such as Ed Templeton and Jim Goldberg and how they document life around them and combine text and imagery. I hope this is helpful mate but if you want me to elaborate, have any questions you want to discuss further, let me know.
Best of luck with it.
Looser images feedback
I was rally happy to hear back from Spencer and I’ve been researching him though-out the crj. I agree with a lot of what he is saying but more than that it’s made me realise that how I might frame it ( it’s getting better) might need some condensing and clarifying perhaps. I feel particularly torn on his comments on preferring some of my looser images, he sent some screen shots of other work of mine that is very loose and personal. This is something I’ve been working with for a while and was shooting heavily in that way in the earlier modules of the course. Some examples below.
You can definatly tell that I have acticely stepped away from this looser style, perhaps from feedback from tutors in the context of what I’m tryin to archive with my outcomes but it’s clear. A progression of that with some later images below from the informing contexts module.
Lifted blacks film look
I love shooting with film but cannot afford to do it. I’ve always shoot raw digital images and make my own looks based of fujifilm 400H curve with tweaks and adjustments. I’ve also noticed that a lot of my images have large amounts of negative space and from printing on some matte finish art papers where the blacks don’t retain that absolute nothingness. So when looking and preparing images for digital viewing I would emulate that look by exaggerating the film curve. Full post with video of process can be found here .
I also make a modest living from photography and film making in where consumers are my clients. This film look especially is really popular and has booked me jobs and I am know for this style. So asking myself some ethical questions about the feedback. Yes I agree that the lifted blacks might be a bit much, I’ve experimented with more straight commercial looks and I just can’t bear to see some much solid black. So I need to look bringing it to some sort of middle ground and living with the edit to happy with it. What has really thrown me off at the moment is that I was happy with the previous edits, so were the community I did it for ( mainly). So is it wrong for me to change that for a better critical response? By making the work more commercial friendly look wise and I losing some integrity as an artist and what I set out to do? I don’t think so but I really want to keep that in check because I was using the lighted blacks as a device. I was building honesty through imperfection but shooting doing it this way as an insurance to getting work. If I did shoot on 35mm film it would take me a lot more money a lot more time and there would be a good chance that I wound’t get what I wanted. I remember doubting myself a little earlier in the course and then listening to Juno Calypso talk about mimicking a film look for her honeymoon work. Link to the podcast here. https://bensmithphoto.com/asmallvoice/juno-calypso
Aled Hughes - Peer Review
Hi Chris, it was a real pleasure looking at the photographs, seeing them
in exhibition format with the addition of the text moves them up another
level. I think you got it just right, the editing now makes for a
cohesive set, with the sequencing adding depth and another level of
meaning. I also think that the text is just right in format and size; it
took me a while to realise they must be lyrics from punk songs, they
never overwhelm the images and although subtle in some ways, they are
unavoidable there. The choice of words and the way you have cut them up and placed them entirely fits with your Punk ethic. The images deserve to be seen by a wider audience; get them out into the world anyway that you can. Thanks for the invite
It’s nice to hear nice things. I find taking positive feedback well, maybe I’m a pesimist. Aled has know me and my practice for a long time so it means a lot to me that he feels I’ve been successful in what I’ve done. To put it into context Aled is the only person out of the feedback reviewers that knows me very well and that I’ve spoken to in depth about the project. To add on what Spencer said I feel that in the FMP submission the portraits with the white backdrops, Aled also think that they worked but just not in the exhibition context.
Derek Ridgers Peer Review
I said I would look at the work and I’ve done so. Several times, over a period of the last seven days. There’s very likely an interesting story somewhere in here but you’re not telling it. The photographs themselves I find very unexciting but combined with the words - which seem somewhat arbitrary - do make for a slightly more intriguing whole. Although I would best characterise my honest reaction as mystified. I looked through your Instagram and your website too and I notice you sometimes use the same words with different photographs. That seems very curious. It’s almost as if the combinations are arbitrary (not that there’s anything wrong with that)? The photographs seem oddly underexposed too, without any proper blacks. Since one would never get to be doing a MA without knowing how to correctly expose a photograph, I assume this is intentional? In which case it just serves to increase my sense of unease. And having had some experience of shooting punk and punk bands myself (I even did a book), I really could not see any relationship with that subject here. Maybe that’s just my lack of knowledge of the current punk scene but if this is the case, the work doesn’t help me out much. Or… maybe the word ‘punk’ now means something completely different than what it once meant to the ‘70s generation? I’m somewhat confused. Of all of the photographs in Habits and Mindsets, the self portraits seem the strongest. And that seems to me to also be the case looking at your other work too. Some of the photographs on your Instagram and on your website are really rather good IMHO so I’m flummoxed as to why you’re going in the direction you are in Habits and Mindsets. Unless of course, the message is a subliminal one? If this is the case, then it’s really quite clever. But that’s more of an ‘art' type thing. And not something a photographer like myself would be qualified to comment on.
I was lucky enough to cross paths with Derek online via the Photographers United group. He offered to share some thoughts on it and after looking into his practice I was eager to hear what had to say. Derek has worked on lots of personal projects as well as commercial work. He’s had a book out on the punk scene from the 80’s. So generally from his thoughts, he doesn’t think much of the work. Dereks practice has beautiful images that tell stories about groups of people. I think my earlier work at the beggening of the project had more in common with his and as I mentioned above I had a huge shift away from the straight reportage style into a constructed scene world where adding text can be another level to the message. A few things I think I’ve learned at this point is, context is key. I might need to clarify what I am doing because it seems today the photographer and photography mean so many things to different people. When Derek mentions being unable to see the relationship with the ‘punk scene’ I think he has a good point. I think it would be a good idea for me to reference the work as punk rock inspired. Because really that’s what it is. It definatly is not a straight ‘documentary’ project. It is for the community that I am a part of and has evolved into ( an attempt) to portray a generation. Take away points from here is that I should think about framing my position or even if it’s just with peers. Ideally I wanted the work to be as open to interpretation as possible. I know bands and friends will recognise some words and maybe enjoy the image on purely an awesthical value. That is enough for me, it would be nive if other people acknowledged the wider scope of the project for sure but it’s not a problem if not. Derek also commented on the lifted blacks and was annoyed that there was no obvious reason for it. I’ve used it as a visual device to ‘build honesty through imperfection’ playing of the familiarity of consumer processed film that will have an emotional response to the viewers.
I’m digging your project tbh its better than a lot of masters stuff I’ve seen for sure on the images, I’d personally prefer a little more detail in the shadows, but the filmic scanned feel looks neat maybe make the ticker text a bit larger? It’s not as easy to read as it could be on my desktop screen its an interesting project, and I’dd be happy to see more as it grows on a side note, have u looked at much of Glen E Friedmans work ? i reckon you’d dig his Fugazi book, and also his non-band stuff.
Al is a commercial photographer that works a lot with bands and music people. I was interested in his thoughts and altough he was really busy he did share a few thoughts. Mainly on the filmic look and processing. Al mentions that he does a similar process ( comercially) but he feels some of the images have been pushed a little bit to much. So I think that has made me re visit the edit and potentially look at having a less dramatic curve espically in the shadows end.
I’ve been pretty lucky to get a really diverse section of working professionals to look at the work. A high end editorial photographer acclaimed for his personal projects, a niche landscape photographer with experience with working with text and publishing, a gallery and commissions classic documentary photographer and a working music commercial photographer. It’s made me realise how deep I am in the ‘art’ category of photography and how it’s a really small arena to be in. I’ve struggled to get engagement from others in forums and online as most people just don’t get it. Most personal projects are more traditional photo stories like photo journalism. It’s also reminded me who this project is actually for. I don’t think it’s for photographers and that’s ok. It’s for the community and anyone who wants to be a part of it. I’m still struggling with articulating the sentiment with words but I do feel like it is a solid attempt at portraying a generation using alternative approaches like constructed scenes and using text. I think the main bit I can’t discus with other photographers ( or what they don’t see) is my attempt at portraying a feeling in a image rather than being literal or telling one specific story. i like the work to be open needed and if it means something to me i’m fine with it having an endless duality for it’s life.