Knowing when to finish my body of work has been quite an easy decision in one regard and a strangely difficult one in another regard. Firstly, I found lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic and the act of making composites for my project (where people are intrinsic to my practice) were not compatible. I would have liked to photograph some more locations in Deptford if it had been possible but this was at the height of lockdown where safety was paramount. Besides, there were hardly any people on the streets and certainly not enough to make composites. As I had already photographed the main bulk of composites it has been a fairly easy decision to finish in this sense.
There has however, been much more time to think about how I edit the project down as well as present it and this has been quite a unique process, mainly because of the composite approach. First of all I decided to omit one half of all the diptychs I made for Assignment 4. I thought at first it would be hard to part with the diptych concept where change is evident across both similar images. Though when I really considered how similar the halves of the diptychs were and whether they added to the project, I think my tutor’s suggestion to allow the single images to take prominence was a good one. This in turn allowed me to focus on which single images to include in the final edit. Also, because of the composite approach I had employed, it allowed me to concentrate on certain composites which I could process differently to incorporate people in various arrangements. I felt this was one of the pleasing features of how I’d chosen to shoot my body of work. Here, I photographed on my tripod at each location for fifteen minutes up to an hour which meant I usually had a lot of material to work with. When putting the composites together I tried to think about how the arrangements of the people in the image could affect the meaning of the work.
I also decided to print all the images I’d produced in a fairly small print size (10×8 inches) and share them with my friends and family to ask them which half of each diptych they preferred and why (See Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). It was very interesting to hear their reasoning on which images worked better than others. Often my friends or family would observe details I hadn’t thought about or I had been too preoccupied with in the diptych context to notice. Therefore printing all the images provided me with varying viewpoints from others and was a rewarding experience.
For example I printed 3 versions of one composite, with the aim of deciding which arrangements of people worked best in the scene (See Fig. 3 and Fig. 4). However, when I showed the other half of the diptych to my friends and family, they were unanimous in saying the other half of the diptych worked better. Their decision was based on the skateboarder adding dynamism to the scene. Comparing the diptychs for this location in retrospect, I tend to agree. Dynamism and variety of character are things Deptford possesses and I feel this image partners well with the person performing a wheelie in another of my selected composites.
In another example I printed 4 copies of composites of the same location I had been experimenting with for Assignment 3 (See Fig. 5 and Fig. 6). I had a definite favourite in my head for this location but my friends and family’s choices were much more varied and crucially differed to my favourite. When I explained my reasoning for my favourite out of the 4 composites, they did agree though. My reasoning was there was a subtle detail in the distance in the form of a couple of people standing on the wall (See Fig. 7). The detail may not seem like much but in my opinion it adds life to the scene, especially when combined with the variety of other people apparent. This was one occasion where print size made a big difference. The 10×8 inch print didn’t really show these people in the distance unless the observer looked really closely/knew they were there! With the knowledge that my images would be appearing in a large photo book, I was sure this detail would be apparent. When I explained this to my friends/family they changed their minds and concurred this was the strongest composite of the 4. For me consideration of the presentation of the images was a good learning process and in this instance, I probably should have made my friends and family aware of the intended format for the images.
Lastly, I printed 3 copies of composites of another location I had been experimenting with for Assignment 3 (See Fig. 8 and Fig. 9). Here, my friends and family couldn’t make up their mind because all 3 seemed quite similar to them and all 3 they deemed to be strong. They did like the image where the gallery on the left of the frame was open. However, some weren’t sure if the composition with regards to the arrangement of people appearing in the image was quite right. When I explained that I had photographed from the same spot for about an hour for this composite and so had plenty of scope in terms of material to rearrange the people, we agreed it might be a good idea to try doing this. Since then, I have reprocessed the composite using Photoshop to arrive at an image which I feel fits in with the rest of the project compositionally (See Fig. 10).
Another consideration I had to explore was the link between image and poem forming a diegesis. Eventually the images I chose reflected the poems well. Though with one image in particular I had to rethink which half of the diptych I used based on the content of the poem (See Fig. 11 and Fig. 12). Here, I felt it was more important to keep the meaning of the poem aligned with the image than to choose my favourite of the two images. Besides the two halves of the diptych were so similar it was a close call which of the two I chose anyway.
I now would say I have edited down the composites to make a set of images which are the best of the halves of the diptychs I was previously using. I think my friends and family’s input has been invaluable as I have gained insight from people who aren’t as heavily vested in the project. I feel this is important as my audience for the photo book will be looking at the project with fresh eyes also.