Assignment 2: People and activity

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Brief: Plan and execute a set of images of people in some form of meaningful activity. Concentrate on two aspects: on telling moments, and on 'explaining' the activity.

Butterwick Hospice's fair is an event that I have attended many times. With a variety of activities going on I thought it would be an ideal place for this second assignment, providing me with plenty of opportunities to photograph people and activity.

1. Bouncy slide   ISO 200   65mm   f/8   1/500

1. The huge bright pink and yellow inflatable slide was a prominent part of the fair. The climb to the top was just as enjoyable as the bounce down! I used a telephoto lens to zoom to the upper section of the slide, to capture the first bounce along the way down whilst also referencing to the steps at the side. On reflection I could have used the 'continuous shooting' mode so that I had more choice of which position the sliders were in, maybe with them at different levels of the slide. I could also have changed my viewpoint to the right so that I included more of the staircase within the frame, possibly using a portrait view showing the length of the slide.

2. Darts   ISO 200   16mm   f/6.7   1/500

2. A wide angle lens was needed to squeeze everything within the frame. I waited until the boy had let go of the dart before taking this photograph. I had hoped that I might capture the dart in mid-flight, but that was too optimistic! I like how the stall-keeper and boy are concentrating on where the dart is heading. Also, the location of the stall enabled me to position myself side on so that the boy, dart board and prizes are in view.

3. Gymnasts   ISO 200   200mm   f/8   1/180

3. There was an arena at the centre of the fair ground where different groups were performing. There was a great acrobatic gymnastic group performing in different combinations. For this activity I wanted to show the anticipation as the gymnasts positioned themselves ready to perform. I also included the spectators looking on in the background, but out of focus so as not to detract from the gymnasts.

4. Gymnastic spin   ISO 320   65mm   f/4.5   1/750

4. During the routine the gymnasts spun their partner round. I used a shutter speed of 1/750 to freeze the action. By chance I also included some of the gymnast troop sat looking on. I perhaps could have zoomed out enough to have included the gymnasts' feet in the image.

5. Hunger Busters   ISO 200   125mm   f/8   1/125

5. As with any outdoor event there were many food vendors. This burger van had a steady stream of hungry people throughout the day. I wanted to show the 'Hungerbusters' sign, server, people queuing and the girl who is just about to eat what she's just bought.

6. Stall for sweets   ISO 200   120mm   f/8   1/350

6. Using my tele-photo lens, I zoomed in and used the sweets along the top to frame the image, waiting for the moment both the lady and sweet seller were holding the tub of sweets. I had other images of the stall but I felt that this one showed the buying of the sweets, whereas other shots were of people standing looking at what was for sale.

7. Merry-go-round   ISO 200   95mm   f/8   1/350

7. The merry-go-round was very popular amongst the children. Another image I had of this scene showed a younger child upset and being comforted by others sitting around her. It made me think about how, as photographers, we have a responsibility to maintain the dignity and respect of the subjects we photograph. I didn't think it was fair to upload an image where someone appeared distressed. This image was chosen because around the shot it shows children looking happy and relaxed, enjoying the experience.

8. ISO 200   135mm   f/8   1/500

8. The purpose of the fair was to raise money for a local hospice, so the intention of this image was to show this lady getting money out of her purse to pay for an item on the stall. If I had waited a moment longer I could have captured the money coming out of her purse and I could possibly have included more of the stall and the seller.

9. One in to win   ISO 200   12mm   f/6.7   1/500

9. In order to include the penalty shoot out inflatable, spectators and sign to explain the purpose of the activity, I used a wide-angle lens. I positioned myself so that the penalty-taker could be seen in the centre of the image. I waited until he had kicked the ball, hoping it would go through the goal. He wasn't far off! I managed to capture the ball just hitting the goal with the kicker still in striking position.

10. Kiddies Striker ISO 800   125mm   f/13   1/125

10. I chose this to be the final image to illustrate the successful completion of a fairground game. The winner is carrying a cuddly Taz that is almost bigger than him. I like how the signs on the stall are crying out for people to win a prize and yet the winner in this image and those following him don't really seem that bothered!


Overall I felt that photographing a fair gave me lots of activities to focus on and my images portray the activity  I also had the time to choose the most appropriate scenes because activities were being repeated over and over again. On reflection I could have spent more time looking for particular characters that would have made the images more interesting. Some of my images have been very tightly cropped, I think I could have allowed a bit more space around the edge of the frame.

Response to tutor feedback

My tutor's feedback for my second assignment was very positive and it was reassuring to know that I'm heading in the right direction towards assessment. Technically my photographs are working well, but I need to develop my own personal viewpoint. This reminds me of my initial reason for wanting to study photography with the OCA, that I want my photographs to say something. My tutor has enabled me to realise that I need to put more of myself into my photographs.
Working systematically through the course file can lead to producing images that fit the brief at a fairly basic level. My second assignment fitted the brief by illustrating activities at a summer fair, but they could have said so much more. Martha Sandweiss referred to this as:

The capacity of photographs to evoke rather than tell, to suggest rather than explain, makes them alluring material...

I need to delve further into my photographic study to find examples of other photographers and think of issues that I could explore.

As I am about to start Part 3: Buildings and Spaces, I am already getting myself worked up about what to do for my third assignment. Instead I need to approach this with an open mind and see where my studying takes me.