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Author Topic: seeking feedback on new work  (Read 3319 times)
tgphoto
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« on: January 16, 2007, 06:26:47 PM »
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Hi,

I recently updated my website to include my latest project, "Urban Exploration: Old City Methodist", and am looking for feedback on the images.  I'm hoping to shop this around to some local galleries and possibly submit some of the images to a few magazines.  Any comments or critique would be greatly appreciated.

"Urban Exploration: Old City Methodist"

Thanks!

Tim
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James Godman
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2007, 08:45:25 PM »
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Hey Tim-

There are some really cool shots in there, especially the more abstract ones.  However, I'm wondering why you have no phone number on your website.

Later.


James
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tgphoto
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2007, 06:41:41 AM »
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James,

Thanks for the feedback. I don't list my phone number on my site because I'd rather first contact be made through email.  My time is divided among shooting on location, assisting, teaching, and consulting on site, so I don't have "regular" hours I am in my studio.  

My thinking was that if I am gone and someone contacts me by email, at least they get an autoresponse confirming I received their inquiry, something you don't get when leaving a voicemail.

Flawed thinking?  Maybe

I could add it in if you think it makes me look unprofessional?
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2007, 07:33:58 AM »
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Tim - a wonderful portfolio. I thought the images of the broken windows especially effective, as were the small semi-abstract details (more my kind of thing than general scene-setting stuff). The contrast of glowing light and abandonment is very poignant.

Not quite so sure about some of the pairs of images though, which didn't all seem to have visual coherence.

Seen on my laptop, the next/previous buttons are off the screen, which is a PITA! I'd also like to see a thumbnail gallery to view each image in context of the whole body of work.

And the present tense of 'to lie' = "lies", not "lays"!  
« Last Edit: January 17, 2007, 07:34:57 AM by LoisWakeman » Logged
tgphoto
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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2007, 07:43:56 AM »
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And the present tense of 'to lie' = "lies", not "lays"! 
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Thanks for the grammar check, Lois!   I'll take a closer look at the pairs--my intent wasn't to pair them but to break up the monotony of "1 page, 1 image".  Guess I didn't think they would be interpreted as such.....I appreciate your taking the time to offer feedback.

Tim
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jorgedelfino
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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2007, 08:18:35 AM »
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cool stuff! took me a long time to find the "next" button at the bottom of the page!
Maybe because of my 15" laptop display?
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Ken Tanaka
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2007, 10:44:25 AM »
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You have some very good work in that collection, Tim.

For what it's worth, here are factors I think you should consider as you continue to polish the project.

The final paragraph of your introduction establishes an expectation of a more humanist photo-documentary than you're actually presenting:
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In the years since the blaze consumed the church, it has provided shelter to the homeless, attracted the attention of urban explorers, been a research topic for architectural scholars, and the source of much debate over what to do with this historic structure.
The collection itself is nearly entirely composed of narrowly-framed details.  Many of these images make for visually interesting vignettes but they do not constitute a cohesive documentary body that portrays the story you've promised.  The images are completely devoid of people.  Only one image even suggests that the building is being used by anyone.  Instead, the images merely show small details of long-term neglect, a subject relatively easy to portray throughout much of northern Indiana.

So I suggest, for your consideration, that you return to the area and perhaps expand your documentation a bit.  Set aside considerations of photographically cool images in favor of good, compelling documentation with a camera.  Perhaps a few shots of former parishioners in or near the church.  What does the church's neighborhood and immediate surroundings look like?  For that matter, what does the CHURCH look like?  None of your shots are wide enough to disclose how the building actually appears from the street!

Good luck and have fun with this project.
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Best Regards,
- Ken Tanaka -

www.KenTanaka.com
tgphoto
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2007, 03:15:20 PM »
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Lois, Ken, and Jorge:

Thank you all for your comments and feedback.  

Ken and Lois, thank you also for the critique on my opening words--this is great, and I'll definitely be making a return trip in the near future.  Gary isn't the safest place to be by any stretch, so I'll likely choose another day when it is bitter cold and any troublemakers are likely to stay inside

Lois and Jorge, what are your monitor resolutions set to?  My site works on anything larger than 1024x768, and is a snug fit on 1024x768.  I've checked it on both PC and Mac using IE6, 7, Firefox 2, Safari 2, Opera 8, iCab, Camino.

To date, I have only had a few (3 exactly) visits from people running 1024x768 or smaller.  Most of the art directors, gallery owners, and educators I work with are running 1280x854 or higher.

I'll keep watching my stats over the next 6-12 months.  If I get an unusually high number of visits from lower res users I might entertain the idea of developing a smaller screen version.

Thanks again!

Tim
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jule
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2007, 04:12:20 PM »
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Thanks Tim for this opportunity to comment on your photographs.

Some of your images are very interesting, but some I find are lacking that 'X' factor, which I think Ken nailed  - that is the lack of human presence. Of course not all of the images need to allude to a human element, but the whole portfolio seemed to be devoid of life, which is not what you indicated was happening at the site at present.

The site seemed to be very clean and devoid of litter - are there homeless living there at present? or did you not include images which contained a lot of rubbish? Is there a caretaker keeping the level of rubbish to a minimum?

I would give consideration to putting some of the more clearly identifiable images of a church at the beginning of the portfolio - to set the scene. I purposely did not read the introduction before I viewed the images, and there were about half a dozen images at the beginning that could have been of any abandoned building. A stronger statement pictorially at the beginning that it was an church may support your theme better.

Is there any way that you could include an unobtrusive title or number identification for each image on your website? If you were wanting feedback from a client or gallery it is very difficult to describe which images they are interested in - other than "...the one with the windows and the glass broken....etc"

I don't think the pairs work at all. Interesting that you yourself mentioned the word 'monotony' - of one page one image. Perhaps you sensed the monotony of some of your images because they lacked that 'x' factor. I would go through and cull about half of your images, set the scene by putting clearly identifiable ones of a church at the beginning, and return and take some more images including the 'life' which now inhabits the church, and intersperse these new images with the best of your existing gallery.

Julie
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tgphoto
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2007, 09:05:17 PM »
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Thanks Tim for this opportunity to comment on your photographs.
No, thank YOU for taking the time to critique my work

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I would give consideration to putting some of the more clearly identifiable images of a church at the beginning of the portfolio - to set the scene. I purposely did not read the introduction before I viewed the images, and there were about half a dozen images at the beginning that could have been of any abandoned building. A stronger statement pictorially at the beginning that it was an church may support your theme better.
Good point.  I need to go back and get some of the outside and surrounding area.

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Is there any way that you could include an unobtrusive title or number identification for each image on your website? If you were wanting feedback from a client or gallery it is very difficult to describe which images they are interested in - other than "...the one with the windows and the glass broken....etc"
I'm glad you mentioned this, as naming/titling my work is one of those areas I find extremely difficult.  I feel sometimes as though the moment you name something it somehow defines it, simplifies it, puts it in a wrapper we can understand.  There is good and bad to naming I suppose, but the point about a potential buyer being able to describe a certain image makes sense.

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I don't think the pairs work at all. Interesting that you yourself mentioned the word 'monotony' - of one page one image. Perhaps you sensed the monotony of some of your images because they lacked that 'x' factor. I would go through and cull about half of your images, set the scene by putting clearly identifiable ones of a church at the beginning, and return and take some more images including the 'life' which now inhabits the church, and intersperse these new images with the best of your existing gallery.
I agree, the pairs don't work.  I was not actually "pairing" the images as much as I was trying to break up not the monotony of the work itself (I don't think the work is boring) but rather the page layout.  I find this click, click, click one image at a time not only consuming but tedious no matter whose work I am looking at on the web--it's the nature of this technological beast.

I'll have to make it back there at some point.  I guess I don't follow much of the references to documentary photography as I don't see myself as one.  I'm not trying to draw attention to starving children in Somalia, or capture the seasonal bird migrations in Alaska.  I am simply capturing a time and place and trying as best I can to put the viewer in my place so they can see what I saw at the time.  Is that documentary?  I don't know.  

All I know is I don't consciously go into a building, or to a part of the country, with a preset notion of what I am going to accomplish.  My work uses natural light, all of it, even the commercial stuff I've done.  Much of what I shoot I can't plan for the weather or know the conditions of my
 environment.  I enjoy the surprise of finding myself in the right place at the right time with the right light too much I suppose.

In any event, thanks to all who have responded.  I think I have collected some quality feedback and will continue to polish my work.  Maybe after a few trips to this place I'll come to have a deeper understanding of what it is I am truly trying to capture.

Thanks!

Tim
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Ken Tanaka
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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2007, 10:37:42 PM »
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I'll have to make it back there at some point.  I guess I don't follow much of the references to documentary photography as I don't see myself as one.  I'm not trying to draw attention to starving children in Somalia, or capture the seasonal bird migrations in Alaska.  I am simply capturing a time and place and trying as best I can to put the viewer in my place so they can see what I saw at the time.  Is that documentary?  I don't know. 

All I know is I don't consciously go into a building, or to a part of the country, with a preset notion of what I am going to accomplish.  My work uses natural light, all of it, even the commercial stuff I've done.  Much of what I shoot I can't plan for the weather or know the conditions of my
 environment.  I enjoy the surprise of finding myself in the right place at the right time with the right light too much I suppose.

In any event, thanks to all who have responded.  I think I have collected some quality feedback and will continue to polish my work.  Maybe after a few trips to this place I'll come to have a deeper understanding of what it is I am truly trying to capture.

Thanks!

Tim
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Hunting for interesting images in derelict urban buildings is certainly a valid endeavor in itself.  Such images, when thoughtfully captured and presented, can be very powerful testaments to changes in social and economic conditions.  So if that's the type of work you feel most comfortable with, and enthusiastic for, pursuing, go for it!

Ultimately, however, the story of these buildings is an inescapably human story.  The heritage of this church's area, in particular, is deeply embedded in the early-mid 20th century steel mill growth in northeastern Indiana.   The rise and fall of the U.S. steel industry was the sea upon which this church, and the entire area, tenuously floated.  

Most people looking at image after image of such decay will eventually become curious to know the wider story.  Documenting the situation would be quite a challenge on several fronts.  Of course there have been / are many outstanding photographers who have undertaken such projects.
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Best Regards,
- Ken Tanaka -

www.KenTanaka.com
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