Assignment 5.3: Shutterscapes

Assignment 2b Amend: Shutterscapes

Assignment 2.2 uses existing and new landscape photograph series from East Anglia, Cornwall and Northern England.

The Assignment 2 project brief explicitly required me to focus on skills development rather than content and meaning. My aim was to start to significantly improve my digital photography editing skills and develop a number of alternative visual communication workflows in different photographic styles in different software. More specifically to:

  • significantly improve my proficiency in different modules of Lightroom : develop module, book module, slideshow module and print module to see what can be achieved through using Lightroom alone
  • explore potential role/s in my digital workflow of of DxOFX (NikFX) filters that I had not tried before.

My selection of images from my very large library of photos of varying quality and content was based partly on their suitability in posing a variety of technical challenges. Some of the images are older and less ‘professional’ low resolution jpg images shot with an iPhone or old compact camera. Others are newer and better considered RAW images shot on a DSLR. The aim was to explore a range of interesting and relevant technical treatments in different software as a more creative way of discovering ‘happy accidents’ as visual communication rather than focusing only on more conventional ‘professional photography’.

Although I am not asked to focus on content or meaning, my discussion of the images and the ways in which I develop them draw on discussions of beauty/sublime, the picturesque and ‘tourist gaze’ in landscape and documentary photography and considers ways in which different styles of digital processing can alter the meanings of the photographic image. In each series I explore a range of possible aesthetic and colour and/or monochrome technique before identifying those that best communicate the ‘spirit of place’, different ways in which human activity has ‘landscaped’ the ‘natural’ environment and my own ‘landscaping’ of what I see.

A further key aim of this assignment was also to start to look at ways of promoting my work, starting with Shutterstock stock image market. Advice from experienced stock photographers is to have a larger number of different types of image – editorial, commercial and also abstract. Rather than – as in higher end photography – to focus on a distinctive style and niche. So an issue in selection of series and images was how far I thought they might be suitable as stock photography rather than their documentary interest. I focused initially on five series of existing and new images from locations in Cambridge, East Anglia and North of England that potentially offered a different ‘aesthetic’, were under-represented on Shutterstock, and which I would be able to revisit and extend in different media for subsequent assignments focusing on content and narrative. Of these three were selected for further development as part of my body of work for this module.

In the course of this assignment I also worked with other series of photographs of East Anglia coast, Cornwall and Lake District. As this is a Visual Communications and not a Photography degree I focus here only on photo series that are further developed in other media and/or for specific audiences and /or as photobooks in Part 5 of this course. These series, and other photography archives will provide a resource for future work. The other image collections submitted to Shutterstock as a result of this Assignment can be found on:

Zemni Images Shutterstock

I had drafted photobooks from National Trust properties in East Anglia and Cornwall that I had intended for further development in Assignments 4 and/or 5 but are now postponed by travel restrictions during the COVID-19 and consequent difficulties developing content with local communities and required permission from National Trust.

2.2.1 Aldeburgh revisited

Aldeburgh is a Suffolk seaside town that we visit frequently for short camping holidays in the summer and days out in the winter. It has a thriving tourist art market with well-known artists like Maggi Hambling as well as local artists.

I have a very large archive of photographs of very variable quality. In this project I focus on colour, using two series of images (one high resolution RAW and the other poor quality iPhone) originally taken as background reference for sketchbooks of Aldeburgh in Illustration 2. Focusing on colour styles, I explore how I can enhance the colour in the style of photographers like Martin Parr using Lightroom and Viveza, and how poor quality images can be developed as interesting atmospheric images in ColorFX and/or Photoshop.

See images accepted by Shutterstock: Aldeburgh

I develop these images, together with new ‘Lockdown images’, as potential cards for a tourist market and draft Photobook in:

Assignment 5.1 Wish You Were Here 1: Aldeburgh Great Escape

2.2.2 Suffolk Edges

Orford Quay and Orford Marshes

For images accepted by Shutterstock see:

Based on audience feedback I develop selected photographs as cards, together with other photographs of the Suffolk ‘shingle coast’ in:

Assignment 5.2 Landscapes of Place 2: Edges Shifting, Suffolk

I also worked on a photobook of images of the National Trust reserve at Orford Ness and had intended to develop this further, with permission and input from the National Trust following a number of workshops on the Ness booked for April/May 2020. But these were all cancelled and unlikely to resume fully and safely until 2022. and are now part of a longer term project. Without permission from the National Trust I do not at this point wish to spend time developing these photographs further, and they are part of a much longer-term project. Particularly as some of the buildings photographed have now vanished into the sea.

2.2.3 Norfolk by the Sea

Norfolk by the Sea revisits images of seaside towns, landscapes and seascapes that are disappearing with coastal erosion. Many of the cliffs and seaside attractions photographed no longer exist.

For images selected by Shutterstock see:

I develop selected images as Photoscreen prints, cards, photographic art prints and draft photobook in:

Assignment 5.1 Wish You Were Here 2: Norfolk Nostalgia

2.2.3 Lake District Sublime

I revisit photographs of the Lake District taken for a Landscape Photography assignment, looking at how processing these with DxOFX Viveza could bring these to a more professional standard.

For images accepted by Shutterstock see:

I develop these images further as art photography prints and cards in different photography and digital art styles for the tourist market in:

Assignment 5.1 Wish You Were Here 3: Lake Reflections

2.2.4 Dark Peak: Crowden

I start to look at ways of working with low resolution jpg images of Crowden in the Peak District in Silver FX to produce a series of ‘dark’ evocative images from photographs taken with an old compact camera in 2011.

I further explore this ghostly monochrome ‘Dark Peak’ aesthetic developing selected images in other media: Scraperboard and pen and ink.

In Assignment 5.2 Landscapes of Place 4: Dark Peak

Assessment

Aims and tutor feedback

Technical development and confidence in the professional quality of my images.
Greater proficiency in use of Lightroom and NikFX
Exploring potential of Photoscreen.
But most of the images are not yet either

Experience with Shutterstock

My experience so far has been broadly positive – good resources database on areas like intellectual and privacy rights, technical tutorials and quick and helpful response to some queries I had. I have learned a lot technically. and the experience has taught me a lot so far. Most of my 220 images were accepted when submitted first time (having consulted all their documentation first). The main reasons for rejection have been because of issues like titling, editorial vs commercial categorisation or keywording. Only 3 have so far been terminally rejected on jpg quality issues, but even these I think I plan to re-submit as more artistic creations using NikFX.

Sales have been less successful. Shutterstock is generally considered by You Tube contributors to give highest income because of volume of sales rather than percentage of price. But in order to make substantial income you need to have around 2-3,000 images and constantly have a drip of new images going on.

By the end of this module I had sold the images in the gallery on the right. I have so far sold two images for the huge total of USc50! The first download was someone local in Isleham, Suffolk and the second someone in Korea.

!! Add Orford Marsh Lake District, Snettisham and Cambridge Fen Ditton