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2008 Assignment Critiques - Rob Passmore

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Business Brief/Plymouth College of Art.

All of Rob's Work.

My Critique

Good:

  • Technically very impressive. Something that stunned us when we visited Plymouth was the incredibly high percentage of students who knew how to wield a light or two, even outdoors!
  • Good range and depth of shots and locations - enough to build a feature out of.
  • Strong DPS opener (3), everything all named properly and handed in just right.
  • A couple of very strong portraits (1,5). I'll admit I have a particular fondness for location portraits, and the one taken in the underpass (5), with the flash/ambient mix, is probably in the top 5 shots we saw throughout the whole brief. Technically spot on, lovely frame with a good balance between environment and subject, and just the right amount of ambient burning out to give it some mood.
Not So Good:
  • Biggest problem of all, is that the work doesn't answer the brief very clearly, in fact on first glance we thought this was a submission for the Sunday Supplement brief, as it seems to be mostly portraits of someone who could potentially be a Hollywood actor. We understand (and know it's our fault!) that the business brief was a touch open ended, but fundamentally we were looking for illustrations for the article, which was about business and ethics. Not very much of this comes across in these shots, without a bit of mental agility on the part of the viewer. I know Rob was actually setting out to make portraits of "Will Hutton", but we did point out in the brief that he wasn't available, therefore if you used portraits to illustrate this brief we'd like them to be creative illustrations of the business/ethics debate.
  • The environment shot (4) doesn't fit in with the set at all - whichever way you interpret the brief it feels like an afterthought.
  • It's not really a criticism, more a pointer for future reference, but be careful of what is called "incidental inclusion". In the opening DPS shot (3) a Marks and Spencer sign is fairly clear on the right hand side. If this work were to be illustrating a feature on "business and ethics" and the M+S logo was so prominent, the management at M+S might be a little perturbed, and complain to the magazine! As I say, it's not a criticism of these shots, just something to be aware of in future.
On the whole I love the shots technically (apart from that odd environment shot!), and there's some very strong portraiture here. However, more attention needs to be paid to the brief. Mind you, I've seen Rob's work on Flickr, and on his website, and I know he can pull it out of the bag when he wants to, I suspect many of his problems stem from a slightly vague brief on our part!

From Emma:

Right briefing checklist at the ready!

Well the subject is too young for The Music Mag brief, so that’s out. But he does have a lovely pair of sunglasses and shot 4 seems to be telling us something over and above the man himself so perhaps we are looking at the Sunday Supplement brief?

We could be looking at the Business brief but there seems to be too much focus on the one model here and, as we know ‘Will Hutton’ isn’t available.

And with not an apple in sight this can’t be our Education brief nor is it the Drapers brief despite the rather nice jacket the model is wearing. So I’d put my money on this being a response to Brief 2 and this being our film star Sam Delaney.

Reader I was wrong, and thus my main problem with these shots emerged.

Where I do appreciate the timeframe on this exercise is a smidge tighter than most students will be used to, it is a very realistic reflection of what you can find yourself up against in the ‘real world’. And subsequently it’s a great way to find out what you’re made of.

Not everyone thrives under this kind of pressure but that’s not necessarily a reason to shy away from it. Be aware of your weaknesses; train yourself out of your bad habits and never forget you’ve been commissioned to communicate a message. Whether it’s illustrating an editorial piece or selling tins of beans your shots have to stay on point.

Where Rob’s shots are almost technically faultless, the lighting well considered and the variety available for the Editor to fill their pages, I just don’t know what they are trying to tell me about Business and Ethics.I’m left with too many questions and not enough answers.

The brief says our ‘eminent economist’ is unavailable so who is this chap we seem to spending some much time shooting? Why are we trying to anger Fraser Hart, Hennes & M&S by questioning their business ethics? The passers by don’t seem to be generic shoppers nor do they appear to be businessmen, so who are they?

And why does our model have a jacket over his shoulder and a pair of sunglasses in his hand? I’m not saying economists aren’t a cool bunch (I’m not crazy) but this guy is certainly giving out more of a celeb vibe.

This work is a good case in point that you should consider the information stored in the frame and how it might be translating to the audience.

We are a culture ruled by stereotypes and if you put a pair of sunglasses in a shot there are assumptions we will make.

Rob you’ve certainly got talent and you really have lit your subject with great skill and where these will get your folio admired and eventually gain you commissioned work don’t forget to give the purse holders what they ask you for.

From Rich:

I thought this was one of the trickier briefs to handle and if I’m honest I’m not sure you pulled it off. You can obviously handle a camera, the compositions were good and the detail in your shots was very sharp. However I had no idea what the shots were telling me – Mobile phone advert, fashion shoot???

Using a model / friend could have worked well if you had concentrated on emotions but I felt that there was little point to the person in the shots except to show off his duffle coat. I think the portrait angle was probably a bad way to go with this and if I had this disk delivered I don’t think I could use it

Nice photos but essentially pointless, sorry

From Marco:

I’m guessing brief 3. Rob has clearly got a good grasp on the technical side of things and an ability to control balanced light. The location is good and the styling works. Very polished set at first glance, but… on closer inspection it doesn’t work so well editorially speaking. Though Rob has clearly thought of the space and proportions the busy background on the pds makes it very hard to get a headline to work and impossible for any bodycopy. Also, the lack of eye contact (except for shot 1 which is my favourite anyway) makes the shots feel more like a stock image set and less like an editorial story/portrait set. Oh, and there is no point to shot 4. If I was handed this set I would use 1 and 2 and possibly 5 but I would wish I’d had some landscape variations I could run a headline out of - particularly on shot 1 which really is very good.


Back to me now. That's it for this lot. My profound apologies for the very odd layout of some of these crits - I copied and pasted all the text from the original documents, and it appears the only way to fix the font problems is to go through each line of HTML by hand. It's 5.15 on a Friday evening, and that just ain't gonna happen....

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2008 Assignment Critiques - Jonathan Macguire

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Sunday Supplement Brief/Sheffield Norton College.

All of Jonathan's Work.

My Critique.

Good:

  • Very good use of an already pretty cool location. There are some extremely interesting angles and crops here. I know from speaking to Jonathan, that all these shots were taken within a 50 yard radius, and yet there's a great depth to the shots. The location is obviously playing a central role in these shots, but it never completely takes over, and it also gives the subject something to do, as well as a series of situations for Jonathan to exploit.
  • Somebody actually handed in a black and white shot with the colour shot as a backup. I'm impressed!
  • Not 1, not 2, but 3 DPS opener options (5,8,9). Top bananas!
  • Besides the range displayed in the location, there's a great variety of poses and positions from the model - not just 8 shots of "stand against the wall and look moody". I particularly like the "sprawled across logs" (9) shot.
Not So Good:
  • Technically they're a bit lacking in polish. I'd like to see something used to balance out the harsh sunlight - either some fill-light or just a reflector. It would help to lift them even further from snapshots and into the realm of Sunday Supplement work.
  • Attention to detail. I appreciate it was a bit of a crowded location, and as always with this assignment, time is not on your side, but there are a couple of shots where a bit more attention to detail would work wonders. There's a hand in the background on the shot with the hollow wood (8), and the shot of Sam reading her script (1) has all sorts of stuff in the background that only draws the eye away from the main subject. The best solution to this sort of thing is to get into the habit of running your eye round the frame before you've finished composing the shot and get rid of anything that doesn't need to be there. You can do this either by selectively cropping the shot.
Overall a very good entry, which if it had been lit or polished a bit better would have been truly outstanding.

From Rich:

I liked this shoot, it’s very bright and colorful. There was at least two I could use as an opening DPS and a good choice of other images for building a story. Good range of portrait and landscape too.

I felt sometimes the shots focussed too much on the background and the subject got a bit lost. Also I didn’t much see the point in some of the post production as I felt it rendered these shots useless.

I don’t think this shoot would win any awards but I could work with it



From Emma

I’ve always thought myself a fairly observant sort. Hawk-eyed almost, but with more mascara and fewer feathers. So when I clicked on Pic1 and spied the paper in the models hand I figured she was reading her script, all be it a rather thin one!

So of course when I clicked on Pic8 I didn’t fail to notice the disembodied hand in the middle of the image either. Now unless this Sam Delaney is being photographed on the set of the latest Addams Family movie, I think Jonathan may have dropped the ball here.

Of course I could be wrong and this may be an intentional nod to the craftsman whose yard we’re in, but it does feel a little too incidental to have been shot on purpose. Was there not a frame a sec after sans hand?

Jonathan, I do appreciate you’re not paying a location fee and therefore not getting the privilege of an empty set but perhaps there were ways you could have used this to your advantage?

Too many photographers fall into the trap of answering a portrait brief only ever placing the one model in front of their lens. With a story like this, a well-lit, perhaps front facing portrait of Sam with a hive of whirling activity behind her could have made for a more dynamic shot. You’ve got a busy set, work with it; just don’t forget where you want your viewer to be focussing!

You’ve chosen a fantastic location and explored a good variety of angles, really making the most of it and getting your model to interact with the props around her. I just think you can afford to be a bit bolder on future shoots.

From Marco:

Hmm, brief 1, or is it 2 again? Could be either as this set could work for either a folk singer or a celeb. (well, apart from the 25 years thing Marco, but we'll forgive you for not spotting that - or did you think the lady in the pictures was older than she looks?)

I have mixed feelings about this set – some of it is fab, some of it doesn’t work for me at all so I’ll have to divide this crit into 2.

Lets start with what I don’t like: In gallery order shots 1,2,3,5and 6 look to me a lot like bog standard ‘this what I did on my day out with my girlfriend’. Just all very obvious and compositionally weak.

On the other hand this is what I REALLY like: shots 4,7,8,9,10. As an AD these are the shots I would use for my feature – particularly 7,8,9. I would also ask Jonathan to supply me with a desaturated version of 8 and 9 to match 7 and if I got this I would be delighted. It’s worth noting also that desaturating 8 and 9 would overcome the slightly harsh sunlight on the model’s face in shot 8. All of these shots I like are compositionally strong and interesting.

Basically, Jonathan has done a very nice job but hasn’t been self-critical enough in his shot selection to drop the images that don’t work opting instead to hand everything over but that should come with experience. I would give him more work in a real world scenario.

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2008 Assignment Critiques - Meghan Giboin and Chris Black

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Music Brief/Stevenson College Edinburgh.

All of Meghan and Chris' work.

My Critique:


Good:

  • Technically perfect, very good use of lighting, atmospheric. Good to see ambient/flash mix used well and not overcooked.

  • They found a great subject - old enough to have been in the music business for 25 years, and very stylish too. No false beards here!

  • They used a good range of shots/locations. There are 4 distinct settings for the shots, enough to give the feature some depth.

  • There's really great use of contrasting colour in the cover portrait (2). You can't beat a bit of red/green contrast!

  • They followed the DPS advice well (1), lots of space on half the frame for dropping copy and headers onto.

  • Great mood in some of the indoor ones - particularly the last 3 (4,5,6) - very pleased to see some portraits where face is not so visible.


Not So Good:

  • A little too dark on the sky/fill portrait shot (3), needs a dab more light, also watch for reflections in glasses - am being very picky indeed here!

  • Would possibly crop in a bit on the garage shot (2)- just to lose the wall on the left.

  • Purely a point of procedure, but as I've mentioned in some of the general brief advice, if you're going to hand in work that's been grayscaled/desaturated etc, it's good practice to hand in "plain" ones as well, just in case the art director doesn't like what you've done. On a similar petty note, the file naming was a bit confusing and inconsistent - not something we really penalise people for, but as with other issues of procedure, our guidelines were there for a reason.


On the whole, one of the strongest entries we saw, and probably the best attempt at the Music brief.


From Rich:

This is a really strong set of portraits that fit the brief spot on. If I received these for a feature I was laying out I would be chuffed. I think you were either very fortunate to know someone who fitted the bill or did your research very well. Great colours and emotion and lovely compositions

On a professional criticism I would have liked to see more landscape options for an opening DPS and I would have liked to see colour versions of your black and white shots but otherwise I think I could have made a great feature from this. Well done


From Emma:

Well no problems working out which brief this team are answering. Congratulations Meghan & Chris, great choice of model and brilliant propping here. It all feels right.

The variety of shots used help illustrate a larger story. We have the man at home and on location, in B&W and in colour, engaging with the camera and caught in the moment of playing. The model is of the right age and with the choice of clothes here you’ve really given him a sense of character.

I’m a sucker for the details and with the cigar, whisky and Jazzy instruments these feel like very considered shots. If you dropped them on my desk I’d be happy with a job well done.

Perhaps something you’ve missed a trick on though is showing us some incidentals. It would have been good to have a shot of just his instrument (so to speak) or perhaps cropping in on his hands as he plays the piano? Also would a man 25yrs into his career still need to read from his score? But these are fairly minor points, more things to expand on than criticisms.

I don’t generally like to play favourites but Meghan & Chris get yourselves to the top of the class!


From Marco:

Hurrah! Not brief 2.

Nice job overall. The feel is absolutely spot on and by far the best choice of model to fulfill the brief (though to be fair this wouldn’t be an issue on the real job so is neither here nor there in pure terms of images). Also very good styling.

Shot 4 is my favourite shot but the complete set is very moody and nice with the pleasant contrast of the garage door shot to jazz up (see what I did there?) the overall feel. On the downside I would suggest that there is room for improvement on the technical side – more work on getting the balanced light on the sky shot would have lifted it a notch higher. I would also have liked to see some harsher and more selective contrast work on the b+w images. Even my favourite shot (4) could do with just a tiny touch of post-production in photoshop to get a little more detail back into the model’s face. But I’m being picky. Very nice job.

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2008 Assignment Critiques - Andrew Black

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Sunday Supplement Brief/Reid Kerr

All of Andrew's Work.

My Critique


Good:

  • A good strong consistent visual style across all the shots, yet there's also a fair range too, almost certainly enough to fill a whole feature.

  • Good use of location lighting, adds drama to the shots, and helps to lift them well above the snapshot category.

  • Very usable DPS openers (2,5) - I use the plural because they're both pretty strong.

  • An absolutely cracking portrait shot - probably one of my favourites - against the grille and the wood (4).

  • Some nice detail shots (1,6), as mentioned before, we don't need to see a face in every shot.


Not So Good:

  • The usual criticism about handing in work that's just in Black and White - tempered by the fact that we didn't make much mention of this in the preliminary briefing.

  • The Fiat Punto (1,2,5). I'm sure it's a lovely car, although not if the one I hired a few years ago is anything to go by! However, I'm not sure it gives quite the right impression in these shots. Since we're showing off a Hollywood superstar I'd expect them to be driving something a bit interesting - not necessarily expensive, just not mass-produced, mass-market. Bear in mind I drive a Ford Focus, so I've nothing against such cars, but they don't have the same connotations as, say, Ferrari, or a Jaguar, or even a 2CV, though obviously for different reasons. The key here is to have a vehicle that "says" something, whether it be "flashy git" in the case of a Maserati, or "quirky" in the case of, let's say, a Fiat 500. None of this would matter, except that Andrew's made the keys such a prominent feature in one of the shots (1), and the car is fairly visible in the colour DPS as well (5).

  • Slightly sloppy cropping on the detail shots - the hint of jeans on the watch shot (6), and the lock on the car door in the key shot (1) both draw the eye away from the main point of attention.

  • The lighting is a little unflattering on a couple of the shots (2,3) - be wary of using lighting from below!


I liked Andrew's set a lot - it was another gloomy day in Glasgow when we visited Reid Kerr, I do remember being in Glasgow in blazing sunshine, but I always seem to be in a traffic jam on the M8 at the time! These shots have a very strong and consistent feel to them, but are let down mostly by attention to detail, or lack thereof. I should point out that I find Andrew's work stunning, generally speaking, particularly his landscape stuff which makes me go a bit wobbly. Practice working under pressure, and pay attention to little details, and it'll be even more stunning.


From Rich:

Some good shots here but for me it doesn’t entirely fit the brief. Using an urban setting gives the character a background story which fits well with the model used (not sure it’s very Sunday Supplement though). There’s some nice bits of lighting bringing out subtle details and the shots are well composed.

However I have two words, ‘Black & white’! I would much prefer to receive colour images that I could turn to black and white, this really limits the amount of usable shots as I would probably end up using these as insets. Therefore you’ve essentially taken a decision out of an Art Editor’s hands. Also I felt your detail shots were a bit off, I would much rather see details of the subject’s (actor’s) face, though if these objects were mentioned in the story they may have some use? Finally your model was a bit static, I didn’t really get any of his personality and his hands are in his pockets in almost every shot. I would much prefer to see a bit more movement.

I would get by with these shots but it would be hard work making a great looking feature and I may think twice about calling you back


From Emma:

Had it not been for the fact that I read on Mr Miles’s critique that this was shot for the Film star brief I really would have thought it was the Business and Ethics task.

There seems to be a lot of focus on status symbols (the watch, the keys to the car) but none of them are premium enough to point us towards Sam Delaney. And for our location we have the slightly sinister alley, it all spoke of dodgy dealings to me.

In short these images didn’t really ring my bells. You’ve got some strong portraits and have had a good play with how to light your subject but the elements here weren’t adding up for me and I really struggled to get over that. Also the balance seemed odd to have just one shot amongst six in colour.

Andrew the work on your blog is so much better and you don’t seem to have done yourself justice here. The thing is if I was commissioning you off the back of your portfolio imagery, and you handed these in, I’d be a tad confused. They don’t seem to relate at all.

You have a strong sense of style and a real feel to your other imagery; if you’d brought the same approach to this brief I think you would have totally blown the others out of the water.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a photographer needs to find their voice. You want people to look at your portfolio and see your style throughout it. Commissioners want to know who they are buying into after all. There’s the old adage that a photographer is only as good as their last commission, consistency helps with this no end.

From Marco:

Nice job overall in terms of showcasing Andrew’s ability to shoot at late notice on location with a coherent visual style across all images. Also well done for remembering it’s an editorial brief and therefore leave space for head/copy on dps shots. I particularly like the courage to shoot detail shots as well as the portraits. On the downside I find the lighting on a couple of the portraits too harsh and would have preferred a touch more subtlety. I also think it’s a bad choice of model but in the real world this wouldn’t be a problem as he’d be working with the real subject so I’m just being a bit of an arse over nothing.



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2008 Assignment Critiques - Laura Liebnitz

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Sunday Supplement Brief/Glasgow Metropolitan.

Laura's Full range of shots.


My Critique:

Good:

  • Laura handed in a good range of shots - different locations, approaches, crops, and styling. This helps to give the feature lost of depth.
  • Very strong DPS opener, that's also very usable with lots of space for headlines/copy (shot 6).
  • Variety of styling - simple little details like bare feet in some of the shots manage to add quite a lot to the feel of things.
  • Superb locations - the civic hall shot (6) is fantastic, and shows what can be done with a limited time, just by quickly asking permission. Also love the glass brick shot (3) - the passing bus gives it real punch, and we don't need to see the actress's face in every shot.
  • Range of crops, full length; half length, close-in head shots.
  • Adapting to conditions, improvising well. The weather was foul in Glasgow that day. Rather than be put off, Laura incorporated it in to the shots - the umbrella one's great.
  • Listening to what I'd said in the talk about maximising what you've got. Look closely and you'll see that 4 of the shots were taken in the same spot (1,2,4 and 5). Yet there's 3 distinct different shots in there, the only similar ones are the 2 in the green jacket. By adding a jacket, and umbrella, cropping in and moving round, lots can be milked from one spot.
Not So Good:
  • Technically some of the shots are a bit sloppy. The lovely DPS opener (6) has a slightly wonky horizon, and would perhaps benefit from a dash of light on the subject to lift her from the environment a little (although I realise that may have been impossible under the circumstances). The landscape crop in the green jacket (5) is too "flashy" and harsh for my liking. The black and white umbrella shot (1) is perhaps a little too dark as well.
  • As with other submissions, be wary of handing in black and white images without a colour backup. This is a very nitpicky criticism, as we didn't make any particular point about this in the briefing.
I ought to point out that Glasgow was the first venue we visited, and we'd not tried the brief before. We were learning as much as the students were, if I'm honest, and we discovered a few basic production problems almost as soon as we sent people on their way. For the rest of the venues we gave a much more thorough talk before despatching people, and tried to guide participants around some of the obvious pitfalls. Plus it was raining that afternoon, which it hardly EVER does in Glasgow! Overall, Laura's was one of our favourite entries. She gave us a great range of shots, a couple of which were simply stunning. The variety of work she turned in is the answer to those people who come back to us and say "I didn't have enough time....."!

From Rich:

I felt this shoot wavered from the excellent to the pointless. Your straight portraits were very dynamic and could even make it to a cover. There were two very strong options for an opening DPS. However I thought there were only really four shots that were usable here. I would have liked to have a colour option of the black and white image you sent. The shot taken through the glass blocks is far too abstract to use as this is about the person.

The cropped portrait shot is very strong with lovely detail, I think - stick to your strong points and leave the abstract for your personal photography.




From Emma:

Looks to me like Laura has decided to shoot for the Sunday Supplement brief, a brave choice in my opinion as in the ‘real world’ you’ve really got to bring it with this kind of assignment. The tricky thing with shooting celebrities, asides from their egos and their agents, is that you’re battling with countless other photographers who’ve already shot them or are about to tomorrow. Capturing that definitive image for your client, for your folio and for potential syndication is a tough task indeed.

But Laura seems to be a girl up for a challenge and certainly hasn’t shied away from the job. Laura I love the variety of shots on hand here. You’ve given your client a great selection to fill their pages with and it really feels like you’ve taken their needs into account.

With the thought you’ve put into having a variety outfits and locations, having a B&W shot in the mix and playing with your crops and framing, for me, you’ve given the piece more substance.

The only variety I’m having problems with is the range of styles that seem to be at play here. There’s no cohesive treatment or lighting style to pull all the images together as the work of one photographer. You go from a bright flash blast, to softly and warmly lit interior portraits and then to a very dark umbrella shot.

Now across a whole 30+ page portfolio, with some good pieces to blend these approaches, you may well be able to make it work, but for a 7 shot story it feels confused.

Look over your archive, identify the images that you feel most proud of, the ones you get the best responses to and see if a feel starts to come through.

For me a successful photographer is as much about their technical ability as their brand. You want people to look at an image and know it’s yours on sight alone. Now I’m not saying you ringflash all your models to death like Mr Rankin but have a play and start to find your visual voice. After all that’s the fun bit!

From Marco:

Laura has been very ambitious here trying to get several types of shot at once and squeezing them into one brief. I admire her for her ability to get this many different images together in such a short amount of time but the downside is that I would have a problem making my pages look consistent. We have a black and white shot with the rest in colour, also an ID – type of set, a creative arty shot, and a museum curator portrait. Too much.

For my money the best shot is easily the cropped portrait against the brick wall with the nice contrast between human skin, rough brick and violently green fabric. This is a great close-up portrait. Sadly the matching landscape image is overlit (overexposed?). I think Laura should have thrown all her energy into getting variants of this shot to work using a selection of images from the tight crop she has supplied then ranging out to full figure using the grey brick background to provide some dead image for copy space.

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2008 Assignment Critiques - Amie Parsons

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I've already critiqued Amie's work, as she asked me to for a college assignment, so her's will follow a slightly different format to the others. I'm a lazy sod and can't be bothered to re-write it!

Sunday Supplement Brief/ Sheffield Norton College

Tom's Critique:

Amie has produced one of the most, if not the most polished answer to this brief across all the 12 colleges we visited. The 2nd part of the brief where mention is made of Rankin and others was supposed to prevent people from just shooting their mates in a grotty flat, but unfortunately all too many people didn't make much effort in this respect, and it was very rare to see production values at the level Amie has used. The choice of model is excellent, along with the variety of clothing (far too many people just used 1 outfit) and attention to detail - there's different jewellery in the shot - another rare thing, along with different shoes. Having said that the patterned dress used in the first DPS (1) seems a little out of place on the plain black background, and not quite in keeping with the more formal feel of the other clothes. Mind you, that's more a styling criticism than a photography criticism!

I like the fact that the lighting is not only very well balanced, but is also consistent across the shots. With a subject such as this, and a clean, studio feel, it would be a bit inappropriate to start mucking about with harsh shadows, flare and other tricks - the strong simple approach works very well here. The back-light has been kept under control too, as it's very common to see people overcooking it and burning things out.

Across the range of shots there's a very "hollywood"/High Class feel to things - very classical poses, and "filmic" feel to the lighting. The reclining pose in the red dress (2), and the close up shots (3,8) are very reminiscent of "Golden Age" Studio portraiture, and since this is supposed to be a series on a well known actress it fits the bill perfectly.

I was impressed by the range of shots - there's lots of different options for the Art Director to play with in their layouts. The variation from full length shots (2,7), right up to Head and Shoulders Close ups (3,6,8) is very good as well, and prevents the shots from looking repetitive. There's even a range of opening Double-Page-Spreads to choose from (1,2).

If I could criticise anything about this entry I'd possibly like to see a different background or situation - although there is something to be said for the harmony of having all the shots on black. Overall though, it's very hard to criticise anything, as it's one of the strongest entries we saw. Top bananas.

From Rich:

I thought these images fitted the brief really well. They are well produced with good lighting, sharp detail and lots of space. I was particularly impressed with the range of shots from a single setting, good use of different outfits, poses and crops.

If I was laying out this feature in a Sunday Supplement I would breathe a big sigh of relief with these images as it would make my job very easy. Plenty of room for headlines and story text. Good mix of portrait and landscape too (not just the same shots with the camera turned round). With at least two shots there to use as possible covers and a further two as excellent opening spreads I would be more than happy to receive this shoot. Tick!


From Emma:

I like Amies tackling of this brief. Bringing her star into the studio she’s gone for a shoot that is as much about the fashion as it is the model.

And Amie I certainly salute your styling considerations! Four wardrobe changes in eight shots really helped to keep the pace of this shoot going. I also like that you’ve taken a simple/classic approach to the brief through your lighting and model poses, but still provided your client with a good variety of crops and compositions.

Approaching the celeb spread like this is a popular method seen in monthly woman’s magazines, and one that presents the photographer with a great opportunity to have a play with expressions and personality.

After all this isn’t a regular model and definitely more than a clotheshorse, this is a movie star and your audience are coming with a set of fixed assumptions. This gives you great scope to play. You can turn a comedic character into a classic beauty or show the softer side of an action star. Think Bonnie Wright (of Harry Potter fame) in the recent Grazia fashion story and Sienna Miller in the Boss perfume ads.

I suppose this is where my only, very small, criticism comes in.

Shots 4 & 7 have your model looking mighty uncomfortable and ever so slightly contorted. If poses aren’t working or your model is starting to tire don’t be afraid to lighten the mood in the studio a bit and even get them to start doing a few daft things.

You can keep the shots polished and glamorous and still a inject bit of relaxed fun into the shoot. I always quite like it when you get a couple of looser laughing shots in amongst the poses.

Overall very good Amie, I’ll be keeping an eye out for you in years to come.

From Marco

Amie seems to have studied some classic film portraiture poses and used them so hats off to her for her research (or possibly basic knowledge as she may have already known these). I like the range of images provided and the fact she allowed for copy space on several of her images. Also well done on thinking about a range of different clothing items. Technically also the lighting is nice and polished and I particularly like the use of backlight on some of the images.

If I had to pick holes I would say I would have preferred some form of background or setting such as a hotel room (most likely location in the circumstances described by the brief) but better to shoot as Amie has done in the studio and get it right than to task load on location and screw it all up so possibly a good call. As an AD I would be satisfied with the job but would try and push her for location work next time.

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2008 Assignment Critiques

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Something here I meant to get published before the tour started, but for various reasons it never quite made it. I certainly couldn't find the time during the tour, but on a day like this, when my other alternatives include some very boring admin, it's suddenly very tempting!

Anyway, months back I asked a couple of art directors and a photographer's agent if they wouldn't mind critiquing some of the submissions from the assignment in 2008. Obviously, I also checked with the 7 students in question as well (Amie Parsons, Andrew Black, Jonathan Macguire, Laura Liebnitz, Rob Passmore, and Meghan Giboin and Chris Black), and so here we have 6 submissions to the brief, (Meghan and Chris were working together) with a full critique from the following 3 people, Marco Crisari, Emma Taylor, and Rich Davis. For a reminder of last year's briefs, check the drop down menu on the right - 2008 Briefs Analysed. before we begin though, here's a quick introduction to each "critter":


Marco Crisari


Marco Crisari is a former art editor of MacUser, Wired UK, Maxim, and Men's Fitness.
Since going freelance in 2005 he has worked on many news-stand titles such as Loaded, Radio Times, Woman, Gardeners World, Shoot and, currently, Triathlete's World as well as doing contract publishing work for clients as varied as Royal Mail, Mazda, Marks and Spencer, NSPCC, Sotheby's, and many more. In his spare time he likes to pluck the bread out of the mouths of hard working photographers' kiddies by taking the odd snap - particularly under water. Marco came along to UEL on this year's tour to help with portfolio critiques and the assignment



Emma Taylor

Emma Taylor is a Photographer and Illustrators Agent at Vue, currently representing seven photographers. Although based in London Vue has a worldwide reach working with Ad Agencies across Europe, Asia and the USA. Since joining the company in 2004 Emma has run shoots for Peugeot, LandRover, U2, Doves, Oxfam, Galaxy and many, many more clients besides. When she’s not negotiating budgets, corralling models and coming up with new marketing ideas, Emma can often be seen wandering the streets of London with very heavy portfolio bags. Emma was around at Sheffield Norton this year, to give portfolio critiques, and help out with the assignment work.

Rich Davis

Rich Davis is a freelance Art Director whose experience covers RCN Publishing, Haymarket, and Dennis Publishing. He was until recently the Art Director of Inside Poker Magazine, where he had the "privilege" of putting some of the biggest names in the Poker world on the cover. He has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of music, and his greatest achievement was persuading his wife to let their first dance at their wedding be "Oh Gino" by Dexy's Midnight Runners.

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The Scores on the Board

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My washbag, finally unpacked after nearly 4 months.

So that's it - the Nikon/Calumet/Photosmudger roadshow is done for another year. Coincidentally it brings to an end almost 4 months of being on the road, shooting as well as lecturing. By my estimation I've not spent 7 consecutive nights in my own bed since the start of August - hence my ritual unpacking of my toilet bag on Friday night - how very rock n' roll!

A few quick figures to sum up this year's tour:
  • Total number of students attending the morning lecture - 700+
  • Total number of students taking up the afternoon challenge - 225+
  • Total mileage travelled - 4400 + miles. Ouch. Very grateful I didn't drive for all of them.
And now in a bit more depth....

The usual bullet point list here folks - I'm such a lazy writer! You may also want to check out my feedback from last year's tour, as there are more than a few similarities!

Dave, intently listening to his camera during a flash demo. I wonder what it was saying?

Good Things about the Tour:
  • Everyone who accepted the afternoon challenge. As mentioned above, that's more than 225 people. I totally understand that it's quite daunting being given a brief, then only 3 hours to shoot and edit it in. Add to this the requirements of an invoice, and the pressure of a group critique and you've got a potential nightmare. I'd have shat myself if this happened to me at college! We saw some very impressive results in this year's challenge, right from the first venue.
  • Keen people who ask questions. I love it when people have a whole list of stuff they want to ask me after the talk (yes, this means you, Arek). It implies they're thinking a great deal about what they're going to do next, and want to milk me for all the information they can.
  • Overall very good invoices and paperwork to accompany the afternoon challenge pictures. Bonus points go to the 3 people who handed in their own invoices, as well as the tiny handful of people who had clearly read the blog beforehand and knew proper industry terms like "below the line". I'm not writing all this for a laugh you know.....
  • Much better technical quality of work than last year. I spent far less time tearing apart people's work from a basic technical standpoint than I did in 2008, and that's very encouraging. Still a few technical errors (including some whoppers) here and there, but most definitely progress.
  • Just like last year, I'm consistently impressed with the facilities available at colleges. I know no students will believe me, but you really have got it good. Every single place we visited was much better equipped than where I studied in the mid-90's, so there's no excuse for not making maximum use of said facilities.
  • The Flash demo. We started it as a bit of a filler at Glasgow Met, to give us something to do between setting the challenge and doing the critique, and it rapidly became very popular. There still seems to be a big "fear" of flash out there, and yet learning to light properly is probably the biggest single thing you can do to separate yourself from the keen amateur. Flashguns are probably the most versatile, and cheapest way into this, and we had a lot of very interested folks who seemed slightly amazed that I shot beauty shots, action shots, and magazine covers, all with humble flashguns.
  • The food at Sheffield Hallam and Newcastle. Awesome, if only we'd been able to stay longer and settle into the coffees, cigars and brandies!

Extreme Close-ups at Glasgow Met.

Not so good things about the tour:
  • To mirror what I've said above - I was very disappointed by those who didn't do the afternoon challenge. Above all those who took the brief at midday, then never showed up for the critique. I'm not that scary. My main reason for disappointment lies in the fact that, as I've stressed many times on Photosmudger, and during the talk - this is not the sort of industry where things are handed to you on a plate, you're going to have to get out there yourself and show lots of initiative if you want to make a career out of it. Not even attempting a project like this doesn't bode well.
  • On the same topic, there was a general level of "can't be arsed" about some places and students. I realise I'm not to everyone's cup of tea, and that I'm not a big name, but the sort of things I'm talking about (business, organising shoots, how to get work and so on) are relevant whether you choose to follow a path like mine, or shoot weddings, or travel the world shooting for stock libraries and so on. Whether this lack of interest manifests itself in signing up for something, then not showing, or sitting stunned after the talk with an empty head and no questions, it demonstrates what I've just mentioned above - a lack of initiative and drive that doesn't promise well for a future career!
  • A bit of a gripe here, but I can't let it slip. It was very easy working in Derby, Edinburgh Stevenson, Reid Kerr, UWE, and Sheffield Norton as we DIDN'T HAVE TO MOVE ANY OF OUR GEAR ALL DAY LONG! Sorry, that just slipped out. I realise that organising facilities at colleges can be like getting blood out of a stone, and on the whole lecturers have gone to great lengths to accommodate us, but as a request, if we do this again, we'd all be much happier in one room all day long! Even if it's small, or not perfect for all purposes - I know I'd rather talk to a crowded but cramped classroom full of people, rather than an empty lecture hall. I also realise that the original requests from Calumet may have been different to this - apologies if we're not all singing from the same hymn sheet.

Lecturing at Reid Kerr, sadly without spooky audio from next door.

And on a lighter note, some of the more amusing incidents along the way:
  • Watching Duncan peel off through heavy traffic in a Newcastle rush hour and head over the Tyne, whilst following behind and taking the correct turn. He was on speaker phone the entire time, and he can swear like a true Scotsman!
  • On a related car note - playing "hide and seek" with the cars in Preston. It wasn't actually that funny, just a pain in the proverbial.
  • Being told off for turning on a projector without asking for help at Reid Kerr. What was I thinking?
  • Having no Nikon bags on the first day. Makes us look very professional.
  • Getting lost, not once but several times, at several places, whilst looking for the gents. It's my age, or something.
  • Dennis' sales talk for the D3s at UEL. He just couldn't help himself, and launched into full Nikon-spiel mode.
  • Some of the more "amusing" interpretations of the brief. I won't embarrass them by naming them, but when the subject matter is "The Hat" I expect to see a hat somewhere in the shot - even if it's only a shadow or something. Likewise, despite explaining it pretty clearly "usage" refers to the usage the images will be put to, rather than what the subject matter is used for. Funnily enough, I already know what sports shoes can be used for.....
  • Putting together the goodie bags whilst singing Right Said Fred, American Pie and Hello Dolly. Not one of us can sing, but that didn't stop us trying.
  • Speaking of singing, it was very spooky giving the lecture at Reid Kerr whilst there was some kind of kindergarten singing school going on in the next room. Every few minutes snatches of "hot cross buns" and "baa baa black sheep" came filtering through the adjoining door. Very surreal indeed.
  • Getting snapped for the local paper up in Aberdeen. Ah, that took me back a few years I can tell you...
And now, I'd like to hear what everyone else thought, and above all if anyone has any suggestions (constructive only please) for improvements. Next year is by no means confirmed, but it doesn't hurt to ask! Add your thoughts in the comments please.

I've still got a couple of things to add to the blog yet, but that's it for the "roadshow" side of things. Read more on "The Scores on the Board"!

Post-Roadshow Report Card - University of Derby

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Dave waving at the crowd in Derby. Wave back everyone!

The last, final, terminal and ultimate stop on the tour - University of Derby today. And what a lovely day to finish on, if I say so myself:
  • Student Turnout - 7/10. Good but not great numbers, but a very enthusiastic and engaged crowd, which more than made up for it.
  • Number of Questions Asked - 9/10. Lots and lots, which is always great. It demonstrates that people are thinking about things, and want to know more.
  • Number of group hugs by Tom, David and Duncan - 1/1. But only very briefly, as to be honest it felt a bit odd.
  • Ability to handle the assignment - 7/10. Pretty good all round. Some very resourceful shots, and some very thorough invoices and business stuff. But I'd expect nothing less from a degree in Commercial Photography.
  • Pleasure factor caused by being in the same room all day - 10/10. Ah, the joy of not having to pack the gear up every hour or so and traipse around the campus - cheers Mark!
  • Quality of Tea and Cakes - 6/10. It kept coming all day long, which is what we like.
  • Number of Students in the Audience who were also in the presentation - 1/1. For the last time this year, a star appearance by one of my work experience guys.
  • Number of free Fairground rides taken during the assignment - 1/1. You know when I went on about "enjoy your work/love what you do" in the talk. Well, this guy was listening!
And there we have it. 14 dates, 2 very long months, more mileage, hotel rooms, goodie bags to pack, and early starts than I can shake a stick at. Over the next few days I'll do some rounding up on the blog, and I've got a couple of things up my sleeve before I sign off until next year, but for now here's the requisite credits and thanks:
  • First off, thanks to David and Dennis at Nikon, and Duncan and James at Calumet. It's a cliche I know, but I couldn't have done it without you. Besides which, the premier travel inns would have been really lonely without you guys around. I can't thank you guys enough for all the hard work you've put in.
  • Thanks also to Andy Taylor at Calumet, and Jeremy and James at Nikon - these are the guys who, like the man from Del Monte, say "yes" to the entire thing, and let us guys go swanning off all over the country for weeks on end!
  • Special thanks to John McDonald, for starting the ball rolling this year.
  • Big up to my critiquing homies - Simon Leach, Emma Taylor, and Marco Crisari. All 3 of them came along to separate events (ULCAN, Sheffield Norton, and UEL respectively) to offer their input during the assignment critiques, and in Emma and Marco's case, also gave portfolio assessments too. I should point out that I get paid to do this tour, and these guys don't, so extra special thanks there.
  • Thanks, rather obviously, to all the lecturers and academic support staff who've helped us out and sorted things out at their end as we've gone along. We've had a great time, and there are already mutterings about another tour next year.
  • And last, but not least, enormous thanks to all the students who I've been ranting at for 2 months now. I hope you've enjoyed it, and if you haven't I hope you've learnt something, although ideally you've managed both. Extra praise goes out to all those who took up the assignment, well done to all of you. To those of you who took the assignment brief and then never came back - shame!
That's it for this year. Stay tuned here for a little while at least, as I've got a few things planned before the blog goes to sleep for a bit.

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Post-Roadshow Report Card - Nottingham Trent University

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James in action at Nottingham Trent - fatherhood hasn't changed him at all.

Lurking at my folks' at the moment after a day at Nottingham Trent, here's how it all went:
  • Student Turnout - 6/10. Not loads of people, admittedly, though a good turnout for the flash demo in the afternoon.
  • Number of questions asked - 8/10. Brilliant, lots of incisive, well thought out questions, both after the talk, and after the flash demo.
  • Quality of tea and cakes - 7/10. Huge thanks to Hugh for pampering us all day long with caffeine based drinks.
  • Tom's ability to find the toilet - 3/10. This is getting to be an embarassing habit! Mind you, I defy anyone to find their way round the NTU campus without a map or GPS system, it's a bloody maze!
  • Number of extra Nikon personnel who were lurking in the background, and then left to go off and fly in helicopters - 2/2. Lucky sods. They claim there won't be space in the choppers for them, and that it's only for the UK press launch of the D3s, but I think they were having me on.
  • Ability to Handle the assignment - 7/10. Pretty good attempts - but you'll never get £800 from ID magazine (more's the pity!)
  • Percentage of students who now know loads more about the inner working of their Nikons, and how to make pretty pictures with flash - 87%. Just couldn't find a way of expressing that as a mark out of 10!
And you'll be glad to hear that "Mini-Zierold" who joined the team back in October, actually has a name, and it's Jemima. Much better than "mini-Zierold" in my opinion!

Derby tomorrow, then, finally, that's it. For now.
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Post-Roadshow Report Card - TVU Ealing

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TVU, note cool projector in ceiling.

Spent the day at TVU Ealing yesterday, but felt slightly fuzzy round the edges after the lengthy day at UCLAN.
  • Student turnout - 4/10. Oh dear. Where were you all? We heard that there'd been a field trip to Berlin the week before, but surely it doesn't take 3 days to recover from a hangover? All those who did make it are hereby entitled to take a comedy size frying pan and bang it over the heads of those who didn't.
  • Number of questions asked - 1/10. I'm not even sure there were any, although there were a few in the flash demo.
  • Quality of tea and cakes - 8/10. Big shouts out to Matt and Tony for this, as we were kept continually fed and watered all day long.
  • Tom's ability to find his way round the building - 0/10. When looking for the loo, don't ask a caretaker who started working there that morning. He won't be much help, and may even send you on a wild goose chase all over the building.
  • Ability to handle the assignment - 7/10. Pretty good stuff, with very thorough business/invoicing stuff as well. Sadly only 5 (yes, 5) people actually handed stuff in. See student turnout above for suggestions.
  • Cool AV equipment - 10/10. Press button, projector slides out from ceiling, and back up, and down and up. I could have played with it all day. If only the corner of the room I was lecturing in didn't smell of drains I'd be on to a winner.
  • Number of students who happen to live round the corner from me, and thereby get a lift home - 1/1. This sort of thing tends to only happen at colleges in London!
Right, I've got a massive pile of work in front of me, having been out of the office for a week. None of it is particularly appealing, and mostly involves very boring admin. Am shooting all weekend, and then it's the last 2 venues, Nottingham and Derby next week.
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Post-Roadshow Report Card - UCLAN

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UCLAN, taken as always by Duncan, who can now add Valet parking to his long list of job titles.

Apologies for taking almost 48 hours to post this, but it took quite a while to get back from Preston, the M6 wasn't kind to me, nor was the bottom end of the A40, and since I had to be up bright and early to go to TVU yesterday, this is the first chance I've got. So here's what we thought:
  • Student Turnout - 8/10. Lots of folk, and a record breaking number for the brief in the afternoon.
  • Number of questions asked - 4/10. Hardly any again, I really must be telling everyone all they need to know.
  • Quality of tea and cakes - 6/10. Nice enough, but there seemed to be no time to enjoy it, due to:
  • Parking facilities at UCLAN/Preston in general - 0/10. Moving the cars twice in a day, then having to go off and find them is a little annoying. Particularly when the cars are full of enough stuff to fill 100 goodie bags, camera demo gear, my camera gear, pop-up stands and so on. This gear is heavy, and takes a while to shift. It's also why Duncan ended up doing some valet parking!
  • Ability to handle the assignment - 6/10. Some good stuff, often let down by the usual technical bits. I'd strongly suggest you all go and read up about licensing and usage however - I nearly lost my rag with the sheer number of people who filled in the invoice wrong.
  • Number of Students from my year at college who lecture at UCLAN - 1/1. Sadly Irene wasn't there on Tuesday, as she was in hospital having her knee mended.
Thanks go to Simon Leach, who took time out from his work as a photographer, and his role as President of the AoP to help with critiquing the assignment shots. Above all though, I was very impressed with how many people attempted the assignment, it's very encouraging indeed, as we know from long experience that it's not always the case.....

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Post-Roadshow Report Card - Newcastle College

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Talking to the crowd at Newcastle, in front of a spooky poltergeist-like screen. Altogether now: "they're heeeeere!" Taken by Duncan, provider of drinks, snapper of photos, and as of 8am this morning, unintentional explorer of Newcastle when the satnav threw him a loop.

Just got back from a cracking day at Newcastle College, although rather knackered from giving the talk twice, and still a little emotionally fragile after finishing my Iain Banks book on the train - The Steep Approach to Garbadale has a nasty twist in it's tail folks, but is well worth reading. Anyway, on with the report card:
  • Student Turnout - 9/10. A full house, augmented by the fact that I was asked to give the talk all over again to a 2nd set of folk in the afternoon.
  • Number of Questions asked - 8/10. Very impressive, lots of questions, and pretty good ones too.
  • Quality of tea and cakes - 11/10. This one goes all the way to 11 folks, straight out of Spinal Tap. A very enjoyable dinner the night before with Graham, Tea and Coffee in Staff mugs, and a cracking lunch in the Hospitality Suite. Shame we didn't have time for a massage at the same venue, as Dave was dying to have a manicure.
  • Ability to handle the assignment - 8/10. Undoubtedly some of the best images we've seen, lots of very high production values around (models and Bentley's anyone - care to top that?) only let down by some slightly sloppy business stuff.
  • Obsession with fake facial hair - 9/10. What is it about Newcastle and stick on Moustaches/Beards? Last year we had some, with a kind of ulterior motive/trying to cheat on the brief idea, and this year a whole set of big taches stuck on passers-by. 2 years in a row counts as a fetish in my book.
  • Likelihood of Dave, Duncan, Myself and Graham invading China in the near future - 6/10. It would be inadvisable, and is in fact the 2nd rule of war, but it still seemed like a good idea at about 11.45 last night.
Right, off to bed, a last minute Cover shoot has appeared for tomorrow, then off for a weekend in the Lake District, which I'll roll neatly into next week's talk at UCL. See you then.
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Post-Roadshow Report Card - Sheffield Hallam

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Another superb shot by Duncan. I remained sitting like that until my knees seized up, and I almost had to be carried out.

We spent the day at Sheffield Hallam yesterday, in a very impressive building right in the city centre. I was hoping to be visiting the same campus as my brother, who studied fine art there back in the late 90's, but apparently it's now scheduled for demolition, although he claims he had nothing to do with it.
  • Student turnout - 7/10. Pretty good, although there seemed to be a large discrepancy between the hordes of people who had allegedly signed up, and the actual turnout on the day. I'll leave it to David to have words.
  • Number of questions asked - 4/10. Not many, but that appears to be the norm. Maybe it's because I tell all the students everything they could possibly want to know about photography in one go that there's no need to ask questions. Maybe.
  • Quality of tea and cakes - 0/10. What tea and cakes?
  • Quality of extremely posh restaurant food at the "Hallam View" - 10/10. Ye Gods those Monkfish fishcakes were tops. Felt like royalty, and slightly underdressed whilst sitting in the exclusive "staff and visitors only" restaurant.
  • Ability to handle the assignment - 7/10. Above average, with a few outstanding attempts, and a few that needed a lot more polish. What we saw a lot of Hallam though, was very good ideas, even if they were hard pressed for time. Highly commendable.
  • Embarrassment caused by running up and down 4 flights of stairs when the loos were out of order - 8/10. Not what you need when you've been in front of an audience for a couple of hours.
  • Number of people who feature in the presentation who I bumped into in the corridor - 1/1. As with UEL, you know who you are!
Just Newcastle next week, and nothing but a massive pile of admin and other such crap on my desk to deal with at the moment. What joy. Read more on "Post-Roadshow Report Card - Sheffield Hallam"!

Post Roadshow report Card - Sheffield Norton College

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View from the back of the crowded room at Sheffield Norton, artfully taken by Duncan of Calumet Fame, cheers Duncan.

Sheffield Norton today, after one of those weird things that people apparently call "holidays". First one I've had this year, and very nice it was too, I recommend them to everyone, and maybe I should have had one a little earlier!
  • Student Turnout - 9/10. Maybe not the highest overall numbers, but the sheer fact that extra chairs had to be laid out impressed us immensely.
  • Number of questions asked - 8/10. As always, it's a hardcore of people, but their commitment and interest is well-noted.
  • Quality of Tea and Cakes - 3/10. Well, what can we say, we went and had lunch in the Tennis centre next door. It were lovely, mind you, but dear me, what about ginger cake, carrot cake, fairy cakes, tea, espressos? These are things that matter people!
  • Number of people who during the flash demo started to think they might have bought into the wrong system - 7/10.
  • Ability to handle the assignment - 7/10. Good attempts on a photographic level, and very good paperwork to match. A bit more attention to detail on the editorial side and you'd all be perfect.
  • Willingness to have portfolios critiqued - 8/10. Lots of very keen people for Emma to cast her skillful eye over, and in some cases some very impressive work - yes, this means you, Mr Carling Lager boy!
Off to Hallam tomorrow, with an early start (but at least that means an early finish). Extra thanks today to Emma from Vue Photographer's Agents who came along to help with both critiquing the assignment and lots of portfolios.
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Post-Roadshow Report Card - University Of West England

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University of West England. I should have taken a 2nd shot during the assignment critique for comparison!


Bristol yesterday, and I foolishly eschewed the offer of a hotel, as I knew I was shooting on Wednesday. That meant a very early start to get there by 8am, although I stopped for a little nap on the M4.
  • Student Turnout - 7/10. Pretty good numbers, although see below for more info.
  • Number of Questions asked - 5/10. Not many, but fairly good ones, very business minded.
  • Quality of Tea and Cakes - 9/10. A steady stream of hot black coffee provided by Frank, and a truly delightful stuffed mushroom for lunch.
  • Overall Cleanliness of College - 10/10. Very clean indeed - hand wash stations every 2 yards, antiseptic wipes at the door, instructions on how to wash my hands in the gents. It all conspired to make me feel very dirty, which I probably am!
  • Ability to handle the assignment - 7/10. A decent attempt, which just needed a bit of polish to make it really stand out. The only problem was.....
  • Number of people who actually attempted the assignment - 1/10. It's a new record folks, just 4 people attempted the assignment. It means I got to leave early, but it doesn't really instil me with confidence that the students at UWE are displaying the initiative, drive and ambition that's required to be successful self-employed people. To those that did it, Jamie, Luke, Matt and Khalil - I salute you, you are hereby entitled to take the piss out of your peers for at least the next week.
I'm now off for a long overdue weekend away (the first this year), and then it's 2 Sheffield dates next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Before I go however, I need to introduce a new member of the Roadshow team - James Zierold, who is in charge of all the "Southern" dates on the tour, has just become a father for the first time to a healthy baby girl, who for now we'll call "mini-Zierold". Congratulations to the whole Zierold family from everyone here at the roadshow, which is basically me, and David from Nikon!

Finally, thanks to Bob and Ed from the Bristol branch of Calumet for stepping in at very short notice and taking James' place yesterday, superb job fellas. Read more on "Post-Roadshow Report Card - University Of West England"!