Some final reflections on Positions and Practice and the reactions of classmates to marks and the future

I have to say that photography, while it has technical aspects which can be evaluated relatively objectively, is in the end an artistic endeavour and as such is subject to people liking or not liking your art, but they really have no right to judge whether it is correct as an artistic work. Yes this course is supposed to push and challenge us to explore beyond the current bounds of our comfort zones and we should venture forth into uncharted territories if only to discover those are not places we would like to work in the future.

Those of you who are more established professionals are in something of a more difficult situation it seems to me, because you have in part made a statement as to who you are and what your practice is about and it represents your current livelihood. If that is working for you I don’t think you should be changing on the basis of the first modules grades or comments. I do think what has been evaluated is worth considering how it relates to your current practice and whether there may be things that could enhance that practice. I think the MA is an opportunity to explore different directions and alternate perspectives as a way of confirming past decisions about your current practice or informing paths to expand, enhance or redirect your practice. For those of us with a cleaner slate and no reliance on current practice for income, it is wee bit easier I think because we only have the future to concern ourselves with for the most part.

I firmly believe what we get out of this course is in our hands. The coursework is only the barest minimum of what is required to earn the degree. Everything else you put in and take away is entirely up to you and should be directed at satisfying what you hope to achieve from the course. Except for certain genres of photography where the briefs are completely restrictive, we otherwise have the latitude to do whatever we please and create something with which we are satisfied. If others happen to like it, it is a bonus and if then they want to buy it, jackpot. But I doubt most of you are doing this to just hit the jackpot and suspect that if you produced something that was commercially a success but in your mind a poor piece of work that did not express you as an artist, you wouldn’t be very satisfied. So I have to believe if this is a credible program the tutors ultimately want each of us to be certain who we are as practitioners and confident about what we do. In these early stages they will poke and prod, challenge our assumptions, make us doubt ourselves as steps on the road to self discovery and establishment of certainty in our own minds of who we are and what we want to do. So explore, test your boundaries, but when you know yourself and are 100% committed, stand up and fight for those convictions as artists.

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