Wendy McMurdo A typical OCA study visit
The OCA Photography Scotland Group met for the first time on the last Saturday of April 2015.
Since then, we have met for three OCASA-funded sessions, all hosted by Street Level Photoworks in central Glasgow. All our session (11-3) have started with a participatory Pecha Kucha style presentation. This is a fun way to present our work in a relaxed way. Each participant has the chance to talk about their ongoing projects within a time-frame of 20 seconds per image on a selection of 20 images, so everybody
gets the same amount of time per presentation. This presentation is followed by group discussion on each of the ‘work in progress’ presentations. These discussions are in depth and constructed to allow each student the tools with which to develop and strengthen their practice.
Running parallel to the study days are a complimentary series of study visits, either with a photography or fine art focus. These gallery visits provide further opportunities to strengthen the OCA Photography Scotland group and extend the dialogue around contemporary practice. Blogs of these from group participants are, e.g.:
- Study Visit – Here Comes Everybody
- Study Visit – Thomas Demand ‘The
- Thomas Demand’s The Dailies (visit)
Many of us tend to meet at these and continue the discussions. Also, the facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/oca.photo.scot/) is active and supportive. E.g., like so:
Jeni Reid Glasgow City Centre. No 2 Bus.
Last weekend I attended a study day at Streetlevel Gallery in Glasgow, along with other Scottish OCA students and Tutor Wendy McMurdo. It was the first time I had managed to attend one of these ev…
Gesa Helms 18 September 2015 · Glasgow: I have – I think – finalised the slideshow for the I spy / colour relationships project and uploaded it to vimeo. Thanks for your feedback on it last Saturday and good to join you and the excellent resource that this group is.
Neil Gallacher 19 October 2015: I remember at the last study day we discussed themes and Wendy mentioned fairy tales. I ended up talking about a chap who took the Grimm fairy tales and produced a series of incredible images. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember his name – I found it though. Here is the link to his images. Enjoy!
So, aside from these online conversations, what has been the purpose and reasoning behind trying to establish a regional study group over the past year?
Our original application made a number of arguments for a funding support on the basis of how
studying in isolation is difficult and at times depressing. The idea behind these events is to offer face to face interaction between students on a regular basis; where we can discuss and debate, where we can motivate each other and offer all manner of support possible while studying at long distance. It also provides opportunities for improving our work, learn something new together (Workshop), and create a continuous flow of ideas and more importantly building the self-esteem and confidence needed to develop our practice further.
I am about to write the short report on the group’s activity and seeing that I only joined late, I wondered if you could send me (as pm, or as email to my oca address… student no is 492645) a brief note or example of
- some learning that was facilitated through the study group;
- other benefits of the group
- possibly future developments?
If you have links to blog posts on a study day or photos, please send them along.
Duncan Astbury Impossible Poloroid developing
The responses I received covered a range of reasons and thoughts on the usefulness of the past year’s meetings, such as:
Main benefit for me was in thinking about how I could shape my final portfolio and make it more coherent. As everyone is at a different stage they will each get different benefits. And it builds a network of contacts for mutual support and interaction, a big help with distance learning which can otherwise be very isolating.
1 – The opportunity to meet other students in a gallery environment and to begin to feel ‘at home’ there.
2 – Seeing what OCA students from Level 1 to Level 3 are producing and to talk to them about their creative process.
3 – Learning how to present photographs to a group. This was my first experience of presenting my work to a group and it taught me how to begin to choose cohesive images and the technicalities of sending files for presentation.
4 – Getting feedback. Very different from showing photographs to well meaning friends and family! The group are kind but direct and I suspect that this will become increasingly useful as I progress. It was good to get some positive feedback about images that I like but felt were a bit obscure. I’m now encouraged to develop them further.
5 – Practical stuff – there’s a lot of practical information that I need to learn and it was really useful to be with Wendy and the other students, listening to them talk about book layout and photo presentation methods.
6 – Preparation and cohesiveness. I think this was the most important lesson I learned. Most of the images I make are reactive. I see something and then take a photograph with little or no planning beforehand. What I learned from listening to the conversation and in particular, Wendy’s advice to the students was that preparation is essential. Even if you are going into a new situation, it is possible to plan beforehand and think of that kind of images you might want to take. Think about making a set of cohesive images rather than a random collection of pictures. For instance – if you are planning to take photos of people at an event, think about framing and setting up the photos each in the same way in order to get a set of images which relate to each other thematically and creatively. I’m going to spend some time thinking about these things before I next head out with my camera.
Gesa I have benefitted greatly from the study group as I am new to the ‘art’ side of photography. Through interactions with fellow students I have gained knowledge and developed skills and an interest in other activities such as medium format film photography. We have had discussions that have been lively, humorous and very supportive. I find the study days rewarding and most enjoyable and believe that the energy and enthusiasm from the group helps with my motivation and determination to continue with my studies
And, when discussing this draft, we thought that while the document suggests an upside for students attending it doesn’t really suggest an upside for the OCA head office. I could suggest that attending students will self support so make less enquiries & support demands to head office & tutors. I think also better supported students in a network are less likely to drop out and so this should give the OCA improved revenues, and greater academic success as students are supported better to the completion of their studies; and possibly also how it feeds into OCASA’s role of facilitating that form of self-organisation and locality-based peer/tutor support to facilitate independence, peer-learning and retention.
Some more details from student blogs on the study days are, e.g., these:
- Regional Study Day (First) – ‘Pecha Kucha’
We have a fifth funded study day ahead of us on Saturday 6 February 2016, 11am-3.30pm at
Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, as well as a part-funded darkroom printing workshop at Streetlevel (date tbc).
As for the coming year, we would like to encourage others to join our growing group, organise further workshops, and plan student exhibitions to continue to develop this format with the fantastic tutor support provided by Wendy McMurdo.
This report is compiled from various notes from facebook posts, individual messages and blogs and the original application (in Times font) by several of us, with a mediating structure provided by Gesa Helms in
Many thanks to all those who provided material for this report and agreed for it to be used in a public report, to OCASA for their ability and interest in funding this series of study days, to Wendy for her enthusiasm and insight she so generously provides, and to each of the participants for making this group a great resource for current and future students.
If you are interested in getting involved and are based in Scotland or North of England (i.e. are able to travel to Glasgow), please get in contact via the FB group (details provided above).