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Category: Part 3

A3: Formative feedback (new tutor)

I’m pleased that my new tutor has quickly helped me to catch up with the missing feedback on A2 and A3 from my previous tutor. It has helped to put the irksome episode behind me and rekindle enthusiasm for this final module.

Again, very positive feedback on my research and report for this assignment. Here, I focus on additional suggestions that help develop my practice:

  • Suggestion to outline the future of the research report and blog (particulary with regard to the Drifting project): after I graduate and time is freed up, I plan to continue blogging but to a broader audience – in this context, I plan to address aspects of the report. One particular area I think warrants investigation is the use of photography competitions as a potentially dubious business model for some blogs. With regards to the Drifting project, there are lessons in the ongoing promotion of the work through blogging and guest blogging and the concept of using the blog as a hub at the centre of social media activities (whatever their value beyond that to the tech giants’ data collection and sales). This is in addition to the audience engagement I am already encouraging through the exhibition guest book on the blog and the invitation to viewers to tell their own stories of life along the canal.
  • Some suggestions based on the learning outcomes: a) update padlet to include elements of self-reflection, eg example of a media interview (practice-based research using media pack) b) padlet resources re competition examples (mentioned in A2).
  • Consider video presentation for eventual submission submission (3-5 mins), building on A2. Yes – I’ve been thinking about this; the use of screen casting software has opened up new possibilities for presentation of the digital. Also added to padlet as ‘resource’.
  • Note potential connection to A4 to elements of blogging research, eg interactive communication model and how projects is essentially and audience engagement project. Suggested resources provided for further research (Richin’s book and ‘four corners’ project).
  • Consider / give examples of blogs advising on creation of exhibitions (padlet resource).
  • Looking forward to A4, consider how draft blog post can be shaped into promotional tool (eg pdf or interactive website). Info needs to be chunked up to make it accessible to a reader coming cold. Needn’t be just one document. Keep in mind idea of ‘registers’ (different voices for different purposes). Approach to be discussed in catch-up call.
  • A number of potential resources provided for review / consideration of usefulness in context of my work. Followed up elsewhere on blog / padlet.

Lots of material for me to work through and consider to tighten up direction and outcome for A4. My tutor’s feedback is much appreciated!

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A3: Assignment | tutor submission

Introduction

This assignment required research on an aspect of the photography industry, informed by primary research (i.e. direct contact with practitioners) as well as other resources. The aims are to:

  • Gain an in-depth knowledge of a particular complementary role and/or the roles and responsibilities of a particular type of photographer.
  • Understand how the role fits into the broader economy and/or arts community.
  • Understand the duties and responsibilities of a particular role, including any conflicts of interest there may be with other professionals.
  • Continue to build your professional network.

The research

I choose to research the photography blog by video interviewing 3 bloggers and exchanging emails with a fourth (who was a no show for the video interview), as well as researching academic and popular materials. My research materials will compiled and annotated in Zotero and accompanied a few posts in the ‘research section’ for this assignment – https://syp.fitzgibbonphotography.com/category/part-3/p3-research/. I’ve added a Zotero bibliography to this to complement the references included in the article.

My self-assessment of the work, prior to tutor submission is here.

The assignment

A pdf of my article is attached …

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A3: research bibliography

I’ve included references in my A3 research document, but not a lengthy bibliography for what is a short article. For reference, I’ve included a condensed bibliography here (extracted from Zotero).

1000 Words (s.d.) At: https://www.1000wordsmag.com/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Advertising Standards Authority, Committee of Advertising Practice (s.d.) New Platforms, Same Protections. At: https://www.asa.org.uk/news/blog-new-platforms-same-protections.html (Accessed 16/06/2021).Ambrozy, L. et al. (2011) Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009. Cambridge, UNITED STATES: MIT Press. At: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ucreative-ebooks/detail.action?docID=3339222 (Accessed 16/06/2021).Amy Stein | Photography | Blog (s.d.) At: http://amysteinphoto.blogspot.com/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Blog | Martin Parr (s.d.) At: https://www.martinparr.com/blog/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Blog — Photograd (s.d.) At: https://www.photograd.co.uk/blog (Accessed 16/06/2021).Broughton, J. (2021) Janet Broughton (definitelydreaming.com) blogger interviewer. [Zoom] 12/07/2021 At: https://youtu.be/JN6f6usyKUABroughton, J. (s.d.) Definitely Dreaming. At: https://definitelydreaming.com/ (Accessed 12/07/2021).Cambridge in Colour (s.d.) At: https://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials.htm (Accessed 16/06/2021).carole evans (s.d.) At: https://www.caroleevans.co.uk/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Caruana, N. and Fox, A. (2012) Behind the Image: Research in Photography. Huntingdon, GBR, SWITZERLAND: Bloomsbury Publishing. At: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ucreative-ebooks/detail.action?docID=4636413(Accessed 16/06/2021).Cohen, K. R. (2005) ‘What does the photoblog want?’ In: Media, Culture & Society 27 (6) pp.883–901.Crestodina, A. (2014) How often should I blog? Blogging frequency and content strategy. At: https://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/how-often-should-blog/ (Accessed 28/07/2021).Eira, A. (2020) Number of Tumblr Blogs in 2021/2022: User Demographics, Growth, and Revenue. At: https://financesonline.com/number-of-tumblr-blogs/ (Accessed 29/07/2021).Ellyn Kail (2020) 9 Artist and Photographer website builders you should know. At: https://www.featureshoot.com/2020/11/9-artist-and-photographer-website-builders-you-should-know/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Farace, J. (2014) ‘Photographing the world around us: fine art photography websites’ In: Shutterbug 43 (5) 03/2014 p.26+.Feature Shoot (s.d.) At: https://www.featureshoot.com/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Flickr Turns 10: The Photo-Sharing Site’s Rise, Fall and Revival | Time (s.d.) At: https://time.com/6855/flickr-turns-10-the-rise-fall-and-revival-of-a-photo-sharing-community/ (Accessed 27/07/2021).Flickr Turns 10: The Rise, Fall and Revival of a Photo-Sharing Community (s.d.) At: https://time.com/6855/flickr-turns-10-the-rise-fall-and-revival-of-a-photo-sharing-community/ (Accessed 27/07/2021).Format Team (2021) 23 Photography Blogs To Bookmark Right Now. At: https://www.format.com/magazine/resources/photography/photography-blogs (Accessed 16/06/2021).Garden, M. (2012) ‘Defining blog: A fool’s errand or a necessary undertaking’ In: Journalism 13 (4) pp.483–499.Gunelius, S. (2018) Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Business. Irvine: Entrepreneur Press.Hotshoe – International photography magazine (s.d.) At: http://hotshoemagazine.com/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).How Many Blogs Are There? (And 141 Other Blogging Stats) (2021) At: https://growthbadger.com/blog-stats/ (Accessed 18/06/2021).Humans of New York (s.d.) At: https://www.humansofnewyork.com/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Internet Live Stats – Internet Usage & Social Media Statistics (s.d.) At: https://www.internetlivestats.com/ (Accessed 18/06/2021).Johnny Mobasher (2021) Jonny Mobasher (streetphotography.com). 10/07/2021Merrill, B. (s.d.) Blogging Masterclass: How To Build A Successful Blog In 2021. [Online training course Udemy [online]]. At: https://www.udemy.com (Accessed 15/06/2021).Miller, J. A. (2021) ‘Opinion | Social media addiction: how social media companies function like casinos’ In: UWIRE Text10/02/2021 p.1.Momus (2003) Photoblogging. At: http://imomus.com/photoblogging.html (Accessed 13/07/2021).Nick G. (2019) 29 Shocking Blogging Statistics. Is Blogging Dead in 2021?. At: https://techjury.net/blog/blogging-statistics/ (Accessed 18/06/2021).O’Dell, J. (2013) Blogging for Photographers: Explore Your Creativity and Build Your Audience. Abingdon, UNITED KINGDOM: Taylor & Francis Group. At: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ucreative-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1659194 (Accessed 16/06/2021).best-of, A. V. et al. (2021) Stats & insights from the websites of the world’s top 100+ photographers. At: https://www.foregroundweb.com/photography-website-statistics/ (Accessed 18/06/2021).Ofcom (2020) UK’s internet use surges to record levels. At: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/media-releases/2020/uk-internet-use-surges (Accessed 29/07/2021).On Landscape (s.d.) At: https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Photograd (s.d.) At: https://www.photograd.co.uk/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Robin Whalley (2021) Robin Whalley, blogging interview. [Zoom] 06/07/2021 At: https://youtu.be/cpquUgXUb6MRobin Whalley (s.d.) Lenscraft. At: https://lenscraft.co.uk/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Samur, A. (2018) The History of Social Media: 29+ Key Moments. At: https://blog.hootsuite.com/history-social-media/(Accessed 29/07/2021).Sandra Roussy (2018) 47 Best Photography Blogs in the World. At: https://www.photoblog.com/learn/best-photography-blogs/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Shutter Hub (s.d.) At: https://shutterhub.org.uk/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Stein, A. (2011) Amy Stein | Photography. At: http://amysteinphoto.blogspot.com/2011/07/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love.html (Accessed 16/06/2021).Steve McCurry | Photographer (s.d.) At: https://stevemccurry.com/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Street Photography (s.d.) At: https://streetphotography.com/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Take a Look Back at Instagram’s First Posts, Six Years Ago (s.d.) At: https://time.com/4408374/instagram-anniversary/(Accessed 27/07/2021).The Bigger Picture | Smithsonian Institution Archives (s.d.) At: https://siarchives.si.edu/blog (Accessed 16/06/2021).The Photo Argus (s.d.) At: https://www.thephotoargus.com/inspiration/ (Accessed 16/06/2021).Wang, H. (2020) 121 Blogging Statistics for 2020. At: https://getcodeless.com/blogging-statistics/ (Accessed 18/06/2021).

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A3: industry research | self-assessment

I’ve made this evaluation against the ‘assessment criteria’, rather than the ‘learning outcomes’ documented in the course material. I suppose the course material will eventually be updated to reflect the more recently introduced assessment criteria. In the meantime, taking this approach will avoid a remapping exercise when it comes to assessment submission.

For this assignment, I decided to complete industry research on the photography blogger, rather than seek work experience (for which I may be a little long in the tooth). I interviewed 3 bloggers by video and exchanged emails with a fourth – details are in the written assignment.

Creativity 20%
Make creative decisions in the resolving of a body of work that employs appropriate media and techniques articulating a personal creative voice.

In the context of Covid-19, online space has become more important and physical space at a premium with a backlog of artists waiting to show work. I decided to research the role of the blog in the photography industry to help develop my own practice in disseminating work online and finding an audience for it. Part of resolving my body of work involves creating a micro-site and linking to that through my personal blog.

I approach bloggers for interview, looking for individuals that covered some of the ‘types’ of blog that I’d identified in my research – this allowed me to understand different perspectives. The assignment requirement was to just interview one person.

Presentation and Outcomes 40%
Articulate and synthesise ideas and research in the presentation of a body of work to an audience.

This research into blogging in the photographic industry has helped support the presentation of my own work online. On the back of it, I plan to make additional use of blog posts to help explain and communicate my work. In particular the idea of using ‘channels’ to bring viewers to the work.

Professional context 20%
Independent dissemination of a personal creative voice. Articulate independent judgements and identify opportunities for professional and or personal development.

During the research process, I communicated and conducted interviews with three professional bloggers (unfortunately the 4th blogger was a no show on a couple of occasions). This allowed me to refine my online presentation technology set up to incorporate a condenser mic and headphones to cut down background noise, as well as gain experience of video interviewing.

In writing the article, there was the opportunity to further develop an academic voice and reflect on how that might be different from the voice of blogging – a voice that recognises most readers will skim blog posts. I intend to write a ‘blog’ version of the article.

Knowledge 20%
Demonstrate comprehensive critical knowledge, understanding and reflection of relevant techniques and theoretical context(s) emerging from your outcomes

Good use of academic research incorporated with popular materials in preparing the article. I continue to make use of the Zotero platform for collecting research materials, annotating them, and incorporating citations into written work.

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Blogger interviews – Johnny Mobasher / Janet Broughton

This is a brief note to record that further blogger interviews took place, again using Zoom but with the improvements to my set-up identified during the first interview.

Johnny Mobasher – www.streetphotography.com was interviewed on 10 July and Janet Broughton of www.definitelydreaming.com on 12 July. I have transcribed the interview notes and filed them in my Zotero folder with other resources to prepare the written paper on photography blogging.

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Robin Whalley – blogger interview 6.7.21 / Zoom interviewing

It was a pleasure to interview Robin Whalley, who runs the blogs ‘thelightweightphotographer’ and ‘lenscraft’. The interview was conducted and recorded over Zoom. I’ve written up notes and placed them in my Zotero folder for reference when it comes to writing the 2000 word essay for the assignment. Here, I make a few observations on process / things to consider for upcoming interviews

  1. I used my free zoom account and was slightly concerned that it would not allow enough time / feel awkward having to ask RW to call back in. However, despite a free-ranging interview, 30 minutes was more than sufficient (with the 40 minute limit).
  2. I asked RW permission to record the interview to help with my note taking (not for it to be published) – this is useful for my records and I’ve uploaded to YouTube as a private video and linked in Zotero.
  3. Auto-transcribe of the video was problematic, even with the free/demo offerings of major players. I think this is down to the quality of the sound (my voice in particular – more on that below) and the transcription was of UK regional accents. However, the transcription I downloaded from ‘otter’ was useful as very rough notes that allowed me to then write up key points for later use in the essay.
  4. Zoom set up – for convenience I’d just used the webcam that sits on my monitor for sound. It might work for contributing to group discussions etc but the sound quality was poor for recording an interview. After the interview, I’ve set up my condenser mic for Zoom calls, adjusted Zoom’s advanced audio settings for background noise and echo and routed the output sound to headphones so that is not also creating echo in the room. I’ve tested this set up and the sound quality is significantly improved.

Next, I need to send reminders to the others who agree to be interviewed, as they’ve not come back with convenient times / dates. I’m going to aim for next week.

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Blogger interview requests

I’ve spent most of the day with my nose against the screen researching photography blogs. Interestingly, I found a PhD dissertation on the UCA library from 2003, which already seems hopelessly out of date given the pace of change in the digital domain! Part of the research was to unpick the various types of photography blogs now online and select a few to interview. The selection was based on authors who I have a chance of making a genuine connection with, who cover a range of blog types. I’ve initially emailed three, bloggers for the research, with an email tailored specifically to each of them in the hope of increasing my chances of a response – it is not a question of ‘just sending a quick email’!

The three I’ve approached are: Robin Whalley (a landscape photographer, who also sells lessons, books and products through his blog); Carole Evans (an artist and academic, who shares and promotes her own work through her blog); and streetphotography.com (a longstanding community based blog that appears to be driven more by a passion for the subject rather than any attempt at financial reward).

I’ve asked all for telephone or video interviews in the first place, as I would like some interaction rather than using email correspondence. I’ll revisit next week in the hope of progress, or the need to cast my net again.

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The Mechanics of the Blog

Udemy screen shot

For part three of the course, as industry research, I will examine the photography blog. I’ve hosted my own WordPress blogs over a number of years for student learning logs and basic portfolio sites, but not analysed the blog as part of a business activity. To help with this I’ve taken a short Udemy Course, Blogging Masterclass: How To Build A Successful Blog In 2021 (Brad Merrill on Udemy; https://www.udemy.com/share/1022YoCEoecVhQR3w=/). It has helped in preparing to interview professional bloggers as part of my own research.

Some outline questions I will consider during interviews are built around areas covered in the course material:

  • Tell me about your blog
  • Why did you start your blog?
  • How did you deal with the technical aspects of setting up your website?
  • What is your approach to content creation? [sufficient new content, reader interest, types of content]
  • How do you approach promoting your blog? [eg social media, mailing lists, guest blogging]
  • How do you sustain your blog – what is the business idea behind it? [selling a service, providing news, advertising platform]
  • What one piece of advice would you give to anyone starting a blog?

I’ve generally kept the questions open to encourage a dialogue, with the exception of the final question. Seven questions feels like a manageable number to cover – I think requesting a 30 minute interview is possible, but much longer could be off-putting.

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Photographer website update

In addition to my www.leedsandliverpool.co.uk project website, I’ve developed a photographer website, www.fitzgibbonphotography.com. With over 50% (https://www.statista.com/statistics/277125/share-of-website-traffic-coming-from-mobile-devices/) of website traffic coming from mobile devices, having a mobile friendly site is important. I’d received a few warnings from the Google Search Consol that my site has some problems for mobile traffic (eg images too wide, text too small).

As part of my industry research, I’ve looked at a number of photographer websites and found that many are not mobile friendly – I would prefer visitors to look at my images on a larger screen and suspect others would too. On the back of this, I spent half a day updating my website to ensure that it is mobile friendly. I use WordPress.org with a Photocrati theme. This involved adjusting display widths and editing content to ensure text does not overwhelm images on smaller devices. It also required configuring of the menu for mobile devices and the Nextgen gallery displays to ensure they fit well on mobile devices.

The successful changes also give me more confidence when submitting work for bursaries or competitions that even if the submission is viewed on a mobile device, my website will display well.

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