Reflective Report/Evaluation

To write my final reflection, I decided to take a look back to the letter I was asked to write to myself before starting my Photography course at Coventry University. Immediately I noticed how much I had grown up and how much knowledge and passion I have gained.
‘I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times… I just shoot at what interests me at that moment’ – Elliot Erwitt
I refer to this quote within my letter and I certainly still relate to it, however when writing about my ‘dream’ after the course ends I wrote ‘Your dream is to land with your own business, your own quirky shop would be perfect, and to focus on real life, people, animals, nature.’ I realised how this course, and specifically this module 352MC has changed my outlook and widened my perspective on my future within photography.
Hide Outs would not have been my final idea if I was to have done this module back in first year. I think I had a much more commercial outlook on photography. However, I think my main inspiration came from taking an interest in travelling and purchasing magazines such as Outdoors and National Geographic. Although I have always had a love for outdoor photography, I’d never look past the ‘pretty’ landscapes or close up portraiture, however since my interest in this genre of photography my passion for documentary grew immensely. This is how I got to my project Hide Outs. Not only did I know I wanted to photograph some form of outdoor society/activity but I also wanted a story behind it, I wanted to have a documentary aspect.
I chose bird watching due to my own recent interest in the hobby. I thought I’d enjoy and benefit from the process much more focusing on something I like myself as I’d not just be photographing but I’d also be learning new things about this beautiful interest of mine.
After having spoken to Peter Berrill, who helps run the Coventry and Warwickshire RSPB group, he was willing for me to tag along with the rest of his bird watchers and join them in their hides. Many people wondered why I didn’t ever photograph birds within my project, but I never had this intention. I knew I wanted to document them as people, rather than the activity, as such. It wasn’t until my second visit that I became so fascinated by the bird watchers dedication and life style, sitting in the hides hours on end and settling own with their coffee, waiting patiently. Although joining them a few times, I couldn’t imagine giving such a huge part of my life to bird watching which is why I chose to document the lives of Peter and his team.
Originally thinking my project would sway more towards the likes of Jon Tonks and his project ‘Empire’ where I was thinking to create outdoor portraits with different outdoor societies and activities, I decided against it because instead I wanted to focus more on documenting the bird watchers within their environment, rather than creating straight clear portraits.
Jason Vaughn certainly influenced me towards my project Hide Outs, he created a project solely on the outer interior of hides which had been hand built by hunters to be used to hunt deer to feed their family. I enjoyed the idea that the hides he photographed held special meaning to certain families which in a way, is where I got my inspiration to photograph inside of the hides to show the importance they held for the bird watchers.
My project may not be to everyone’s taste, and that’s understandable when photography is especially opinionated and creative. However I’d hope it would represent many interested in nature and the outdoors, I’d love to think people who hold a passion for wildlife and documentary photography would enjoy the images I created within this project.
I feel Hide Outs is a project to be proud of, and although I originally planned to contrast bird watching and shooting, I know that some point after this project I want to go back and add to it. I still want to keep in touch with the bird watchers and extend what I have already created, go deeper into their dedication and find out more about their love and passion.
Specifically since doing this project, I feel like I have a much better knowledge of where I want my career as a photographer to head, I have enjoyed this module the most within my three years at University and I feel like it was a final reassurance that confirmed my interest in outdoor, documentary photography.


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