Posts Tagged ‘ba(hons) photography’

Yes I have the official confirmation that I have passed my degree with a 2:1 result.

Whilst I am somewhat pleased with the 2:1, I am seriously disappointed with the lack of teaching and support offered by the Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD) where I studied.

With a 2:1 why would I be unhappy?

In September 2014 I started my 3rd and final year of my degree. For this privilege I shelled out a quite obscene £6000 to be ‘educated’ to degree level.

Things did however start rather positively. We had a new course leader who was simply appalled at how we had been treated in the first 2 years by the previous course leader. It had been a game to him with totally misleading information and demands of submissions being in a certain format, only to deny this when we all turned up with mountains of images. Coupled with his inability to remember what he had already lectured us about, thus repeat lectures were often stopped after 20 mins or so, it was pleasing to have this new blood.

This new found optimism was soon dashed as we found our course leader was still covering his old job too. His promises of trips and shoot opportunities simply evaporated along with his attendance at HSAD. He was simply sucked back to the other job/students which clearly demanded a higher level of input from him.

He did manage one tutorial with me, though I had to see him at his other workplace across town, to which I received an email outlining my work to date. I don’t blame the course leader for this atrocious teaching but do blame the HSAD Dean and her financially inept counterparts from the main building.

Now for £6k you’d be expecting some quality lecturing to take place to help students attain the best possible grades. Amazingly the HSAD feels that lectures are somewhat a grey area in year 3 so they deliver nothing. Nothing? I hear you say so I will repeat that we received not one lecture in the whole academic year. Oh no, no, no, you are expected to teach your craft to yourself via a mixture of academic reading and work related tutoring. This is simply a rip off and abuse of the students attending the course. The Dean is useless and simply denies there is anything wrong at the school either at educational level or the way in which students are treated. Many, including myself, have complained and they either blatantly deny that there is anything wrong or try and blame the student for the failings.

The HSAD is an all too typical publicly funded educational joke. If it was a private business it would have closed many years ago owing to students being able to choose from alternative businesses that provide what they should. It’s a bit like paying a travel agent, for a holiday, only to find you actually have to get there yourself, find accommodation, feed & water yourself, get yourself back, write a review and then receive a mark, from the travel agent, on how well you did. An utter farce.

One small glimmer of educational quality did exist within the CATS department though it was a small, a very small glimmer of educational hope. The assistance given to our dissertation consisted of 6 x half hour sessions all held before christmas. The head of CATS tried telling us that this level of interaction is more than any other institution he knows about. He, as the Dean, obviously thinks we are idiots who know nobody else at university. Some challenged this and the simple answer was too many students for a depleted staff reduced by financial constraints. I have a close friend who had an hour every week and could book additional tutorials if she required additional assistance. This shows the gulf and disparity between educational centres and why, in my opinion, places like HSAD should be closed.

We had several students leave over the 3 years, including those in the 3rd year, who were simply at a loss over the appalling education and support given. To throw things away with only months to go shows how demoralising this building can be.

So the key question is would I recommend the Hull School of Art and Design to any prospective student?

The simple answer is no. If you can travel or reside anywhere else in the UK, for the same degree, then go and do it there. I would have completed my 3rd year elsewhere had it not been for my family commitments. With the nearest Uni being at Leeds a daily commute of 120 miles and the time travelling negated this option for me.

Finally, would I do it all again?

I would but not at HSAD. I genuinely believe the degree holds some weight with certain customers and, at least in the 1st year, helped improve my skills. I would now save a sound financial pot to finance my 3 years elsewhere, where students are treated with respect and tutored, yes actual tutoring, accordingly.

With no help I got a 2:1 so with actual tutoring, lectures & learning assistance I’m in no doubt a 1st was easily achievable.

Quite frankly my comments could be far more detailed and condemning of a building which, in my and others, opinions shouldn’t exist. As for the lecturers there I just can’t find the words to express my disappointment though the Dean and her financial restrictions certainly contribute to my feelings about lecturers.

I’ll close these comments with an image, taken by me last year, outside the entrance of HSAD. The area always has students and lecturers stood smoking which looks so unappealing to anyone passing by. At the time litter was always strewn everywhere, for which lecturers were also responsible, and yet no bins for litter etc.

I placed the image on this blog and as people, from HSAD, actually read our blogs as part of a module, I like to think I was responsible for someone actually placing bins at the entrance. Sadly some muppets have no idea on how to use a bin so litter does, although reduced, remain. Add this to the dirty broken blinds in the office windows and it could almost be a scene from some post apocalyptic film as you approach the building.


Last Friday was the final hand in of my 3 years at HSAD, or it could have been Monday but hey ho the dates issued were a shambles again, I’d completed it all anyway so in it went on the Friday. Happy with my submission as I was not prepared to simply submit an online or images via USB version. I’ve always loved the physical image and this indeed gave me the opportunity to create a fully working portfolio for potential customers to view. I just hope the portfolio box comes back undamaged as they appear to be unceremoniously stored in a small room after being marked whilst awaiting for students to collect.

Sadly there has been no rest as I had wedding on Saturday. Down in Spalding the weather was atrocious for the whole day. Thankfully I always take some studio lighting with me that ensured all the formal images were professionally captured indoors. The venue, The Woodlands Hotel, were superb in allocating me a room to set up in and conduct the process. Amazingly the weather broke around 6pm, for a whole 20 minutes, which gave us just enough time to grab the brides bouquet being thrown. We also managed a few formals, before the drizzle started again, and managed to cover the main formals with the bride, groom and parents before the constant downpour returned.

The evening work was easy enough, being indoors, and I left after the first dance with many positive compliments about how we had overcome the weather. Whilst you don’t say it to the customer, my belief is that any professional photographer should be able to adapt and overcome all but the worst scenario involving the weather.

So back to the editing now as I’m working this weekend, two days next week and the following weekend so need to get the online galleries up to date.

One of my favourite images from the wedding follows below.  We actually took this in very light rain and I thought my fill flash might show it yet thankfully it hasn’t.


As part of my third year photography degree we are encouraged to publicly show our work. Whilst we are creating a final show of our images for the end of this academic year we have also been told, by our tutor, to show our work at the Ferens Open Exhibition in Hull.

This annual exhibition is, as stated, an open exhibition of art where anyone can enter. There is a small admin fee for accepting, processing and communication regarding your submissions, yet nothing drastic to the wallet. More information regarding entries, rules and regulations can be found via the official website at

There are several categories which can be entered and that provide a cash prize for winners. The two obvious categories for myself were the ‘Student Prize’ which carries a £100 prize for the chosen winner and the ‘Image inspired by the WW1 centenary celebrations’ which carries a £500 prize and is decided by public vote.

With the categories in mind my selection of images, to be submitted, was rather easy. Both images are eligible for the student prize with the second also eligible for the WW1 commemorative prize.

My first image is something already discussed further along this blog. This was an image which developed through the shoot culminating in the final and now much discussed image. This image says so much to so many people in so many different ways. It has been quite enlightening how an image can provoke responses and the thinking behind those responses. As such the image “Liberty” was my first submission.



My second submission is directly targeted to the WW1 Inspiration prize and also further down this blog. Since this first saw daylight online it has also generated a huge response about it’s emotions. I have also had a request from the British Legion if they may use it in advertising the poppy cause in future years, which I have granted permission.

The only difference to the image, compared to the original version, is the removal of the ‘Flanders Fields’ poem. There is a statement on the entry form about using copyrighted ‘©’ works on your images or indeed copying images. Though the poem appears un copyrighted and widely used and accepted as free usage I did not want to come unstuck over something so minor. I thus removed the poem from the image. This still left plenty of information to the rear with the war graves and silhouettes of soldiers thus no further changes were made.

Titled ‘Devestation’ I felt this not only covered the devastation created at the time, yet also the subsequent problems this so called ‘Great War’ created. My daughter was crying because, as an 8 year old, the comprehension that more people died in that war, than attend her school, deeply upset her and thus the devastation continues to this day.


Ferens 1

A quick exercise, for our new programme leader, in how we interperate the definition of ‘Edgelands’. This is the alleged area where the city meets nature either through development and expansion or the retreat and abandonment back to it’s original state. Six images required to show him how we think, approach and execute such a task.

An article in The Guardian stated: The zone goes by different names, few of them complimentary. Victor Hugo called it “bastard countryside”. The landscape theorist Alan Berger called it “drosscape”. The artist Philip Guston called it “crapola”. And the environmentalist Marion Shoard called it “edgeland”, which she defined as “the interfacial interzone between urban and rural”. The edgelands are the debatable space where city and countryside fray into one another. They comprise jittery, jumbled, broken ground: brownfield sites and utilities infrastructure, crackling substations and pallet depots, transit hubs and sewage farms, scrub forests and sluggish canals, allotments and retail parks, slackened regulatory frameworks and guerilla ecologies.

Now let’s get one thing straight from the off in that this is not my idea of fun photography. The whole urbex, abandoned buildings style of photography is a very niche area. Clambering over fences, entering derelict buildings or trespassing to get an image, inside or out, of some derelict structure is just not my thing. Tip toeing around fly tipping and domestic rubbish in many of these edgelands simply reminds you of how we feel about our world. Additional hazards such as asbestos, which all too many of these old buildings contain, or collapsing floors etc are a risk too far in collecting an image for me. We know these areas exist, we complain at the state of them yet allow them to remain for many years in some cases. There are however a seemingly unlimited supply of such buildings and areas of land within the local area for me to capture such an image from the outside.

I thought about documenting the decline of our local heritage, fishing, and what little remains of such a once thriving industry. A set of images showing docklands left to nature in calling home along with the newly sprawling renewables sector building its new structures nearby. Unfortunately with the time restriction and work commitments this would have taken too long.

So here we go with my interpretation of ‘edgelands’.

1. This image is simply a representation of what far too much of the City of Hull looks like. Dozens of old industrial and commercial buildings cleared for future redevelopment which either hasn’t yet happened or in many cases unlikely to happen in the current financial climate. Shot over the security fence this image details the foundations of ‘what was’, the unsightly domestic rubbish of ‘what is’ and then the onset of mother nature reclaiming in ‘what will be’.


2. An old abandoned school, not a five minute walk from the city centre, now being overrun by mother nature and a few less desirable members of society.


3. The road to nowhere where development simply stopped. A tarmac’d entry road, with markings, speed bump and path where nature has reclaimed the mound of rubble left blocking it.


4. Something a little different here. These are the remains of what was once the main dock gate gears at St. Andrews Quay in Hull. A huge steel gearing system, now rusted, yet still in situ owing to its formidable build quality now simply overrun by weeds, grass and brambles.


5. Where urban meets rural with a twist as here urban meets water. This image is of a small estuary, linked to the Humber, where many years ago small ships were launched to sea. The remains of a small sea going vessel peer from the silt and mud which slowly erode its carcass.


6. A boundary wall near to the city limits. Built to keep people in or out it would seem mother nature doesn’t share the same thoughts as the original creator so through and over she comes. With the wall partly collapsed to the rear the car park is being invaded, covered and colonised by the unchecked shrubbery. Brambles and vines climb over from above whilst mother nature is also coming around the wall and down the old path. The wall also has a slight bow to its shape owing to the pressure exerted by the ever expanding tree trunks of the rural side. If the wall does eventually collapse its colour and content will differ from what appears to be a dumped pile of builders rubble.


Before people decide that the image I have taken for this is a negative one please realise this image is only one, of potentially many, that sum up Hull to me. This image does not represent what I see of, believe in or love about Hull.

Hull is a city full of culture and heritage and whilst still struggling from economic forces beyond it’s control is one to be proud of. This is where my “Sums up” image becomes personal to me and why I chose it. Literally anywhere you walk, within the city centre, you will find the pavements covered in an assortment of cigarettes, chewing gum and other assorted litter. This is something that I have often thought sums up the minority of mindless idiots who will moan when they can’t have things their own way or be denied something which makes their lives better yet happy to just drop cigarette tabs or flavourless chewing gum to the floor. Individuals who will probably moan about the state of Hull yet contribute to the issue of litter on a regular basis. Sadly this is all too prevalent throughout the UK in general.

Where did I get my picture of this litter ? Right outside the HSAD main doors. As I approached HSAD this morning two young ladies in front of me were smoking and simply tossed their butts to the floor as they opened the outer door. As I left just before lunch there was a lecturer finishing his cigarette whom also simply discarded it to the floor. What better place could I take this image than somewhere that, some, people obviously have no respect for including students or tutors. I actually took a long look and just wondered what any potential student walking up the ramp would think will all the tab ends lining the wall. What worried me further was all the tutors including the Dean of HSAD walk in and out of the same doors every day. As the initial impression of the school it doesn’t say much about the attitude of what goes on inside. You may disagree with this but if you saw a B&B with an overgrown garden, dirty curtains & in need of painting would you be knocking on the door asking if there was room….no you wouldn’t.

Anyway here it is, my “Cig’ butts & chewy” masterpiece taken about 3 feet from the main doors of the HSAD building………horrendous.


Technicals 100mm, f/8, 1/80th and ISO 100