Colin Pantall - Writing Masterclass

Colin Pantall, is one of our lecturers at university, who is also a writer and photographer.  Colin put on a workshop for us recently to help us write our statements for our source graduates submissions, to go along side our photography. The statement could only be 120 words. 

Within the workshops Colin covered a lot of and about different types of writing for different aspects that we could come across when progressing in the field of photography. Colin started of by suggesting that we do our research and look at the submissions from last year. Looking at how they had written about their work, who they were talking to and what areas of the work they had homed in on. This would also help differentiate us from the crowd by seeing what others had said in previous years. 

It was also suggested that we look into the judges from last year and this year if possible. Seeing what the previous year judges had chosen and what photography the current ones could be looking for. 

As a course we spoke openly with Colin about what we all found difficult about writing about photography, for each aspect one of us mentioned Colin came back with the best advice for each difficulty. I will be listing these worries and feedback here: 

  • Finding the right words, not wanting to come across too descriptive, being consistent - Don’t want to describe!
  • Knowing the specific way you want to articulate your thoughts without over reacting and stay on topic - Summarise, minimise work, lose detail. The work for source is not a dissertation or essay, its about being interesting and not necessarily about the knowledge. Making it eye catching and  connecting personally.
  • Keeping your audience hooked. Keeping your points interesting and detailed but brief. Being able to express why your work may be difficult of the importance of the project. Project the main themes across in less than 500 words -  The advice here was to keep the work sharp and concise so people wouldn’t get bored. By you being straight to the point it shows professionalism and the audience are more likely to finish reading. 
  • Get the point across in detailed form but not over doing it - Not rambling on and get the point.
  • Finding it hard to get across the individuals creative mind into words. And finding it hard using the correct words to sound professional - Look into other photographers writing and presentation of them self and their works to the public. 
  • Explaining and expanding on what you are trying to say. Making it make sense, when being read. Using technical language in the right way- The technical language may not be necessary, be simple, direct, meaningful and putting your story across. Over all be more emotional. 
  • Not sounding too big headed, or over confident - Better to be over confident, as a way of sounding like you know what you are doing and not second guessing yourself. Meaning you get others to believe in your work. 
  • Knowing good and correct vocabulary, being able to describe my whole concept concisely - This will depend on the message you are putting across and to who you are getting it across too. 
  • Trying to make my words engaging and develop my critical language - The engaging comes first in a statement and second is the critical such as in an essay. 
  • Trying to cover how passionate I am about this project - The passion needs to come across, it is vital. 

To think about writing the statement or any writing it was key Colin mentioned to answer these questions before writing anything as a starting point: 

  • Why are you writing? 
  • Who is your audience? What do you want to achieve with your writing? 
  • How can you interest people? 
  • Who? What? When? Where? Why? 

Multiple ways of how you can use writing in photography: 

  • Collage
  • Forward
  • Afterword
  • Expand
  • Tell Story
  • Combining image with text
  • Narrative Stories
  • Title
  • Captions
  • Chapters
  • Social Media
  • Adverts
  • Explain
  • Speech
  • Books
  • Personal Statement 
  • CV
  • Interview response
  • Presentation 
  • Paring giving emotion 
  • Expanding Concept
  • Composition
  • Articles 
  • Digital adding 

For my own statement the feed back Colin gave me was that it was poetic and linked to colour, mood and emotion of my work, chosen, but to home it in by using first person and add maybe a recent experience as an example. To clarify on the recent experience and to see if there were any other images that could be considered into the mix. 

The workshop spanned over 2 days and the second, allowed us to come back with the changes to our statement and bring it back to Colin for more feed back before our hand in. Colin’s feed back for the second session was that I had taken on pretty much everything he had said before apart from adding the experience, this was due to too many words. To which Colin suggested adding either when the experience of depression started for me or the history behind it / genetics of it. Other family members have also had it or have it so to make the connection with them and how they dealt with it. 

The end result for submission: 

“Ulysses” Rebecca Sheil

Based on my own recent experiences. “Ulysses” presents
an insight into how people are affected by depression. The photographs were a
way of portraying my emotions. Understanding why I was feeling how I was. My
depression did not just happen overnight. It developed as I gradually lost my
identity, turning into something that was not me. I felt as though there were
two sides to me, one side was broken suppressing the happy. The work was a
cathartic outlet and a huge help for me to communicate feelings that I felt I could
not talk about. The wider aim of this work is to help people realise they are
not alone. Creating awareness to the feelings many live with.

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