Photography in focus: an MA taster session
Photography in focus: an MA taster session
Read the transcript below for the video of the MA Photography taster session: 'Photography in focus: an MA taster session'.
Jesse Alexander: My name is Jesse. I'm the course leader for MA Photography and also for the BA Photography at Falmouth Flexible. And I've been with Falmouth since about 2015, and I've taught and run online photography programs going back to about 2008, actually. So it's a great pleasure to be able to inject all of that into the MA and to BA top up.
I'm just going to give you an overview of what campus looks like and give you, if you like, a virtual open day and a little walk around the virtual campus. So when of land, if you like, into Canvas, your homepage is your dashboard with the different courses that you're enrolled on to. This is my dashboard, so obviously, I've got quite a lot of modules on here. But actually, somebody doing the MA, by the end of the MA, they would have the five different modules that they've studied on the MA plus also the PhotoHub and the StudentHub.
And actually, the PhotoHub is the first thing that people get access to as well as the StudentHub. And I will just give a very, very quick tour of what that looks like because it gives a sense, I think, of what's available and the kind of networks that we have here really. And over those-- I mentioned six years, over that time, we've built up loads of resources as well and also quite a huge archive of our guest lecturers.
So actually, the PhotoHub is obviously not a taught module in itself, but actually, there's a huge amount of information here about the different modules, about the different expectations. But also, professional resources as well. Resources that are going to feed into supporting you with your assignments and we'll talk about that in a little bit, I hope.
But also, very importantly, our archive of guest lectures, which is a really, really burgeoning resource. So these are just to give you a flavor of some of these big people who have just been speaking to us in this past study block over the summer. But obviously, if we scroll down, we have got some really fantastic photographers, and curators, and writers as well, as well as archive of some of our own and other face-to-face things as well. Face-to-face events and symposia.
But yeah. This is a really enormous resource in here. I haven't totted up how many hours of guest lectures we have, but needless to say, our students don't really need to spend a lot on Disney Plus and Netflix and various other streaming options when they are students with us. There is plenty to do.
So that's the PhotoHub, and that's opened to both MA and BA top up students, is where quite a lot of collaboration happens. But there are no tasks, there are no assignments on that as such. You'll probably have a bit of a sense of what the structure of the course looks like, what the MA looks like and I'm going to talk you through a module. It's a blueprint. So there's no students enrolled on this at the moment.
So I can't show you an activity, but I can't do that anyway because of privacy. So there's no comments or anything on here. But this is actually the module-- Positions and Practice, it's the first module that MA students do, and it's also the module that I run as well. And so yeah. This is one of the four-taught-- one of the four-taught modules that we do.
So again, this is the home page that we have. And throughout this module-- this module is spread over 12-taught weeks and then followed by three weeks of what we call the assessment period where we're assessing your work, but we're also going to be feeding back to you in that time. And students are working autonomously in that time as well on their research project and getting ready for the next module ahead as well.
So hopefully, those 12-taught weeks are broken up into 10 or 12 topics. And yeah. There's a little tittle for each of these here. So I can't get to them through this route, but I get to them through this route here. But I'll talk you through a couple of the other menus, and I'm just going to jump into the student view very quickly, because it's a slightly simpler view to what you'll see from me.
But these are of menus on this side. So you'll get to the different topics this way, but you'll also see announcements. So that's where-- it's like a notice board and really important information is posted here by myself as well as the online tutors. And then we have the assignments, and these are the formal assignments that you need to complete in order to pass the module.
And some discussion areas as well, and also the Tallis Resource List is the module which I'll show you in just a second actually. But if we click on the topics, we can get a scale of what the module looks like. And it's quite sizeable. There's around about between three and five pages per topic. And I just want to take a bit of a deep dive into our topic 2.
But before that, I'll just go-- I'll be very quick and try and do it in a couple of sentences, just summarize what the first module is all about. And essentially, it is about orienting you to the broad world of contemporary photographic practice. Addressing some of the key concerns within contemporary practice, and really getting you all focused towards a proposal for your research project, which is the project-- the practical project that you will undertake throughout the duration of your MA study.
And we might get to talk about that this morning. But to support you with all of that, the four-taught modules are all broken down into smaller topics. And so we're just going to have a look at this one first, Methods and Meaning. So what this topic is about, which will run over one week-- I'm just going to leave the Student View for a second.
So what this topic is about is essentially getting students to think about how different techniques and processes, methods, how they feed into narrative basically. How can we use techniques intelligently, meaningfully, purposefully to communicate without pictures, basically? So it's a hugely broad area, but it's quite an early on point in the module to really get to think about that.
So as I mentioned, there's about five pages for this topic. We start off with an introduction. And in the-- the first thing we're asking people to do then is to make a contribution-- a discussion forum. And so this one, it's a very simple task, which is to think about a faux pas or something in photography that would be deemed as a mistake if you were looking at a kind of a basic handbook of photography, something that you aren't supposed to do.
So in this instance, just as an example, we've got an image from Jean-Marie Donat's book, Predator where he's collected photographs that have included the maker's shadow in it, which is considered a photographic faux pas. So that's what we just-- we're asking people to just have a think about that and make a comment on that. So it's a fairly short task really just to get you thinking about technique.
And then you're really doing that without having done any reading or watching any videos or anything. It's really just off the cuff to get thinking. And then we will look at one of the presentations. So this is a pre-recorded video. I will just give you a very short flavor of that.
INSTRUCTOR: In this topic, we'll look at a few different approaches to making photographic work. We'll first look at how photographers have embraced the medium's ability to record a spontaneous brief moment from life as it unfolds using that quality in conjunction with premeditated rigor. With stricter structures and restraints to that creative process.
- OK. I don't imagine that audio has come across terribly well. But in my module, there are 10 of these videos, which are around about 20, 25 minutes long. And they are quite dense, and they look at a lot of work. They cover a lot of ideas. And so there are also transcripts of those, essentially, which you can access straightaway. It's just taken a little while to load.
And it's interesting to see how some people will start watching the videos and other people will tend to read the transcripts and print them out, make notes, and then will watch the videos. So the information gets processed in different ways. So I'm always quite interested to see how students use our resources, basically.
So here we've just got the verbatim transcript from the video and some thumbnails just for references, basically. But also, what I quite like to do is to use footnotes where we can direct you to a little bit more information about particular ideas and things as well. So they are quite dense, but it's also to give you an introduction to these different topics, basically.
So that is the presentation element, and one of the things about Canvas is you have to scroll all the way down before going to the next page. But also, what we have for all of our presentations are some reflection points, which are really prompting you to think about how these ideas will relate to your own practice and to your research project.
So they're not questions specifically about those practitioners or those projects that we've talked about, but we want you to start to think about relating these ideas to your own photography. And yeah. There's lots of the references and by the reading and things, for each one.
I was just going to say a little bit about then how the forums and the tasks, the activities, and the presentations will feed into the webinar at the end of the week. So these take place on a Thursday afternoon evening and a Friday morning. And you have an option of a few different times to attend. And we generally find that they cater for most people and most time zones. And you would, obviously, just need to go to one of those webinars.
It's totally optional, but it's also quite a valuable part of the program. It's where you can discuss your ideas about that particular topic with your peers and with your tutor. And also it's where you'll get quite a lot of feedback on your actual research project as well. So sometimes, a task is-- does prime you, does prep you for that webinar. And then other times, you don't really need to do anything in preparation for the webinars.
These generally take place-- there's about six weeks of each module where there are webinars. So it's not something that you have to do every week. And as I said, it is optional as well. There's also opportunities to see your tutor individually and throughout each module. And we also encourage peer-to-peer webinars. And that peer support is really, really important to have people getting the most out of the course as well.
And then I mentioned the reflection points at the end of each of the presentations. And a big part of how people learn is through a critical research journal. So it's a cross between a blog and a diary and a sketchbook, I suppose. And again, it's not something that we assess, but it's a place where you can really document your learning.
It's where you can put your research for your project where you can document your different shoots and reflect on how they've gone and how you want to develop those further. But yeah. We give you some suggestions at the end of each topic in the first module. And then as said also-- and then we go on to the next topic.
But then we-- as I said, we would have the Tallis Resources for that week as well. Also taking place in not every week, but in most of the weeks in my module, there is a module seminar and that's about an hour. And that is recorded. So if people can't make that, then they'll catch up watching the recording. I try and keep those as succinct as possible because watching back on recorded webinars isn't the most joyous experience.
But those in particularly in the first module are really geared around really understanding the requirements of the first couple of assignments. And those will carry on in the other modules as well. So it's a good place to touch base with the module leader. To ask any questions that you've got about any of the aspects of any of the topics. But also just to clarify any of the expectations about the assignments as well.
And so I mentioned those briefly earlier. So everything I've shown you, and pretty much everything I've talked about up to this point is optional. And as you can see, you could potentially spend a huge amount of time if you wanted to and if you had that time on each of those topics.
But these are the things that you really have to do in order to pass each of the modules. So in each of our first four modules-- no, sorry, in all of the five modules of the course, there are two assignments and they are both compulsory assignments. So you have to pass both of those in order to pass the module. And our first assignment is to conduct a reflective presentation, an eight-minute presentation, which you don't have to deliver live. That's something that's pre-recorded.
And then also as I mentioned as well, there is the proposal as well. So people will hand in the reflective presentation in week 8, the beginning of week 8, and then the research project proposal, which should contain your photography as well as your words will be handed in at the beginning of week 12, basically. And then yeah, give us a couple of weeks, and then we will assess those, and then you'll have a meeting in which you'll get your feedback, et cetera.
So these assignments are going on in the background of the different topics. And the different topics will help you in various ways. Some ways that are less obvious than others. But they will help you to really get the most out of the assignments. So whilst there is a huge amount of optionality on the program and the different modules, it really is in everybody's best interests to engage as much as they possibly can, basically.
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