4.5 and 6: Proposal for the self-directed project


Write a project proposal for the self-directed project that you’ll submit as Assignment Five. Don’t write more than 500 words. The purpose of this document is to formulate and communicate your ideas to your tutor, for
them to approve and provide comments, suggestions and any other feedback.

The project proposal is not a binding contract. It is quite acceptable for it to evolve and perhaps shift direction; this is part of the creative process. However, you may find it helpful to think of the document as a real-life professional application for funding, or for permission to photograph at a restricted location.

See Designing a project brief for guidelines

The project brief: What, where, how and why am I photographing this subject?

My main aim is to look at different ways of selecting and editing the same sets of images for different purposes: eg documentary, expressive and tourist and how different impressions can be given through different design of books and on-line slideshows. I will explore the use of black and white and what effects this has on interpretation of the images.

I am proposing to use images from my forthcoming 3 week work trip to Ethiopia (November) to take further issues in documentary travel photography raised in Assignment 4. My work is to look at the horticulture value chain, and how the incomes of women in particular can be increased. My work involves training farmers and union/cooperative members and I will be staying most of the time in one community (but I do not yet know what accommodation will be like). As part of this I should be able to negotiate some time specifically for photography to support my work.


Influences and research

I will research further on African photographers (including Michael Tsegaye and make enquiries from colleagues about other Ethiopian photographers). I will also research different Black and White styles eg some photobooks I have from Lithuania and Marcus Bleasdale.

Likely treatment: How will you photograph this subject? What special techniques or equipment will you use? Do you need any further training? Do you need or have you got a ‘plan B’ in case something doesn’t work?

The treatment will depend very much on what I manage to do – I will have to be flexible. But my ideas will develop and evolve as part of my professional work. I do not currently have a visual idea of the context, and there is no means of getting this in advance. But I see it as including photographs of:

  • rural and peri-urban landscapes and related environmental issues
  • documentary portraits of farmers, union/cooperative leaders and NGO staff and maybe traders
  • a visual and/or verbal analysis of the power relations that bind them.

Before I go I will practise using on-camera fill-flash. But most photos will be taken in natural light with my existing equipment (including tripod).

If in the end I cannot take the photographs I want here because of other work priorities, then plan B is to use one or more sets of existing photos taken earlier this year (eg Kyrgyzstan and/or Ivory Coast and/or Tanzania) and/or photographs from a trip to Nigeria in January (though this is not so long in the community, I have a long road journey that is likely to be interesting).

Any of this will provide adequate material to look at issues in Book Design and Web slideshows. And to think through further my ideas on journeys and documentary from the previous Assignment.

Potential outcome

I am planning to self-publish the book (for my own use at least – possibly for the development agencies I am working with) on Blurb and have been experimenting already – based on work for my Visual Communications Book Design course.

I will also add a Slideshow to my Zemni website – possibly with several different slideshows for different purposes.

As part of this I will also tidy up the whole travel and documentary section of my website.

• Budget/resources: What will you need to spend, or what other resources will you require to complete the work? How will you access these?

No extra resources needed except to pay for Blurb.

• Estimated schedule: Identify the different phases of this work and set realistic deadlines to achieve them by. It is often helpful to do this by identifying the final deadline and working backwards.

Taking photos in November.

Completion by end first week of January – or end of February after I get back from a separate trip to Nigeria.


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