Assignment Five – the oral presentation

Please do leave your comments when you have had a chance to watch the presentation.

There is a bit more info on the planning and prep here and here.

The password is ChaCha.

PS Many thanks to my study buddy Rob Townsend for helping me out of a techno nightmare in getting this converted to video format…

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11 Responses to Assignment Five – the oral presentation

  1. Hi Helen, Thanks for sharing your presentation. I found your take on the subject of representation in portraiture fascinating and enlightening. The topics were well explained and you used a good selection of images. The graphical side of the presentation ran smoothly and the transition between images and text did not jar.

    I thought that the Haas institute slide at 4:57 could have been held on screen for a few seconds longer so that the quote could be digested and allowed to sink in. Also, a brief pause for a few seconds after this slide before beginning the next would give a slight change of pace before you begin speaking again. Just a thought…

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to your presentation and you used some great quotes!




  2. helen says:

    Thanks so much, Michael – I really appreciate this!


  3. barryoca says:

    Hi Helen. I enjoyed the presentation.
    I was genuinely impressed by the continuity of your voice. Either this was done in one take, or you joined it up extremely well. The language was articulate and easy to follow.
    There were a couple of places where the images became a slide show background to the voice, and I found it difficult to see the immediate link, which distracted me from the narrative as I sought the link. I would have preferred a few less images at those points to give me more time.
    Your focus seems largely to have been on potentially hurtful images, apart from the Native American lady. I would have been interested in your views on flattery, photoshopping perfection into the image and the dangers of creating unrealistic body image expectations.
    I thought the presentation used some excellent references. Quite a few were new to me, so that was helpful!
    Finally, my apologies, but I found the last quote from John A Powell jarring. Everything else was grounded and pragmatic, then this sudden worthiness.
    I’m a long way behind you on the course and this shows I have a lot of work to do! Thanks for letting me see it. Barry


    • helen says:

      Hi Barry, thanks for your thoughtful comments and your candour. I think what I was trying to say was that I believe we have a moral responsibility to go beyond just being neutral (and not cruel) as photographers. The john. a. powell quotation was – to me – really important because it is a reminder that we should not just be observers but should actively help to build bridges and make a better world (and photography does have the power to do this). This is a big mental shift for me as I always thought my job as an artist was only to observe and record and reflect what I saw. Sorry it came across as worthiness – maybe I edited out too much of my position on this from earlier in the presentation.


  4. Catherine says:

    Hi Helen,
    I think you made a good choice of images to illustrate your points – really important for maintaining the viewer/listener’s attention during what is quite a lengthy audio visual presentation. I just about kept up with your pace of speaking – trying to balance the listening and the looking. Hope I’m recalling this correctly – you expressed some criticism of the photographs you took behind the scenes at the strip show, so I was a bit surprised that you chose to show them. I could have got this wrong though.
    Overall a very professional presentation.


    • helen says:

      Thanks so much, Catherine. Including the strip club pictures was part of trying to show how conflicted (and hypocritical!) I am about a lot of this. When I have images I know are interesting and impactful (for various reasons, different for each viewer) it is hard to bury them.


  5. Rob Townsend says:

    So, I’ve seen this a few times 🙂 and it’s a very accomplished piece of work, probably the best of these I’ve seen. The thing that stayed with me most was this notion of informed consent being a process (around 15:30), something I hadn’t previously considered and even now I find potentially problematic in practice.

    Are you limiting that idea to a reversal of consent between shooting and publishing, or would you include requests to remove images after publishing? Do you think all portrait subjects have the right to change their mind about consent, or is that reserved for subjects with a (subjectively determined) vulnerability? And how could a reversal of consent be effected in a world of digital reproduction?

    Too many questions… (which you don’t need to answer, just food for thought…)


    • helen says:

      Thanks Rob. I think on a practical level the consent issue has to be limited to specific use cases and that period between shooting and publishing. Context and levels of vulnerability/sensitivity have to be the major factor too of course. This idea is new to me too so I am still working through it and am massively conflicted, to be honest. Thank you for your considered thoughts and all your help with getting this formatted.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. John says:

    I think you should be congratulated for overcoming issues associated with PowerPoint – I think it is a rubbish medium to expect to require photography students to engage with, there I’ve said it (again). Your oration is very good, very flat and leaving the viewer to come to terms with the image/word conjunction.
    I think the real test of a presentation of this kind is how much the viewer becomes involved with the narrative, whether they get “rolled-along” with it – because that’s easy, or whether they want to engage with some of the propositions/arguments. For my part I think this work opens up some very interesting lines of enquiry around ethics, power and representation – and that might be its only (very slight) weakness, in that you have taken the burden of responsibility – in respect of the photographic image as a whole – and not necessarily just the portrait. Though all that you say about the portrait is perfectly valid, well researched and presented.
    I was engaged from start to finish, the choice of work to present covering the oeuvre well and complementing your narrative well.
    Nice work.


    • helen says:

      Thanks, John. I did struggle to keep it confined to portraiture especially as there is so much overlap with photojournalism and documentary. And well done for getting in another swipe at PowerPoint : )


  7. annag1611 says:

    Hi Helen,

    My thoughts on your oral presentation having never done your module or a recorded oral presentation:


    – you have a super voice which is lovely to listen to.
    In my opinion, an oral presentation is not a written one spoken out loud. It has its own modulations, pauses, & gives an audience a chance to react to a question or insight. I would ask rhetorical questions so that the listeners get engaged with what you are going to show / have shown them.

    – Excellent – varied & to the point.
    – Good text / image balance.
    IMO, going the start, middle end route is predictable. I would rather go post-modern = have a start a middle and an end but not necessarily in that order; start at the end – you have a super end – and then, at the end or in the middle, give your starter. When I started listening, I took the cursor to the end to see how long it was & promptly went & did something else. When I came back to it, I skipped the start & I am glad I did come back to it because it was very informative with a good balance of theory & image content. It also made me reflect on my own essay which I am about to send off.

    All the best.


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