Week Twenty Four Reflections

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The opening paragraphs of my Critical Review of Practice noted:

In most of my photographic career, I have recorded what was in front of me, usually using colour. In the MA I have moved to constructing narrative through metaphorical landscapes in black & white. My practice has also become research-led in exploring documentary, better understanding Cambodia and evaluating the social context of Genocide.

For twenty years my wife and I have worked in partnership with many Cambodian groups – government, NGO and private. That spirit is now being translated into a broader socially engaged  photographic practice.

Looking back, it is quite extraordinary how quickly almost two years has gone by. I am proud of the outcome, and as I have written elsewhere, I see this moment as a fairly significant punctuation point in a long Cambodian story. More accurately, perhaps, this is a two year narrative inside a 25 year long story, with more to come.

One of the really lovely things about the current Unfinished Stories exhibition at BRLSI is how people have engaged with the work, and wanted to talk with Sarath and myself. Visitors have lingered and asked questions. Without the MA it is likely I would not have created this platform for discourse, not given Sarath an opportunity to voice his thoughts, openly.

In created the show and the book, I also now have a ‘packaged’ offer to see what opportunities I can use that in, for 2020 and beyond.

I am pleased that I decided to do the MA, having learnt a great deal about photography, and feeling quite energised about learning more. It has provided a good intersection between my practical and academic interests. That said, whilst the result of my FMP work is quite different in character to any of my previous photography, I think that the jury will remain out for a while as to how much my day-to-day photography has systemically changed.

I am not going to go through all of the events and modules of the program – suffice to say some sections were more energising and instructive than others – but I do want to thank the tutors and staff for all they have brought to the program and to my practice.

Perhaps my main reflection, though, is the power and importance of the Cromarty cohort. From the very beginning, at the February 2018 face-2-face, it seemed that we were collectively onto something special. The group is from all kinds of backgrounds, and has varying levels of photographic experience. A few have dropped out for different reasons, some very sad. But all shared three things.

First, a real passion and talent for photography.

Second, an equal passion to learn. There has been large measures of encouragement, advice and challenge. We have all learnt a great deal from each other’s projects, too.

And third, perhaps most importantly, deep senses of equality and of caring for each other. There have been many highs in the past two years, and at least as many lows. It is no exaggeration to say that there were moments that only Cromarty kept me on the program. I feel gratitude, but even more, I feel friendship.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention Ingrid. It was her idea to get involved in Cambodia, back in the 90s. It was her determination that made the school program happen. And it is her love that helped me make this MA a reality, with both encouragement and helpful critique. In so many ways this has always been a joint project

I hope that all will continue into 2020 and beyond.


Header: Mick Yates. 2018. Danny’s Deardorff. Falmouth Face-2-Face.

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