Visiting Lecturer – Tom Coghill (Me!?)

Posted on October 6, 2014

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Over the past few days I’ve been helping out the photography students of the Plymouth College of Art for their rather ambitious week long project, ‘Picturing Plymouth’. Having had success with my Shekinah project and it’s promotion, I was called back as a visiting lecturer to share my knowledge in Audience, Communication & Promotion to get as much interaction & involvement from the local community to further Picturing Plymouth’s cause.

“Picturing Plymouth is a collaborative project being produced by undergraduate photography students at Plymouth College of Art, under the guidance of documentary photographer Robin Maddock and staff. Over a period of 5 days, students from our BA (Hons) and FD Commercial Photography programmes will be working together to produce and curate an extensive body of photographic work that explores different aspects of the city and its culture. We aim to show something of the unique people, places and personality of Plymouth. In addition to revealing something of the character of the city, the output of the project will also showcase the talents of our photography students.”

On monday we settled into our groups, mine consisting of 14 students working together to create an effective and functioning ‘editorial desk’ for the project which oversee’s the networking, picture editing, design & production to aid the week long project. Inspiration for the project stems from various photographic projects such as the famous Newport Survey, which only recently in 2012 celebrated it’s 100th anniversary and Rick Smolan’s, ‘A day in the life of…’ series.

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By the end of monday, task’s were set and everyone had a clear understanding of what had to be done, ready and rearing to go for the next day…

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Tuesday was the big day, full of activities and photographers taking to the streets and city of Plymouth in a bid to capture, document and archive various different aspects of Plymouth. These aspects consist of seven different groups, each within their own speciality including Portraiture, Street, Documentary Found Objects and Sensory.

AmberSmith- Behind The Scenes Robin Maddock

Whilst the photographers did what they do best, the editorial team were hard at work putting a face to the project, with our photographers and film-makers out capturing some exclusive interviews and behind the scene shots, designers creating the logo and social networkers making sure we’re visible, engaging and connected for the public to see. However being an editorial team, work started pretty slowly whilst we awaited the photographers return…

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On Wednesday we came together in the early afternoon so we could take a look at the images our photographers had been busy taking the day before and make some critical decisions about what images would be used and where. Our outcomes are to have a mock-up newspaper which will later be printed, a short film clip of our activities and photographs representing the project to be shown on the big screen in Plymouth’s city centre and various other PDF files evidencing our progress and thought process throughout the project.

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So the editorial team were split into three different groups, one focusing on the production of the draft newspaper, another on the outcome of the short film clip and the last on social networking. By the end of the day, everyone seemed to be working fantastically together, just like a well oiled machine you could say.

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By Thursday everything was coming together nicely, the layout for the newspaper was confirmed after hours of experimenting, the film clips to be shown across PCA and the big screen were nearly made and our social networks were up and running being updated regularly. With the deadline round the corner being Friday, the pressure could be felt, regardless my group were extremely organised, working well as a team and getting on with it all!

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(‘Found Objects’ – Photographer/ Image maker: Barbara Pruska)

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Friday was the deadline, with the morning to tie up any lose ends, put drafts together and collect all supporting evidence of the outcomes progression the students were as busy as bee’s, all knowing exactly what they had to do and getting on with it from the crack of dawn! By 1.30 the presentation to tutors had begun, with all lecturers present to see how the groups progress had gone over the short week long project.

“Conceived partly as an induction activity for 1st year students Picturing Plymouth was also designed to encourage working relationships between the different programmes and year groups. Year 2 and 3 students joined the activity, involving every undergraduate student, 110 in total, in an exciting and intense exercise to kick-start the academic year. This was the first time that such a project, involving all three year groups had been attempted.” – Tim Gundry, Programme Leader – HE Photography.

With such an ambitious task and it’s first time having been attempted there were many things that may not have worked out, but that’s the thing with trail and error, you don’t know till you try. Fortunately we did, as the project seemed to really motivate everyone after returning to PCA after a long summer break and kick start them into thinking about photography and its practice, only setting them up for a stronger start into the year.

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My Thoughts on the experience…

I have really enjoyed my experience as a part of this project, I’ve loved being able to talk about promotion and it’s possibilities, teaching others about how you can even make headlines and news and just generally helping out how I can. Being a lecturer for a career is definatly something I have considered before and after this experience, although it can be tough with so much running through your head at once, I feel more inclined to one day become an educator!

I’ve had lecturing experience’s before, mostly at the Plymouth College of Art on multiple occasions to other students whilst I was still a student there only recently, as well as running my own photography course for ‘The Shekinah Mission’. Whilst at a wedding I was photographing I was offered another two positions to run my own photography course’s in Plymouth, something’s telling me to go into teaching and maybe one day I will if I continue to explore these opportunities, but for now i’m going to be a photographer for awhile.

Follow the social networks of Picturing Plymouth to see the projects progress and if there are any photographs of you!

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Posted in: University Work