AOC competition: ‘What Matters Most?’

the photography competition has very specific guidelines and specifications to how the photograph is shot and how it is sent to the are the entry requirements.

This year’s theme is ‘What Matters Most’. The photo could include anything related to your studies, family, sports, achievements and could be in the past or present…basically we want to see images that reflect what’s important to you.

Show how much this means to you so we can see your expression and emotion in the photograph. Do this through your use of composition, techniques, light and colour, direction of light, depth of field or leading lines.

The competition is open to all AoC member college photography students.

The prizes to be won this year are:

1st Prize – SLR camera + £150 Bob Books voucher
2nd Prize – £200 + £100 Bob Books voucher
3rd Prize – £100 + £75 Bob Books voucher
Vouchers kindly donated by Bob Books.
Entries open: 5 May 2015
Closing date: 31 July 2015
Finalist notification: 7 September 2015


The competition will be judged by Michael Pritchard, Director General of Royal Photographic Society. He will pick the winner and three runners up. The finalists will be chosen based on the level of creativity and the ability to demonstrate this year’s theme.

Supported by Royal Photographic Society

Images must meet these technical specifications:
Size: Maximum of 10MB file size for each image
Resolution: no less than 300 dpi
File format: JPEG only
Filename: photographer’s name__college.jpg (Eg: JohnSmith_BromleyCollege_01.jpg)
Maximum of two entries per student
Over manipulated photos using software e.g. Photoshop will not be accepted. We want to see your photos in its natural element.

what matters most to me above all things is caring for people and making sure they are ok, mostly my mother. i would like to photograph my mother as i believe her to be the one main thing in my life which has always been constant and to me “What Matters Most”.

  • Support is key to make my images suitable for lots of people not just me or people with mothers i need to represent the idea of support.
  • talk about mum in different ways
  • represent different motherly ideas
  • concept of caring (depend and carer)
  • bestfriend (mates, friendly, serious, protective)
  • belongings of mother
  • what does she leave behind (mess) her motherly trail.
  • 3-5 narratives about mum


below is my idea split up into section and the notes which have written on each individual point i wanted a good understanding of each idea so that i had a plan as to what i wanted to portray with my narrative.


DSC_5377 DSC_5379 DSC_5380 DSC_5382

  • i would to capture the cup of tea my mum has every morning as she always has it in the mug i bought her for mothers day a couple of years ago.

on the link below i got some extra information as to create a powerful narrative image this is a blog from a photographer.

i need to also think about whilst taking the image not making it too personal and remembering that people have personal preferences but are always drawn to the main feature of the image. telling a narrative is important you see setting, subject, person and various other aspects of the image that tell the visual story. theres always a hierarchy in an image of importance to the photographer also of important to people in general, and then again theres the visual hierarchy of what’s biggest and what stands out most. also something as simple a gesture, gaze and hand position can change an entire feeling and story of an image. seemingly ‘unimportant’ choices made when photographed say dress, camera awareness all play an important role in how a narrative gets interpreted and understood.

317534da507388851fde14405e0a2bb6 Barbara-4 

the images above present two very different types of pictures with two very different narratives. the first presents a seemingly shy woman but i believe that as you look closer she appears to have a small smile in the corners of her mouth and slightly squinted eyes which to me shows cunning and i believe that due to the background and mist she is up to no good in a mysterious place which a woman like her probably should not venture into. sl this from just a few key factors in an image. I’m sure many others interpretations of this image may be very different but my interpretation is this.

the second image portrays a confident and happy woman with a possible friend or acquaintance they both seem to be looking out of frame which i think is a handsome man to whom they wish to talk to, i have an understanding that their clothes look to be from the 30s 40s and in this era if you wanted a male to come over and talk to you and you were a man you would give then a ‘come here’ look and they would join you and i believe that that is what is going on here.

this third and very beautiful image (‘Lily’ from the series Another November by Laura Stevens) is a beautiful example of vulnerability the model herself of course may be feeling vulnerable due to the fact she is unclothed and in a bath tub being photographed but the acting here is incredible too such a delicate shot on a harsh background pf ripped walls creates the narrative that this is this girls bath and this is her home and that this to extend means she isn’t the most well off young woman on earth and doesn’t have enough money to fix her wall or to live in a safer more expensive accommodation. but as said earlier people have different narrative when taking and seeing an image the photographer actually has a narrative she had in mind and this is it below.

“Following the ending of a significant relationship in my life, an undoing began. Whilst adjusting to being a single woman, I started to create a photographic narrative based on the experience of losing love; directing other women to portray the gradual emotional and circumstantial stages, along the well-trodden track of the broken-hearted.By constructing images of the evolving chapters, I was allowed a vantage point from which to view the changes occurring in me, from feelings of pain, confusion and loneliness towards the reconstruction of my identity as an individual.

i will apply these techniques when i have my test shoot and actual shoot. nothing about this narrative image making is candid or spur of the moment as it will be planned out very intricately from the framing to the lighting to which objects are in view and which are not.

my test shoot contact sheet shows the plans that i had in mind. i first decided i wanted my mum sat in her seat and then i wanted to have some pictures of our goodbye and then outside images but i couldn’t go outside with the camera for this test shoot as it was raining and i am responsible for a college camera so i wanted to keep it dry.

Contact Sheet AOC_Page_1

the contact sheets below are al the image i have taken…

Contact Sheet AOC_Page_2 Contact Sheet AOC_Page_3 Contact Sheet AOC_Page_4 Contact Sheet AOC_Page_5 Contact Sheet AOC_Page_6

out of all of my images unedited i chose a few because they show the characteristics of careing.


mamaa mammaaa

i chose these images because the narrative i had in mind for each was stronger than other narratives for other images. the first image in short was about caring and the angle of me looking up at her symbolises how i metaphorically and emotionally look up to her for for guidance.

the second image shows how hard a goodbye can be but the fact that we say goodbye in the morning is a sign we are close as many adolescents and people with parents tend to not say goodbye at the door and that this is again a morning ritual and we support each other through the day, we wait at the door for each other to leave as if to say ” you can do it you can get through today”.

the third image isnt even an image of my mum but she was offering me some of her tea her special tea and this shows sharing and compassion bothering others something as little as tea represents just how much she has given and supported me throughout my life. and even though you don’t know its my mother the cup also indicates a name “mama” and the narrative here begins to be who’s mama and the story begins you start looking for clues as to who she is and I’ve given just enough information to keep the viewer guessing long finger nails indicate woman, women clothing no wedding ring, comfy chair and a bit of curtain to show that its probably in a home.

and finally the last image has a lot of information to tell a story t keeps the eyes busy trying to figure out the narrative. i had the narrative as my mother carefully listening and caring for me i have shown caring a i have bought her the ug and she s on the phone which would keep people guessing as to who she was texting.

mama but not mamaaaaa

my final two edited images are these two. i believe that these represent personally and in general what matters most to post people, and i believe this to be respect and love but also your homely environment and where you feel comfortable.

the first image here shows that the absence of a person from an image doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not there. here you can tell that a laptop being on and coats and bags in a chair may suggest that a person id present here. seeing a persons belongings and their private home and possessions makes you feel like you are a fly on the wall in the life of another. seeing this room with no people in it makes you try and understand the person or person who live there. the narrative i am trying to display here is that the more you are in someone else’s home that is a little ‘messy’ or ‘untidy’ you realise that you can understand them and see all the little details to which they hold so precious, being in someone else’s home reminds you of being in your home and if you’re not too judgemental of the mess in the image you can see the lovely environment for the creative mind this home is. honestly here this was just a photograph from my test shoot to see which angle and setting looked good for the shoot the following morning but when i had a peer’s point of view i got the understanding that most of my image were oo personal and that this image actually would be a good one to chose due to the fact that a lot of people could relate to its homely feel. the image originally was very dark but a NEF file i was able to change exposure and highlights to create a good bright image from the data that i had saved from using a RAW setting on my shoot.

the second image i have to admit is a vey personal image for myself as its my own mother and well i love her to pieces. this image shows how departure for me and my mother can be quite a hard thing as we support each other through everything and how the rest of the world from our experiences hasn’t given that support. i suffer with mental illnesses personally and my mother has always had to be strong through even her own depression for me. something just as simple as a goodbye in the morning which is a seemingly insignificant gesture to many is a very hard experience for myself and other anxious and depressed people, so my mother and myself try our very best to have a good start to the day with eachother and to ease each other to make it easier to leave out cosy home environment and tackle to day we have. this is the last thing i see (my mother leaving the door) before i have to be brave and leave my home for college and the walk through busy streets but knowing i have left a supportive family behind and i will be joining my supportive family again after college is a powerful motivator for me to get through the day. the processes i have used here are to stand quite close to the door so i do not lose any focus and to keep my aperture quite wide s that i could bring through the majority or light through the door to give my mum an almost halo like effect but more importantly to make outside look like a almost alien atmosphere to symbolise how scary it may seem but the fact that it is still very bright shows its really not that bad as it may feel.


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