Portfolio Review | Kirsty MacKay

I was really pleased when Kirsty agreed to a portfolio review by telephone and we spent an hour talking about photography which was an insightful experience. Kirsty wasn’t overly moved by my symbolic work and suggested that I keep shooting. The need to align the elements of mental health and place occurring once again. I asked her about some of my portraits which I was slightly concerned however she was enthusiastic about them suggesting that British photographers are obsessed with work that is clean with a sense of order. Kirsty suggested that I’m led by the emotion and listen to the stories. She spoke candidly about her personal motivations having lost her father when she was seventeen. And spoke of the challenges that caused in later life. I suspect she has many unanswered questions.

Mackey also spoke of the sense of geography within her work and why that was important to place the work, feeding into my decision to focus my project within a working class setting. On reflection, the comments of both Mackay and Pantall are useful in this sense as I have narrowed my project down to some capacity however I feel I will need to do this further in order go go deeper with my own work.

What struck me and was probably to the detriment of a review in the work was when she talked of an emotional connection between the photographer and the sitter. When I explained my thoughts on the presence of an emotional connection. Mackay agreed totally when I suggested that it was a sense of intimacy within the collaboration. A conversation that I’d previously had with Laura. As said earlier, this led to an an insightful conversation which perhaps wasn’t directly relevant to the my project however I was very pleased to have engaged in such a deep conversation about photography. After a short period I felt as if I was having a conversation with a close friend which is something I will value.

Finally, Mackay emphasised the importance of visually communicating my message. Again aligning with Pantall. She suggested finding things, objects that communicate a message. She suggested that she didn’t understand the starting point of the project which is an issue I will will rectify but maybe this will be achievable when the project is finished.

An interesting point Mackay made was the presence of an authentic voice suggesting a question about the work, is it my voice? Someone else’s voice or a collective voice? Once again food for thought and an important issue I will need to resolve.

Mackay spoke to me about the idea of Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACE’s. Having done some research into this I understand that lots of my collaborators talks of what I could now describe as ACE’s. I will need to reflect further on what this means regarding the ‘voice’ of my project.

In conclusion, this was one of the best experiences of the MA and this was in no doubt due to the journey I had travelled throughout the course. There would have been no point in speaking to someone such as this a year ago as my own understanding would have been too weak.

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