Qualifications and standards

Scholarship photography exemplars - 2015

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Outstanding Scholarship

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This Outstanding Scholarship Photography submission is a poignant exploration into grief and depression based on the candidate’s discovery of particular events within their own family history in regard to mental health and subsequent emotional impact. Through strong analysis and consideration of the best way to explore this emotive topic, the candidate chose to develop a sequence narrative approach focusing on a lone female as the protagonist.

A high level of technical facility and use of photographic devices is applied across the entire folio to achieve what is sustained and exemplary image making. The selected domestic site offers good opportunity for conceptual possibilities around composition and sets up useful controls in regard to narrative. The female model is well directed throughout, which is amplified through strong deployment of photographic approaches; excellent control of light, varying composition and a wide range of viewpoints.

While the folio utilises predominantly conventional photography, inventive photographic seeing leads the viewer through the unfolding story. Having an appropriate model to photograph, who is both well directed and subtly played contributes a cinematic aspect that powerfully communicates the desired emotional affect. The small amount of constructed imagery is also integrated with restraint and effectively adds to the intimacy of the narrative.

There are a number of devices employed that keep a tight rein on the tension required of the topic. For example, the effective use of light and dark as a pictorial element combined with the screen/glass, acts as a barrier between the viewer and the subject and a metaphor for the woman’s mental state. It also emphasises a separation between the character and the reality of her life, i.e. she appears disconnected from her own surroundings.

The shifting viewpoints invite us into the space, a space where the viewer is made to feel uncomfortable, as the character refuses to engage with or acknowledge the camera. This creates a suggestion of paranoia, thereby making the viewer the voyeur. The claustrophobic sensibility is further enacted by compositional tricks, such as seeing through cracks in a door, masking or obscuring parts of the image/character, drawing the curtains, etc.

Overall, this is an exemplary photographic study. The workbook also reveals a highly reflective practice, with the candidate responding critically to the successes discovered subsequent to or during shoots on location.




(click icon images to see a large version in a new window)

Panel 1 (JPG, 1.3MB)

Panel 2 (JPG, 863KB)

Panel 3 (JPG, 1MB)

Entire Folio (JPG, 3.2MB)

Sample Workbook pages

Sample page 1 (JPG, 3.5MB)

Sample page 2 (JPG, 3.5MB)

Sample page 3 (JPG, 3.4MB)

Sample page 4 (JPG, 3.5MB)

Sample page 5 (JPG, 3.3MB)

Sample page 6 (JPG, 3.6MB)

Sample page 7 (JPG, 3.3MB)

Sample page 8 (JPG, 3.3MB)


This Scholarship Photography submission sets up a clear strategy from the outset, identifying the theme of ‘youth’ to talk about how teenagers in the contemporary age are constantly exposed to an online sharing of themselves by virtue of being digital natives. It is an interesting and generous proposition – quite simply they want to inspire others, educate and share the experience of what it is like to be a teenager.

The candidate declares that they want to create an impact. The various phases of the work systematically move through different modes of photographing and image making – different locations, times of day, handwritten text overlay (lyrics), different groups of people engaged in a range of activity, and so on. This is combined with a visual attitude that owns the intent and permeates throughout the folio. Appropriate low-fi, low-res and grainy imagery is utilised to appeal to the teenage audience, which then locates a certain type of energy and grittiness to the subject matter.

Decisions are made in relation to the conceptual underpinnings discussed in the workbook, i.e. the use of the phone as a lighting device is improvisational, creates mood and introduces the idea of isolation – and also locates a specific narrative in relation to site, teenage activity and night culture. An ‘in-the-moment’ documentary approach is consistently applied throughout to reveal a realistic and somewhat direct view into the teenage urban world.

The workbook provides a thorough overview of the research undertaken, the various contexts the candidate sees as being significant and the way in which they have incorporated these into the development of work. They understand how particular contexts and processes can affect meaning in the work and utilise them to assert particular qualities about teenage life (fashion, film, music, hip-hop, youth culture of the 90’s). This results in an aesthetic that refers to advertising and filmic styling and which taps into the thinking and attitudes of their own peer group, who they identify as one of their core audience. A real strength of this submission is the authentic voice that is present throughout the enquiry positioning a strong sense of ownership and ambition within the work.


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