Dean O'Brien's Blog

354MC Professional Practice Portfolio: Final reflection

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Coming to the end of this final module feels like a beginning.  A new beginning at that, into the professional world of photography.

Degree Show

My role in the degree show as curator managed to show my strengths, one of which I feel was leadership.  Not only did I help fellow students to hang their own work but was on hand to delegate tasks to those who in turn, could help others.

A scale model needed to be built of the gallery and it was at this point that I asked fellow student Larissa Grace to come on board and help with the curation.  I picked her simply because I knew this was a task that she would complete, and more importantly within the desired timescale.

I decided to design an aerial plan of the gallery space showing where windows, doors and power points were etc…This was then distributed via email and social networking sites to all members of staff involved with the gallery.  This helped both me Paul and Sadie to allocate spaces to students within the area.

The main skill in this show coming together was planning.  Planning from all those involved and everyone understanding what was happening and when.  I managed to keep Paul Smith, Greg, Sadie Kerr and Larissa up to speed with any developments or changes.

Overall, I learnt a lot from helping to curate this final exhibition and it was a great learning curve.  It has made me consider having an exhibition of just my own work at some point in the future.

Publicity for the show left a lot to be desired and again it was only down to a certain few who actually bothered to spread the word.  I personally emailed Peter Dench, Simon Roberts, Chris Floyd and Wayne Ford to invite them to the private view.  I was constantly tweeting about the event and adding the hashtag #exposure24  but I feel that there was only a handful of us doing this.

I also walked up to City College in Coventry to invite my former tutors.  This was also beneficial to the university as many who are leaving college are looking for a university to apply to.  It was a great opportunity for them to see the quality of work that we are producing.

For whatever reason, it seems that nobody had contacted the Coventry Telegraph.  Our city’s biggest newspaper.  Having served as an intern there, and now a freelance I managed to get them to come and write a piece about the show.  After they took some shots, I then managed to get hold of Paul Smith to talk to reporter Cara Simpson so that she could be given all the vital information for the piece.  This should have been sorted for the opening night or at the very least the first day of official opening.  Again, this was a task that had been allocated to other students within the group but was left for others to do.  In this case, me.


Originally a book was planned with a group of us, and this all fell apart towards the end.  After a few months of hard work by a small number of those within the group, people started to drop out.   Reasons varied from ‘not being pleased with the design’ to those dropouts ‘not having budgeted well enough’.  These reasons seemed strange considering that this was a group production and everyone had equal opportunity to add their input.  Yes indeed, ‘everyone’ had the opportunity to take control of design and getting quotes etc..but many chose not to and it was left to others.

Group activities such as this always carry a risk.  A risk of lazy uncommitted people jumping on board hoping others will do the work for them.  This is exactly what happened here.  However. I’m not bitter.  This was a great opportunity to create my own, individual publication aimed at my own target audience.  Something that could be built on long after university  and no doubt more beneficial in the long run.  Yes, every cloud and all that…

Onwards and upwards

This whole module was a fantastic experience.  Even the things that never went to plan somehow seemed to turn out for the best.  This was through positive thinking and often standing back and counting to ten.  Removing the blinkers.  Laying all the pieces on the table and changing them around to see how else they can fit.

So what about my Ukraine project?  I plan to continue to work with my two main subjects who are looking for a partner and see if they find what they are looking for.  I am also going to create a crowd funding video which will hopefully fund me going to Ukraine for at least a month.

My publication will also continue to develop as more stories start to unfold.  The bigger picture sees me exploring the underlying issue as to why so many women are leaving a country they love.  I want to document more issues that surround social change in former Soviet countries.

After graduating from Coventry University I then start at Warwick University in September 2012 to learn Russian.  This will give me a great unique selling point when trying to get commissions in former Soviet countries.


Written by Dean O'Brien

June 8, 2012 at 2:26 pm

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