Portfolio review by Tristan Poyser

During Body of Work and Contextual Studies I reviewed all the work I could find on the Irish Border. The most recent work was a project called The Invisible In-between by Tristan Poyser. As well as being recent it was also unusually, made by an Englishman. I thought it would be valuable, therefore, to ask him to review my work.

The physical presentation of my body of work is important, as the printing on Irish linen is part of the concept. Rather than just send Tristan a pdf, therefore, I arranged to meet him in person in Manchester, where he lives.

This proved to be a wise decision as Tristan very much appreciated the haptic qualities of the linen print and could see what the medium added to the work. We had a long conversation about my project, and I also took the opportunity to discuss his work with him. I will post the outcome of that discussion elsewhere.

This is the review which Tristan sent me after our meeting:

I take away these points from this review:
1. The point about the border often consisting if  easily-crossed waterways is successfully made.
2. The newspaper cuttings are successful in creating narrative.
3. As I always felt, the physical presentation of the images on linen is an important part of the project.
4. As I have already considered after Stuart Franklin’s review, the newspaper cuttings are too dense to form part of a visual presentation, although I still think there could be room for them in a book.
In terms of actions for me, there are two main ones:
1. Consider how best to present the images in electronic form, given the importance of the linen.
2. Review all the newspaper cutttings and try to distil a more succinct narrative using fewer and shorter clips.


Portfolio review by Stuart Franklin

Stuart Franklin is a member, and ex-president, of Magnum. He is currently Professor of Documentary Photography at Volda University College, Sweden. He is the author several books, including The Documentary Impulse (2016, London: Phaidon Press) a history of documentary photography and its motives. I have worked with Stuart briefly, assisting him on a project in Brittany as part of his book ‘Analogies’, published in 2019.

I sent Stuart my portfolio PDF and received the following review by return:


While largely positive, the the review does include some criticism. My summary would be that while Stuart appreciated the work, it was not the way he would have done it. I don’t have a problem with that, because as Stuart himself says, everyone has their own approach.

I would make just two points in repsonse.

Firstly, the view that ‘Staying with out-of-the-way streams, without including rivers, gives the impression of a ‘timeless’ romantic rural landscape, which, for much of the region, it is not.’ I have explored the border extensively during this project, driving the length of it several times and crossing every single crossing point. In fact, by far the majority of the border is rural, and much of it is formed by the small streams I have photographed because it was originally just aa county boundary. The insignificance of these streams – in terms of how easy it is to cross them and how out-of-the way they are – is part of my point about how difficult this border would be to police is there was a customs border as threatened by Brexit. I can only assume, therefore, that I have failed to put this point across in my portfolio and that is something I need to address.

The second critical point is the accessibility of the newspaper cuttings. I have myself already pondered this problem: the dichotomy between presenting enough information and avoiding it being too dense, too inaccessible. Since I have not yet finalised my assessment submission for Body of Work, this is an issue I can address in my final assignment of that course.


Assignment 1 – tutor feedback

This is the formative feedback from my tutor following my tutorial on Assignment 1

During the tutorial we discussed my concerns about image content and the amount of text. The outcome was that I am happy to continue with the work in this form, but I will keep the text under review. There were some technical issues which I have resolved in an updated version of my portfolio pdf.

Assignment 1 – submission

Assignment one
Asking for feedback

1. Prepare a PDF document with the intention of showing it to an industry professional and asking them politely for a short piece of feedback. This should contain an edit of the work you produced for Body of Work. You may wish to include an overarching artist’s statement as well as the introduction you wrote in Body of Work. In the first instance, you’ll use this to introduce your work and your ideas to your tutor who will give you suggestions on the submission itself and how to enhance the PDF before sending it out. Please tell your tutor who the PDF is intended for and include some background information on how you’ll contact them. Make sure that you’ve researched the form your submission should take; some organisations still ask for a CD/DVD, for example, which you should prepare in advance..

2. Having taken your tutor’s comments on board, use your PDF document (or, if applicable, a hard copy portfolio or CD/DVD) to get some feedback from a professional photographer or another professional from within the industry. This could be done via a portfolio review or by a contact you already have.’

This is the portfolio I prepared for review with my tutor for Assignment 1