Assignment 5: applying the techniques of illustration and narrative

Task: Choose a theme with a narrative element to create a fictional magazine. Write captions to explain and link each photograph.

525 years since the War of the Roses, there was going to be a reenactment of the Battle of Bosworth at Market Bosworth. This seemed like an interesting context for this assignment with a clear narrative element.

Planning

I had taught about the beginning of the Tudor dynasty for a number of years in primary school so I had a clear idea of the significance of the battle and the crowning of Henry Tudor. I decided to look at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Site’s website to find out more about the location and the kinds of things I could expect to see on the day. I was very excited at the prospect of photographing an event that had occurred before the age of photography.

I had a clear plan of the kind of shots I wanted to capture. These included:

  • preparation for battle in the camp
  • soldiers marching to battle
  • the expressions on the soldiers faces
  • close-up shots of the action
  • using the smoke from gunpowder to authenticate the atmosphere of the battlefield
  • Henry marching victorious, to complete the set of images
  • to avoid on-lookers and modern objects that would look out of place on a 1485 battlefield!

Below is my final submission of images for this assignment, including changes recommended by my tutor.

Front Cover

After the shoot I decided to create a fictional commemorative magazine marking 525 years since the Battle of Bosworth. When I was younger there was a television series called ‘By the Sword Divided’. It was based on the English Civil War between the Round-heads and the Cavaliers. I thought it would be an ideal title for the front cover. I decided to use black and white to frame the text, which was an old English style. I chose the above photo because of how I have managed to capture the two swords clashing together. It seemed to reflect the title well. My tutor was very pleased with this start to the assignment with his only recommendation being to remove the word ‘Only’ from the price! I have done this in the image below.

Front Cover - adapted

It was a cloudy morning which seemed to add to the anxiety and atmosphere in the camp with the soldiers preparing for battle. I spent some time around the camp waiting for opportunities to create a sequence of soldiers being called to battle and leaving. I used Apple’s Pages to arrange the images in sequence. I had used a tele-photo lens to keep the subjects tightly framed. However my tutor pointed out that in the first photo the flag is very close to the edge of the frame and in the last image I have cut a soldiers foot off! Unfortunately I had no space on the original images to fix this. It was the same problem on page II with the flag being very close to the border. I could have used another image for this part of the narrative but I liked how the flag leads into the image and how the soldier next to the flag bearer is looking to the camera.

For the final battle I wanted to capture the the pikes and get as close as I could to the action without getting injured! Therefore I used my tele-photo lens which filled the frame with soldiers and gave the impression of a larger battle beyond the lens. In a magazine spread this page would be on the left-hand side so I chose an image where the soldiers were looking to the right. The image beneath it on page III was chosen because of the two triangles created by the pike, dividing the frame diagonally. I also wanted to create some blurring to give the sense of frenzy and chaos from a battle.

As the battle continued I captured a lot of shots, some of which were too blurred or not quite balanced. The top image on page IV was chosen because of it sharpness, the sword striking the knight and his expression. The two knights were balanced in the frame with less action in the background, suggesting the battle was drawing to a close. I spent a while photographing the musketeers, capturing smoke to give a sense of atmosphere and authenticity, whilst still showing the musketeer. I had a number of shots and decided to use a couple of them to illustrate the sequence of a musket being fired.

To illustrate a close to this narrative I looked for a photo of Henry walking triumphantly on the battlefield. To achieve this I wanted to juxtapose him with a dead soldier in the frame, with the focus on Henry.

Reflection

When I first received my course file this was the assignment I was looking forward to the most, possibly because I was excited to think how I would be approaching it based on everything I had learnt during TAOP. On the day I felt prepared, knowing the types of shots I needed and  also how I could use my camera’s settings to achieve different effects. Photographing a battle was extremely exciting and involved having to think on my feet and anticipate what would happen next. Having had such positive feedback and the experience of photographing an event has given me more confidence to explore the possibility to do more photojournalism in the future.

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