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Photography A Level

Subject talk






1 Transition work

At Finchley Catholic High School, we believe in high quality transition material. It is vitally important that you complete this transition work in its entirety and you engage fully with the demands expected of you. The key underlying principles of this transition work is to ensure that, when you commence your course, you have:
• demonstrated your ability to work independently
• a realistic expectation of the subjects and the range of topics covered
• an appreciation of the fact that there will be lots of new content
• some understanding of the skills that you need to develop over the 2 years of study
• an inquisitive mind

You will spend the first few weeks of the course presenting your transition work to your teachers and fellow students. You will be supported through discussion points, prior student examples and access to additional resources. You will get to use the photography studio and being your journey in creating an exciting and visually dynamic online portfolio, as well as explore various editing apps and software.


2 Understanding Visual Communication

You will be taken through a series of class-set tasks so that you better understand the 6 formal elements and how they are used within photography.  For each of these elements, you will research a contextual artist; learn how to use the various settings on a DSLR camera; learn how to use full lighting and studio equipment and begin your exploration of photoshop and its endless editing possibilities.


3 Component 1: Abstraction

You will learn about abstraction and how artists, photographers, designers, filmmakers and editors have responded to it over the years. You will look at both contemporary and historical references and present all work in a meaningful and independent manner on your online portfolio. You will work both in the studio and outside of it to focus down on ways to represent fragments of your world. This unit will end in your creation of a large-scale ambitious photographic installation that is independently driven and your teachers will support you through access to unconventional materials, such as plaster, resin, projection and print.


4 Personal Study

This will consist of a critical and analytical written piece of a minimum 1000 words continuous prose, making links to your own practical investigations, supported by contextual research. The personal study comprises 12% of the final qualification and is marked out of 18. Through the personal study, you will learn to demonstrate understanding of relevant social, cultural or historical contexts. You will also express personal interpretations or conclusions, and use technical and specialist vocabulary. The focus of the personal study can be any concept, movement, person, people, artefact(s), or other source of reference that you wish to work with. However, it must be related to your own ideas, investigations and practical work developed in Component 1.


5 Component 2: Externally Set Assignment

The Externally Set Assignment is worth 40% of your final grade and comprises an externally set theme with suggested starting points. You will need to develop your own personal work from this theme and related starting points. Previous years have seen “Apart/Together”, “Transformation” “Truth, Fantasy and/or Fiction” as starting points. You will produce a body of work in response to this and learn how to quickly navigate yourself through an exciting enquiry. You will develop your skills further so that you can create a final piece in a 15-hour timed examination period.


Textbooks and Useful Websites

The Photograph: A Visual and Cultural History by Graham Clarke

  • ISBN-13 : 978-0192842008