Assignment five: Applying the techniques of illustration and narrative

I have moved on fairly rapidly to this final assignment in the TAOP course after completing assignment four however I have been giving the content considerable thought for some time. I had a short trip planned to Porto in Portugal and had the idea that this would provide a good setting for this assignment. I wanted to ensure I was incorporating many of the exercises and skills I’ve learnt from The Art of Photography course so far. I have therefore tried to show framing, elements of design, use of colour and lighting techniques.

I came back from Portugal with over 200 images that I have now shortlisted for this assignment. I had travelled to Porto previously but always on business trips and this was my first visit as a ‘tourist’. Also with an open eye and mindful of taking photos for this assignment I probably discovered more of the city than I would normally have. For most of the time I used my Nikon D600 with a 50 mm prime lens. This allowed me to cover a lot of ground as Porto is a great walking city. I also used a 16-35mm wide angle lens on a number of occasions.

Cover Page

The Ponte da Arrábida built in 1963 in cast concrete, is the most downstream bridge across the Douro River. At the time of construction it was the largest concrete span of any bridge in the world (615m).


Ponte Dona Maria, is a railway bridge built in 1877 by Gustave Eiffel. At that time its span of 160m was the longest arch bridge in the world. The bridge was opened by the King of Portugal and named after his Queen Maria Pia.


The view from Gaia over to the district of Ribeira in Porto is one of the most picturesque spots in the city and UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1996.


São Bento Railway Station contains around 20,000 magnificent tiles alluding to the history of transport and Portugal which cover most of the atrium. They’re the work of artist Jorge Colaço and date from 1916.


Casa da Música was built to mark 2001, the year in which Porto was Cultural Capital of Europe and is the only dedicated building to music in Portugal. It is a popular spot for skateboarders due to the marble banks designed surrounding the building.


The Serralves Museum  is a world-class museum displaying cutting-edge international contemporary art in a striking minimalist building by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Alvaro Siza Vieira. The eighteen hectares of grounds are dotted with modern sculptures including a gigantic shovel by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen as seen in the cover image above.


A visit to Porto would not be complete without a tour of a Port wine house. W & J Graham’s was founded in Oporto, in 1820 by the two brothers William and John Graham. 


At night the Porto skyline comes alive with views from Casa Ribiera over the Douros to Vila Nova de Gaia. The signs of the port wine house light up as the sunsets to produce a magical skyline and the best view in this city.


_GWD5562 _GWD5564


Tutor Report on Assignment 5:

Overall Comments: Well done for completing your final assignment, Graeme. You have worked through the course at a great pace. As this last assignment has appeared only days after the last one I don’t imagine that you have had time to build on your learning logs and to address points raised. I would therefore urge you to continue to work on your research before submitting for formal assessment.

Elements to consider with your assignments:

For this assignment you need to choose an appropriate subject matter in keeping with one of the three given headings of ‘A Commodity’, ‘Light’ or ‘Holidays’ or a suitable alternative theme. Content images needed to be chosen for their ability to work together to strengthen the narrative, while the cover picture should give the audience an understanding of what to expect from the story.

You have been given unlimited scope to be creative here and have the added benefit of being able to add text to strengthen the reading and interpretation of the images. Strong creative examples could show interesting ideas, unusual situations or the evidence of something happening. Cover illustrations should give a sense of narrative with and without the use of text.

Your assignment in connection with the above points:

For this assignment you have chosen to produce a travel style document on ‘Porto’ showing what the area has to offer the tourist. You have been thorough with this covering much of the architecture and points of interest. Images have all been taken well and show a good level of engagement with techniques learned over the course.

The title of this assignment is ‘illustration and design’ and with this in mind I would like you to take this work a stage further and really design a book style document rather than the scroll down pictures and text currently appearing on the blog. Think about how the pictures are going to work together on each page, make small sketches perhaps, and show how your accompanying text is going to appear on the page. Working through this process and planning the task appropriately may result in you shortening the wording on occasion or altering the size of the picture. You may find that you re-arrange the order of images and think a little more thematically about the content of each page.

You have a fair number of images here across the set (eg three night scenes of the area) and there is a danger of this book becoming the ramblings of a tourist rather than a structured document. You may need to take a couple of images out to strengthen the work.

Cover Page:

This first picture is quirky and fun and the text gives explanation on what will follow. You have shown good use of technique here giving nice clear detail of your subject against a bright blue sky background.


I particularly like your ‘mini-theme’ here with the wine. The three images work very well together sequentially to build narrative and the inclusion of a human element really helps us to identify with the subject. The smooth transition that you have achieved here, with each picture leading neatly on to the next, is what I would really like to see across the body of work.

Summary/ Pointers for next assignment:

More work needed here on illustration and design of your story. Think, build, re-position until you have achieved a lovely strong book feel to the work.

Learning logs/critical essays:

You haven’t had time to add work to your learning logs since sending me Assignment Four and the images are still not appearing correctly. I would like to see you add more personal reflection to your research explaining how you feel about what you are looking at and how this might impact your own work. Research on Picasso and on ‘The 7th Street…’ for instance, includes a sentence that suggests that you are engaging with the work that you are looking at on a more personal level. I would like to see you do more of this. Other ‘reflection’ can on occasion read a bit like the blurb on the back of a book.

Other: Well done for completing the assignments and I wish you all the best with your studies.

Updated Assignment 5 in Book Format: Assignment 5 ‘Book’


My thoughts and reflections:

My original plan was to create a book format for this assignment however the power unit went on my iMac which meant I was without my desktop for 2 weeks. I have now reworked the assignment post feedback (and a new power unit) which is available from the PDF link above. This is a much improved presentation format for this illustration and narrative. I was pleased to be able to incorporate some of the elements of the course into these images and feel I am now reflective about each photograph I take with additional consideration to the various elements of design etc. I am excited and enthusiastic about moving forward with the next module and have decided to commence with the Digital Photographic Practice as soon as possible.


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