Hey guys,

I’m back again with another blog post and this time I will be writing about my first visual assignment. I actually really enjoyed doing this visual assignment as it allowed me to express the emotions of myself and my family members.

BUT before that, I am going to begin with talking about what this visual assignment is about and why I have chosen to do this one particular assignment out of all of the others.

So, here is the assignment link: ds106 Assignment bank: visual.

The best thing about the “ds106 assignment bank” is that any student can choose to do absolutely any assignment from the allocated categories. So in this case as it is a visual assignment, I chose to do,

“We’re are the real life Brady Bunch!” 

The purpose of this visual assignment was to basically recreate The Brady Bunch where everyone in the family is specifically showcased in their own personal space and each of them have been photographed in a different angle or have a completely different emotion on their faces. If you have absolutely no idea about what The Brady Bunch look like or what exactly it is then take look at the link and image below.

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We are the Brady Bunch

I found this assignment really interesting as I thought I can create a different angle to it. My images would obviously still be presented in a collage as having them in a collage would not lose the true essence of this assignment. So originality was there in terms of photographing members in my family and presenting them in a collage, however the facial expressions were all different. I used to have a family of 4 but three years ago, my dad passed away due to cancer and now, it is just me, my mum and my brother. I chose present all four members in the collage as that to me shows completeness and security. Everyone in this collage does supposedly have a smile on their faces but

are they really happy?!

Therefore, the entire purpose of my take of this assignment to show the audience that some people, in fact I think everyone tends to portray that they’re really happy with their lives or current situation that they are in but really “inside” only they know what pain and hardship they are going through. Although, I may be wrong; maybe not everyone might be putting on that fake smile and maybe some people are actually content with their lives indeed.

I chose these 3 images of myself, my brother and my mum to show how life is like for us as a family now and the image at the bottom left is of a complete family and it shows what a dream looks like to the three of us as when someone dies, you’re never able to see them again.

“How to smile through your pain: Us 4…”

I chose this  title because its so relevant to the people in this collage. Everyone may be smiling but they are all experiencing different kinds of pain and if you save this image and zoom in to look closer, you can actually see the sadness in their eyes.

fotorcreated

I know you guys must be thinking, why have I arranged my photographs in this particular order and why have I chosen these photographs and not anything else…

Well, there is a simple reason for this and I am going to document the reason why these photographs are there and why in this order. As you can see on the top left, it is a photograph of my mum. I chose to put my mum’s photograph first in the collage because she is now the “head”and “breadwinner” of our family, without her, there is no stability, our mum is the backbone. The next after my mum is my brother and I chose to put him before me because he has innocence on his face whereas I look a lot more mature than him.

“If my mum is the backbone of the family then my brother is the light of the family” .

Next in the collage is obviously me and from my facial expressions I look pretty stressed. I chose to put my picture at the bottom right because even though my facial expressions look pretty stressed and upset but they also tell the audience that I have got everything together. If it wasn’t for me, I think there would be no motivation in my household.

AND the final picture is of us 4 as a family, I chose this picture because its actually the only decent picture we have together as a family. I quite like it, we all look so happy and it seems like we don’t need an extra person as we are already complete as a family.

Honestly, I wouldn’t change these photographs or the arrangement in this collage at all because I think it fits so perfectly with my story, even if you start from the bottom left, the story will end as my mum being the breadwinner of the family. So you can “read” the collage either way, top left to bottom left or bottom left to top left, this collage will make perfect sense to anyone.

Got really emotional over there, didn’t we?!

Now, everything comes down to how did I manage to create a collage like this, have I made it from scratch or was everything already provided to me through a collage generator and all I had to do was import my photographs into it and add text.

For those of you who do not know what a collage is, the dictionary definition of a collage is provided in the link below:

Definition of a collage: A collage is a technique of composing a work of art by pasting on a single surface, materials not normally associated with one another.

Basically, in simpler terminology,  a collage is a series of different photographs or any other materials such as newspapers to make one big image and the 4 images above is a perfect example of different photographs coming and connecting together to make a collage.

I didn’t make my collage from scratch on photo creating and editing tool such as Photoshop, I went through a much simpler route and I used a collage generator called  Fotor.com.

Creating a collage on this website is so easy, all you have to do is choose which provided layout you’re going to choose, I chose the classic layout because it worked better for my photographs and the kind of text I wanted to include. The link below shows the layout and editing set up for this collage generator:

Lets make a collage!

Once you have decided what layout you are going to use as you can see is in the options that are easily provided to you in the navigation bar.

This website also allows you to include text on absolutely anywhere on the collage, importing images is also very easy to do, you just click the “open” tab near the top of the screen and the files you want to import from your computer will come up. Literally, Fotor.com is so easy to use, even a 10 year old would be able to easily make a collage. If you’d like a little bit of a challenge then create a collage from scratch from an editing software in which you start off by using a trial then eventually get a monthly membership of. If you are familiar with how to use Adobe Photoshop then by all means create a new document and experiment the different tools and blending options for example. Sometimes with Photoshop, all it takes is a lot of experimentation and watching a lot of YouTube tutorials:

How to make a high quality collage on Photoshop..

When deciding which to route take, all you have to do is compare the two so compare the online web tool with a creative editing tool called Photoshop. Famous media theorists, Jones and Hafner introduces the theory of affordances and constraints. Affordances and constraints generally happens which you have to decide which tool is the best to use so compare the two, affordances (what are the pros?) and constraints (what are the cons?) and whichever tool has the least constraints is probably the best tool to use. Jones and Hafner argue that there are four ways  media can exert control over us. The first is on the basis of  “affordances and constraints” that different forms of media has to offer. According to them,

“different tools make some actions more possible and other actions less possible.”

Routledge (2015) Understanding digital Literacies: Available at: http://routledgetextbooks.com/textbooks/_author/jones-9780415673150/resources.php (Accessed: 27 February 2017).

So for example, the online collage generator not only enables people to easily create a collage but it also allows them to easily share the completed collage onto social media whereas the constraints of Photoshop is that everything including the layout, the text, the font (font is selected in Photoshop after clicking on the text tool), photographs and colour has to be created from scratch and in terms of easily sharable, you have to export your completed collage or whatever it is that you have made as a jpeg file and then physically go onto Facebook for example and post it yourself over there. With that being said, Photoshop has a lot of affordances whilst Fotor.com has a lot constraints such as:

  • With Photoshop, everything from the ideas, creativity and final product is entirely up to the you (the producer), so for example, Photoshop not only allows you to import your own photograph but it also allows you to change the brightness or hue and saturation or even the blending options on the same photograph. That’s Photoshop’s major affordance, you can create absolutely anything from a dot to a huge canvas. Everything on Photoshop can be entirely yours.
  • Whereas the constraints of an online web generator is that if you’re not on the upgraded version then you are so constricted with using with what you’ve got on the page. For example, some people may want more layouts than the classic layout but because it is not a creative editing software, people are so constricted. Although you can choose and decide the colour of your font but other than that, the online generator does not allow you to create anything from scratch. So if you are a perfectionist or want something new or even want create a larger effect on the audience then I suggest, Photoshop is probably the best tool to use in terms of creating a collage.

Just watch a few YouTube tutorials if you don’t know how to use Photoshop, nowadays the world revolves around YouTube. Its all about discovering and uploading new videos but guess what, its completely user generated and that is such a good thing as it gives everyone freedom on what to upload. However, even though YouTube is a user generated tool, there are restrictions on their too, for instance if certain videos include copyright or inappropriate things then YouTube will have it removed straight away.

Take a look at this YouTube Photoshop tutorial, this should help you if you are struggling with Photoshop:

The affordances and constraints of tools influence what we can do but do not determine what we can do. (JR)

Routledge (2015) Understanding digital Literacies: Available at: http://routledgetextbooks.com/textbooks/_author/jones-9780415673150/resources.php (Accessed: 27 February 2017).

Everything about affordances and constraints link into digital literacies and Jones and Hafner’s digital literacies shows the ability to do certain things such as it not only shows what kind of person you are and how your product relates to other people and ideas but it also has the ability to encode and decode meaning. For example, this completed collage does encode and decode meaning but it also creates connection with the rest of the world in some kind of way. Some people may look at this collage and without any words need, they’d be able to connect to the images itself as they may be experiencing a similar life or experience in relation to these photographs or maybe this collage may not provoke a connection; it may just enable some people to have a sense of empathy instilled in them.

It’s all about different interpretations and how different things link up, really!

“‘Literacies’ involve understanding the affordances and constraints of different tools and being able to exploit them in creative ways”.

Routledge (2015) Understanding digital Literacies: Available at: http://routledgetextbooks.com/textbooks/_author/jones-9780415673150/resources.php (Accessed: 27 February 2017).

Another major constraint of using an online collage generator is that with provided things, people tend to be lazy and forget how to do basic things.

Affordances: how digital technologies are making things better. Constraints: how digital technologies are making things worse. anyone can become an artist or a photographer using digital technologies but people are forgetting how to spell/use basic grammar (your and you’re).

Take a look at this article, this should give you another reason as to why you should not completely indulge yourself in digital technologies. Yes, use them by all means but always remember your basics.

forgetting to spell : oh Jesus!

Got a bit technical there didn’t we?!

To be fair, after looking into the detail of affordances, constraints and digital literacies; if I have to do this assignment again, I’d challenge myself and go through the harder way of creating everything from scratch. I do like the layout of this completed collage but I think may the individual photographs could be slightly edited, the background could be changed and the text could be a bit more exciting. Also I think I would pay more attention to detail and perfection as I making everything myself.

If you found the “Jones and Hafner” discussion interesting and want to know a little bit more about their theories and what the think digital technologies as a whole then take look at the link below:

Jones and Hafner

Oh Yeah, here is the link for my completed collage on the ds106 twitter page with the hashtag “VisualAssignments”

My Collage

That’s it for now guys, I will be back with even more detailed and fun assignments. Hope you all have enjoyed reading this. Please comment, like, share and follow me on

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Love x

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