Man vs. Nature?
The last class for my Photography II course is tomorrow. These past 9 weeks have flown by and I’m sad the class is ending. Of course, I am registered for Photo III, but I’ve got to wait 5 weeks until it starts! As I’ve written previously, the instructor of these courses is all about helping students develop our own eye. She doesn’t teach composition or principles of “what makes a good photograph.” Her pedagogical model is a perfect fit for me, someone seeking her own creativity, own voice, own eye.
This term’s class has focused on various techniques–learning how to really alter depth of field, using hyperfocal focus, and playing with spatial relationships. We have an assignment each week where we take photographs using the specific technique just learned in class. Often, we have been limited to only shooting in our backyard, our instructor emphasizing that the content of a photo isn’t what makes a great photo great. Every week, we shoot 36 photos with NO deletions–like replicating shooting a roll of film. We then get these photos professionally printed with NO corrections and bring them to class. Then, we choose 8 to show. We walk around, looking at one another’s work, listening to our instructor’s feedback. I have appreciated learning from others’ work and seeing how each of us in the class really does have a different eye and point of view. It has been scary and courage-building to put my work out there. And I’ve loved it.
For the last class tomorrow, we weren’t asked to shoot a new “roll” of 36. The assignment was to look back on all of the photos we’ve shot for the class, and from those, choose our 8 “strongest,” the ones we keep coming back to, the ones we love, or the ones that stand out in some way. As if that wouldn’t be challenging enough, we also had to put these 8 into a cohesive sequence. And, we had to give the sequence a title.
This task has been quite challenging. I can fairly easily pull out my favorite photos–I liked some assignments better than others, some techniques better than others, so culling the shots from the class that I come back to repeatedly wasn’t so hard. As an aside, it was interesting to see that all the photos I selected came from only 2 different assignments. The harder part came when I had to sequence them. Many of the photos I chose just didn’t fit together in a cohesive way. So I had to carefully edit those out and keep ones that did seem to flow in some manner. This was HARD. I really love some of the photos that weren’t keepers for this assignment. Then working on a title for the final 8 was even HARDER. I felt like there was some flow to the photos, but I found it elusive to completely articulate. I could feel themes of color, of depth of field, of lines. But in some ways, I couldn’t quite put my finger on how or why I felt or saw these photos fitting toether.
While I was journaling yesterday morning, a title came to me: “Man vs. Nature.” I don’t love it, but I think that’s what I’m going with. It seems to capture the man-made, metal objects and juxtapose them with the natural, earth-made. I’m anxious and excited to show these tomorrow in class, and I nervously await the instructor’s thoughtful comments. I’ll keep you posted.
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