Monday, January 13, 2014

Assignment #1: Now - Life in 2014

Assignment #1: Now - Life in 2014

The greatest failure is the fear to fail.                                                                                                                                                        – Duane Michals

When you paint, you begin with a white canvas and add elements to build up your image. When you take a photo, you begin with chaos and remove elements from your scene using the creative tools that the camera affords to reduce the scene to your liking. These are very different processes.

Garry Winogrand said, "I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed." 
For this first assignment, you are going to focus (pun intended) on photographic vision and how things look photographed. How do things look through the camera? Do your images match what you envisioned? What creative tools are at your disposable to manipulate the scene?

In order to facilitate that, I am setting up some parameters. For your first roll of film, I would like you to make at least a few photos that could only be taken now. This is to say, they must represent contemporary life in some manner. A guy bicycling while texting would be a good example. Zipcars, electric cars, cafes full of people on their laptops, people walking around with headphones everywhere, etc… Think about fashion, hairstyles, hobbies, drones, etc.. Really, the choices are infinite. 

The remainder of the roll can be used anyway that you want to. You may want to shoot 18 of Now and 18 images of whatever you want. Your call. This first roll of film is due by Wednesday 1/22 as you will need to process it to see how you did.

Ultimately, you will take at least 2 rolls of film for this assignment. You will make two prints gelatin silver prints. The first print will be due TBD. The final critique of the Assignment will be TBD).

Have fun, be creative, and see how far you can push your creativity. Experiment with camera angle, camera position, distance, lighting, time of day, color, lens, shutter speed, aperture, composition, mood, drama, etc. Just be sure you have enough light for proper exposures. Pay attention to the entire frame and aim to create images that are both visually interesting and communicate something about your subject. These photos may be shot indoors or outdoors, or both, but  if you shoot indoors, be sure you have enough light to shoot handheld (otherwise use a tripod or ask me about pushing film to a higher ISO). Plan to explore this theme over a period of time - do not shoot this the day before it’s due!

The trick to this assignment is to meet the requirements of the assignment while still making interesting images. Anyone can go take a photo of a fancy solar powered parking meter. How can you do it an make it interesting?

People should be able to look at your photos and tell they were taken around 2014. 

  • Move away from, and close to, different parts of your subject (physically or through focal length changes)
  • Consider figure/ ground relationships and focus on different parts of the scene to change emphasis
  • Shoot at eye level, crouch down, stand on a ladder, lie on the ground, turn and face different directions
  • Vary the placement of your subject within the frame/ play with the composition in various ways
  • Experiment with different aperture settings and shutter speeds (use a tripod when necessary)
  • Shoot in morning, afternoon, evening & in various weather conditions for different effects
  • Pay attention to the lighting and the mood it creates!  
  • Use props or dress up as necessary. 
  • Recruit your friends to help you.  
  • Look at photos taken from earlier generations. What do you notice?  

Some additional food for thought:

  • What is the significance of shooting B&W film in 2014? 
  • Is it relevant that the images will be shot with film and printed in the darkroom? 
  • How does a grainy B&W representation of modern life come across? Does it make it appear old?

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