I wrote a blog post not long ago about my self-portrait assignment for Element's of Fine Art Class. I've taken a few more photographs since then. This is my favorite one. I was never acrobatic or any type of dancer, so this is probably as close as I will ever get.
This quarter at school I'm taking a drawing class. Now I haven't taken a formal drawing class since high school, but it hasn't been too intimidating. It's a bit different for many of my fellow photography student's though...
Not surprisingly most of them say they can't draw. That's why they take photographs instead. Why should they have to learn how to draw when they are studying photography? Well we all know that its because it helps strengthen your eye's sense of composition and line and space and yada yada yada.
I mean, we all get freaked out when we're put in a situation where we have to perform tasks we've never done before. Even if its just a drawing I class. So sometimes we say that what we're doing is pointless and that our time could better be spent elsewhere. But you know, it never hurts to try something different.
For homework I had to draw 20 quick sketches of my hand. Naturally by the time I got to the 20th sketch I wanted to chop off my hand, but I went back and looked at my first sketches and compared them to my last sketches and found that they had actually improved. It was pretty neat to see progress right there in front of me like that. Maybe I'll try some similar photography exercises if I have time. (haha, time!)
Below I have my first page of hand sketches and my last page of hand sketches. In case you didn't believe me.
So this was my first page.
And this was my last page.
For another class assignment I had to shoot some self-portraits over the weekend. Now I find that many photographers fit into two categories, they either feel comfortable taking photos of themselves or they don't. Some people fall in the middle, but in the majority of my classes students can either punch out portraits of themselves like a facebook status or they absolutely dread even the thought of making themselves vulnerable to their own artistic eye. I seem to fall in to the former. I've done a few self-portrait assignments so by now I've gotten over the heeby-jeevies of looking at myself in a photograph. (kind of)
The project isn't due for a little bit so I'm going to try to reshoot this upcoming weekend. I want to get the lighting better and actually go into the studio instead of using tiny tungsten lights I can scrounge up in my apartment.
For my project I'm trying to show different aspects of myself using expressions, body language, and colorful, mixed lighting. I want to give the viewer the idea that I am a person with layers. (like an onion with Ogres, Disney reference anyone?) I think I'm on my way there but I want to definitely tweak the lighting, work on my expressions, and perhaps show more of myself to add more impact with body language. Lets hope all goes well!
Soooo.... I'm not a nature photographer. I'm really not. Honestly? I could spend hours looking through a book of portraits but maybe only 15 minutes looking through a book of landscapes. Not to offend any landscape photographers out there. But for now it's just not my thing.
That being said I do often times go outside with my camera on a nice day and take some photographs. Actually, not having the pressure to produce breath-taking landscape photographs takes away all the responsibility and leaves all the fun. I get to run around the outskirts of campus and not worry about whether anyone will like my photographs or not. I'm doing it just for myself.
As you can guess I didn't get many keepers today. Here are two I think are kind of nice though. If you are interested in landscape photography you probably already know about Art Wolfe. He's a phenomenal photographer that takes beautiful nature photographs among other subjects. His website is www.artwolfe.com. I would suggest checking it out no matter what kind of photography you're interested in.
A simple portrait or two. That's basically what my first assignment of the quarter was about. I'm taking an Elements of Fine Art course and our first assignment was to spend an hour with a random classmate and take some portraits. Now many of us knew our fellow students having been in previous classes together. But the person that I got to take a portrait of I actually never met before. An hour after meeting her for the first time in class, these portraits were made.
Some students thought that this assignment was a little amateur. More like an assignment for the freshman class. But I quite enjoyed it. As photographers people expect us to meet someone for the first time, spend some time with them, and come away with cool portraits. That skill is very valuable and will come in handy an endless amount of times. Even if some of those times have nothing to do with photography.
I am currently back at Rochester Institute of Technology for Spring quarter. I'm continuing my education in Advertising photography and Applied Imaging Systems.
For years there has been an ongoing debate about going to school for photography. Many wonder if its worth the investment. There's no doubt that with a lot of hard work and a creative eye, photography can be self taught. Others argue that doors will be open easier if you have that degree to back it up. I'm sure the same discussion comes up with other creative majors like animation, graphic design and Illustration. But honestly I don't know much about those, I only know about what its like to go to college for photography. And this is what I've figured out.
For me it was a good choice. Why? Not because I'm not a hard worker and I don't have a drive to become a professional without an education. But for a few reasons. One, is that I can take some time to really explore the different kinds of photography I can choose to focus on or not focus on. I used to be a photojournalism major, which I enjoyed. But I found out that ad-based work, specifically portraiture, was a better fit for me and something I wanted to focus on. Some choose the fine art route, while others learn that they aren't cut out for the competitive shooting-based job market and switch to photo technology or retouching. The second reason is the fast rate at which you can improve. Attending a school that is known for their photography program gives you the chance to be taught be great professors that aren't afraid to tell you what they like-and don't like- about your work. Constantly creating more work for teachers that expect your work to be at a certain quality makes you improve really fast and pushes you to figure things out in a timely manner. The last reason also has to do with improving, but its not about the professors, its about your fellow students. The fact is that you will be learning next to students that are better than you. Sometimes A LOT better than you. And being around people that are better than you makes you want to be better too. There's nothing like a little competition to keep you motivated to create great art. Also, making friends in your classes can turn into a network of professionals that could last your entire career. If you ever need help, references, or even a job, you have a group of people WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY that can possibly help you out.
So that's my two cents about going to school for photography. Obviously its not for everyone, and the reasons I gave could apply to many different majors out there. But if your thinking about it these are just some of the many things to keep in mind.
Have you ever wanted to be the fly on the wall? You know, to listen in on a cool conversation or watch someone work and see how they do what they do? I feel like as photographers when we are younger we are very curious about the experienced pro's. How do they do what they do? How did they get that shot? How did they handle that situation? What made them decide to do it like this?
It's a tough world out there so any kind of knowledge or secrets we can scrounge up is always welcome. It probably goes with any profession. It's just human nature. Maybe that's why I like to visit chasejarvis.com. Chase Jarvis is a photographer living in Seattle that has a very unique website. Yes, his website shows his portfolio and his commercial work and all that good stuff, but it's also an excellent resource for aspiring photographers that want to follow a professional and what he does, how he does it, and what his results are. His blog is constantly filled with articles related to the photography world. Whether it be business, creative tips, real-world advice, tech announcements, or updates on what he's shooting. Right now he's shooting a campaign for Aspen/Snowmass with blog and video updates each day he's out working.
And while it's really cool to watch a professional work his magic on a photo shoot. I think it's even cooler to watch someone just create. To see how there mind works and what they are thinking. To watch someone do something that you never thought of. It's pretty cool. So while this post was kind of a plug for chasejarvis.com. It's also about finding someone that inspires you and watching them be creative and innovative and work at something they love. And hopefully that inspires you to be creative and innovative and work at something you love.
One of the reasons I like RIT as a school is that it is very career oriented-even when it comes to art. The professors try to teach you about the business while they are encouraging you to become a better photographer. They also have a great career center that will help you out with interviews, resumés, and job hunting.
I'm a firm believer though, that you should use multiple resources to learn anything, so lately I've been checking out virtualphotographystudio.com. They have some pretty informative articles about pricing, marketing, blogging, and other business-related topics. Nothing replaces hands-on experience, but getting some tips certainly couldn't hurt.
I'm sure many of you have heard of a "happy accident". You know, where you accidently do something wrong but somehow the end result comes out so... right. Those moments can be incredibly inspirational when they do happen. And rather than write it off as a mistake or a fluke. I think people should pay more attention to "happy accidents" and think about why they work.
Often times we can get caught up in the same old routine. Especially in photography. We know what works, it's doing well, so we'll just keep chugging away until... I don't know... whenever. But every once and a while something will happen. Maybe we decide to try something different, or maybe fate has decided to give us something in the form of an "accident" which turns out to be just what we need to boost our creativity and do something different.
If your printer profile turns out terrible but it gives the photograph a cool effect, why not print it and see if it works? If you accidently ran out of water color paints and only have acrylic, why not try mixing them together on the same canvas? These things may sound silly but honestly why not just see what happens?
I printed out a small 4 x 5 image of a still life I did for class out of my crappy printer I had in my college apartment and amazingly... it turned out really cool looking. It was too yellow, the saturation was completely off and there were vertical lines through out the ink on the paper.
But something about it worked. Maybe I'll start printing from that printer a little more often.
...A fresh new blog. A new place to spread, share, and create ideas. That's why we read blogs right? Besides the whole being-connected-to-one-another thing.
I met a man once that was scared of things like this. Blank pages, new blogs, a piece of paper with nothing on it. He said that it was nerve wracking. You know what you need or want to write but you have no idea how to start. You think about what others will say, you think about all the writing lessons you learned in school, you think of the tips and do's and don'ts that other, wiser people have given you.
I am the opposite however, I like blank pages, new things. It's the opportunity to continue to perfect your first impression. You know, the first impression that you've been trying to get right ever since you were little. Every time you have an opportunity to give a first impression you think to yourself. "What did I do right last time?... Oh! I shouldn't do that thing again because it made everyone think I was awkward and weird..."
But life goes on, and eventually everyone gets a chance to create a new impression that will hopefully make others believe we are flawless and interesting. So here is mine.