Friday, April 3, 2009

Critiquing Critiques

Spent six hours putting together this week's contact sheet. Got dick for feedback. It'd be ok with me if this was the first time this happened this semester, or even this month. But its not. I am trying my hand at a form of photography that doesn't come naturally to me, therefore criticism is important.

I've realized that there are far too many inflated egos in the photo lab. It is like everyone is treading on eggshells when it comes to critiquing work. And that may be fine for some people (those who wish to collect their kudos and go to dinner). This week's contact sheet was not particularly good. It did not have many, if any, complete images on it- the sky was clipped, the angles were awkward, and all of the images were gray. Not a single person mentioned any of these things. In fact not a single person mentioned much of anything at all.

I liken it to a game of pickup basket ball. If your playing with a guy who is new to the sport they tend to double dribble, travel, take shitty shots, or make horrible passes. However, most of the more experienced players on the court refrain from teaching them the right way to play because they are either too lazy, too egotistical (think that they are above playing with a newbie), or they fear the recipient's reaction will be too defensive. I get all of these vibes during a critique.

Personally, I'd rather be called out on every minor mistake I make. Its the only way I'll ever improve. I'm working towards the realization of an idea which, I'm not ashamed to admit, I am nowhere close to completing. I need all feedback I can get.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bustin' Shots

There has been a storm cloud positioned over my head this whole semester. Shooting pictures of Worcester has been a goal of mine for a long time now. It just hasn't been as fulfilling as I thought it would. Basically, I haven't enjoyed myself. Producing images last semester was more fun then I had anticipated and I hoped the joy would carry over. But its tough. I was having trouble with every aspect of my work. So this week I reconsidered what it was that made my previous photographic forays fun and set out to recreate those experiences in a new environment. And then I saw it, perched atop Vernon Hill, shimmering in the daylight like a beacon of hope, glistening blue, radiating promise. So I climbed into the rubble of a semi-demolished hospital wing. Immediately the surge of excitement hit me and I felt compelled to take pictures, as opposed to forcing my self to do so. I've found that the more natural it feels on location the better the results. This may be a no-brainer but it is a component that has been missing in my endeavors as of late. I've also felt a refreshed sense of motivation. It compels me to learn more and absorb everything. So what am I going to do with these new urges? Learn to pick locks. I'm a rebel.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Special Bulletin

Excerpted from the esteemed Telegram and Gazette: "This past week the Pope of Wormclown made his first official visit to the tiny island of Jamaica. The trip marked the Papacy's fourth excursion the Caribbean. This historic event was marked by emotionally charged meetings with top religious, social, and horticultural figures in the Jamaican community. As the week drew to a close the Pope convened an impromptu interview. 'Jamaicans are a vibrant and animated people' he said ' I just wish that they would stop trying to sell me tee-shirts.'e"

The Jamaican experience alternated between relaxing, stressful, and all-encompassing bliss. The first day I arrived there I was so overwhelmed by the bustle, the colors, and new atmosphere that I couldn't even comprehend taking photos. As I settled into my surroundings my attitude changed. All I wanted to do was shoot. Where at first I had been wary of taking my camera out in public at all, by the end of the trip I was walking around with a strobe and a second lens. Shooting with accessories or even a wide-angle lens was a new experience for me. By the end of vacation I became a much more confident photographer hoping to put my new gains to use here in the WOO.

I liked this picture of the church because I was able to grab some of the beautiful color of the sky, which was usually too bright to accurately depict. I fell in love with the intersection of the lines in the foreground which I felt complemented the semi-crooked palm tree and the stark church. Ideally though I would have liked some separation between the church and the tree.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Collage of Cardinal Ideas

So I have my concept-attempting to juxtapose Worcesterites with local scenery as a way to illuminate the different envrionments unique to each neighborhood. It is my goal to produce fully realized images of at least ten different areas of the city within the frames of my very vague concept. First step, identify the areas that will yield these images. I have come up with a short list of ideas and locations that might get me started:

Orthodox Jews walking to temple- Pleasant St.
Lawyers/businessmen commuting- Downtown
Vietnamese Community- Main St.
Restaurants Opening- Water/Shrewsbury Sts.
Various High Schools at the end of the day

These are things I hope will jump start my overall project. More ideas on how to portray the various communities will hopefully present themselves as I work on capturing these images.

Another feat I am hoping to tackle is the architecture of Worcester. Namely, how to present it less lamely. I have been doing some reasearch on architecture photography and theories of design and perspective that may aid me. All told, however, I need to focus more on the act of taking photgraphs and spend a little less time on whether I am doing it right. Practice, after all, makes perfect.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Worcester a.k.a The Heart of the Commonwealth a.k.a Medicority Incarnate

I've decided upon a theme for this semester. I call it "Structure and Caricature", because everyone is afforded their 15 minutes of pretentiousness. Its in the 8th amendment. I feel very strongly about the concept of this project. I can almost envision what a successful picture would look like in this context. Almost.

I first had this as a fleeting thought that I gave no real weight. Creatively, Worcester is a motherfucking nightmare, especially to someone who has 22 years of desensitizing citizenship under his belt. The idea took shape like all of my ideas do: I first decided what I disliked. I disliked the idea of doing street photography because invariably it becomes a muddled mess of nutballs, nutcases, nincompoops, wanksters, hicks, and douche bags, And though I wanted to do a study of Worcesterites discounting the aforementioned categories leaves me painfully little to work with. I also didn't want to shoot solely inanimate objects such as duplexes, triple deckers, decrepit abandoned buildings, etc. But I want to incorporate the architecture and, dare I say, the layout of Worcester's neighborhoods. Then I realized that Worcester folk are nothing without their background just as Worcester structures are nothing with out Worcester folk. Thus I have aspired to mesh the two in a semi-palatable manner. Good luck to me.

The other day, as I posted up illegally at the spot, I came across a tome of M.C. Escher's works. The pages illuminated the process he took to finally conceive the images that made him famous. At times he worked intensely on mundane geometrical patterns to understand their place within the grander scheme. Other times he did case studies on reflection, perspective, and other natural details. His methodology paid off in spades. Looking at just one of his most famous pieces, one can see how the independently, intensely researched factors became a unified thought and finally a fully realized product.

Looking through the book I discovered the perfect way to bullshit an excuse for my crap-ass photos. Extremely pleased with myself, I repeated my story over and over until, all of a sudden, I had a revelation. I don't need M.C. Escher to pad my bullshit. I can do that all on my own. Its a gift and a curse really, but mostly a gift. My mother always said I was gifted. But thats neither here nor there.

So I took a cruise. Kanye West is fond of saying "Drive Slow, Homie", and I like his sunglasses so I decided to give it a shot. I saw an intense amount of color in Worcester which varied by neighborhood and which was as distinct as the architecture itself. I envisioned using Worcester as a palate to paint a picture of life in this mediocre city. So I groped my camera (don't worry we have that type of relationship) and said "Composition be damned" hoping that the simple act of recording these colors and their juxtaposition would push me in a new direction. It hasn't worked yet but I'm beginning to tingle with confidence. Hopefully, I will be able to systematically turn bullshit into gold. I believe that deserves a Nobel Prize or something.

The next step is to find the characters that tell the story and then to mesh it all together. We shall see where this goes...