Five Photo Narrative

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Course Evaluation

I found this course to be very informative for a novice photographer. I learned a great deal and it helped further me as an artist. Professor D’s style of teaching is very quick paced and hands on. She has a tremendous passion for her craft and it’s apparent in her teaching style. I really enjoyed the numerous field trips in which the entire class would meet off campus for a shoot. These helped provide new areas for us to explore and really brought us together as a class.

The Discovery Lake photoshoot was probably my favorite field trip. I found the back drop very rich and diverse. It is a very nature centric area that exists just minutes from campus. This particular shoot yielded my favorite photographs from this class.

I also really enjoyed the various documentaries we had to watch about different photographers. Learning about Richard Avedon and Ansel Adams really helped me understand photography as an art form. It opened my eyes to the possibilities that surround me every day.

I feel that all of the projects we did for this class were beneficial. I do, however, believe that the Blurb book project was a little rushed. I had a great deal of trouble navigating In Design and exporting my book properly so that it could be published with the proper format. I believe we should have spent more time covering In Design and the specificity needed to be able to use Blurb. Eventually, I was able to figure everything out, but it definitely could’ve gone smoother.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the format of this class. I learned a great deal and feel that I am a better artist for it. I really have a much better grasp on photography and a tremendous respect for the people who dedicate their lives to it.

Proposal

Prior to this class I had very little experience or interest in photography. My primary knowledge came through filmmaking, yet my functional camera skills were lacking tremendously. Since then, I have begun to understand, albeit on a rudimentary level, the fundamentals of photography. It has opened up a whole new world to me in terms of art and expression. I continuously see new scenes unfolding and have started thinking photographically. The different styles and formats that we’ve covered have even diversified my visual thinking in regards to film. I now try to carry a camera with me everywhere I go, and often find that I wish I had one when I don’t. It’s really opened me up as an artist and it may turn into a new passion.

I found one of the areas we covered really spoke to me about where we live. Growing up in the Midwest, I was used to vast agricultural landscapes that proceeded unchanged in every direction for hundreds of miles. The rich green springs and summers provided much beauty, while the contrasting whites of winter, though bleak, provided their own calming beauty. Moving to California at 22 placed me in a new environment with much more diversity in landscape. The desert climate provided an entirely new floral and fauna scene while the diverse topography of the region takes you from sea level to several thousand feet in a relatively short distance. I fell in love with diversity of my new home and continue to enjoy the unique views daily. For these reasons, I will be documenting the diverse beauty found in our environment through panoramic photography.

At this moment in time, our civilization stands on a precipice. Climate change is already reshaping our world and it is just beginning. It is important that we continue to document our environment so that future generations can see this change happening over time. Panoramic photography captures a large area and can provide a glimpse at some of the diverse beauty that surrounds us, while indefinitely suspending a moment in time.

The primary focus of this piece is beauty. This will be done mostly through landscape photography, which shows the diversity of our surroundings, but the heart of every photo will be beauty. Watching the Ansel Adams video really opened my eyes to several things. First was the artistic manner in which he approached his work. He considered himself an artist above everything and it is thoroughly demonstrated in his work. This is how I intend to approach this project. I really want to showcase our home the way that Adams did with Yosemite Valley.

California is currently in one of the worst droughts in history and our global climate is changing significantly. Accessibility to water in our area may begin to reshape both the human population as well as the entire landscape. Photography has already proven to be a powerful tool in regards to the ever-shrinking glaciers of the world. Having a photographic record allows us to look back at some of them for more than a hundred years. Many of the photos are heartbreaking as we watch mighty glaciers shrink into shells of their former selves. These powerful images have helped reshape people’s minds and influence policy in regards to climate change. I hope to freeze moments in time to preserve the essence of today.

Another important piece of inspiration from Ansel Adams came from being ready at all times. One of his most famous photos, Moonrise Over New Mexico, was shot in a rush as he pulled his car to the side of the road, set up, and snapped the shot just before the sunlight disappeared. He didn’t have time to check his light meter; he just had to go on his instinct and knowledge of his medium. It was an opportunistic moment that was only captured because he was ready. For this project, I’m going to need to constantly have a camera and tripod with me. I’ve already had several instances of seeing something that would make a great shot but I didn’t have any equipment. In order to get what I hope for in this book, I’m going to need to start keeping my camera and tripod next to me at all times. I have to be ready when the opportunity presents itself.

I also hope to use this project to delve into my own psyche. I never expected to love photography as much as I’m beginning to. Panoramic photography has really struck a chord with me. I’ve already had multiple instances of making them for no reason other than my own enjoyment. I really hope to use this project as an opportunity to explore this newfound creative endeavor. It’s hard to say whether my love of panoramas will continue to flourish, or whether this undertaking will extinguish that flame. If I am able to capture a small piece of the beauty that I see daily, I will be satisfied.

Ansel Adams had the ability to capture the essence of his scenes. He could tell you with a photograph exactly how it felt in the moment he snapped the shot. His work doesn’t just suck you in visually; it engages all your senses. You are totally immersed in the scene with him. This is what makes his work so transcendental. I don’t anticipate being able to capture the essence of reality in the same way as him, but I’m looking forward trying. With every shot, I gain a little experience and take another step toward being better. I hope that I can capture a little bit of that same magic with my own lens. His work is inspirational and it has led me to a new appreciation of photography. The ultimate outcome of this project is that I move a little bit closer toward being the artist that I want to be.

Another outcome of this project is to provide a resource for understanding our community. Through continuous documentation of our area, future generations will gain a better understanding of many ecological elements. Even without climate change, factors such as erosion and human development will continue to reshape our world. Photography is a visual medium that allows us to fully understand how time changes everything. My photos can contribute a miniscule, yet important, piece to a much larger puzzle.

I am really looking forward to this project. I have liked photography more and more since this class began. Learning how to make panoramas sucked me in even further. As an artist, I’m always interested in finding new forms of self-expression and ventures like this really help me explore myself. Unfamiliar challenges are always the most rewarding. I’m anxious to start venturing into new areas within myself, as well as in our community. I hope to emerge the on other side with a better understanding of who I am as a person and an artist.

Letters To A Young Artist–Lawrence Weiner

The first line of this letter spoke to me more than anything else in this book. “Art is made from the necessities of a human being not content with the configuration as it is presented to them.” I personally feel that creativity is the greatest human asset and it is what has allowed us to evolve beyond our environment. Our ability to see that which isn’t there and create it is truly what separates us from other species. Creating art as a means of re-configuring our reality seems to be highly evolved in human beings. We are all artists on some level. Even the way we talk, the language we use, the cadence with which we speak are all creative and artistic. In fact, I think they are truly what an artist should strive to be. When we talk, we are re-configuring a myriad of information that we have taken in and are regurgitating it in our own expressive form. While we choose our words as we say them, we are not consciously thinking about the manner in which we are speaking. It is just automatic for the brain. Such is great art. The artist should know what they are trying to say, but the foundation for how they say it is second nature. We are all artists on this planet. It’s just a matter of how we choose to use it.

Letters To A Young Artist–Alex Katz

This letter is very short, but it’s full of good advice. It begins by saying that painting is a social act and develops out of a community. I’d take it a step farther and say that applies to all art. It often feels as though art is purely a personal endeavor. This is absolutely not the case. All art is born out of an individual reflecting the world. If you only look within yourself, your art will be meaningless and uninspired.

Another aspect of this letter is that you should try to expose yourself to art, even if you don’t like or understand it. It is still valuable to attempt to expand your mind into alternative perspectives. This deeper exploration of the world will be evident in your own art. I truly believe that exposure to art is crucial in a personal artistic development.

The final point that this letter makes is that if you fail, at least you learned something. This advice is good for all areas of life. Failure is inevitable. It’s important to get back up and keep trying. Every. Single. Time.

Ansel Adams

Prior to watching the documentary on Ansel Adams, I had little understanding of his impact on the art of photography. My knowledge had largely consisted of him as a nature photographer. After delving further into his life, it’s clear that he was much more than that. Seeing his development as an artist through his photography is amazing. The way that he is able to capture the essence of the moment with his camera is mesmerizing. It is a true artist that can convey what they are feeling through their art.

The beginning of the documentary uses an analogy that I found very poignant. A great poet uses the same dictionary as the rest of us. All the words are there in alphabetical order. They just know how to pick out the right words and put them in the perfect order to create a feeling of awe in the reader. Ansel Adams wrote poetry through the lens of his camera. He didn’t just capture the reality of how something looked, he captured the essence of the moment. It was suggested that you could look at an Ansel Adams photograph and know what the air felt like, the date, the time of day, the temperature, and even the humidity. They were about the ebb and flow of nature. He was capturing this moment in time that is part of a larger ever changing world. It creates a feeling of just how fragile everything is, including mankind. He was a true environmentalist ahead of his time, knowing that those precious areas of nature are delicate and extremely important.

Seeing his evolution as an artist was incredible. Living into his 80’s, there is a rich lifetime of work that can be looked at. His love of Yosemite is extremely well documented. He loved the ability to get away from people and our rapidly evolving industrialized nation. I personally find it ironic that his precious Yosemite is now, largely thanks to him, one of our most visited national parks. It’s now hard to get away even in Yosemite! It is the bittersweet nature of exposing something so precious and personal through your art. Once the world discovers something beautiful, they make it their own.