Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Month of FotoFactory Projects...

I had my first 'Class' for the 3 year photography program at the FotoFactory on October 3rd. Originally we were supposed to begin on September 19th....but the course requires a minimum of 9 students and we only had 6. While 5 'Possible' students are trying to get their finances together, The director of the school decided to start the course with a month of projects. So that's what I've been busy with.
On the 3rd of October we were given an ''Assignment book' which included 6 assignments that need to be completed and presented on November 7th...our next meeting.

The Assignments:

PP-01 A tour of Amsterdam where specific photos need to be taken at certain points
PP-03 Make a reconstruction of a photo in the assignment book
PP-04 Present a 'Photo Project' which will take place over the next 6 months
PP-05 Make a portrait of yourself that is recognizable, bring in 13x 18 print
PP-06 A photo Diary. Take one photo every day for 3 weeks, expressing an emotion or feeling

Bring contact sheets of ALL photos taken between October 3 and 7th, as well as all photo prints which have been developed. Projects need to be presented professionally.

Phew! Enough to keep me busy on evenings and weekends.

And these are my results...

PP-01 A tour of Amsterdam where specific photos need to be taken at certain points

You can see the photos here, but an overview of the assignment:
  • Begin at Central Station and take 5 photos contrasting the construction with the old buildings,
  • Walk to the Zeedijk and take 5 photos of the chinese influence in the area
  • Have lunch in a chinese restaurant and take a photo before and after of your meal
  • Take photos of 3 people eating in the restaurant, trying to capture the atmosphere
  • Ask how your meal was made and try to get the recipe
  • Walk along the Warmoesstraat and take pictures of conspciuous things
  • Go to the Stock Exchange and take a portrait of a worker there, then ask the Euro dollar exchange rate
  • Walk along the kalverstraat and take pictures of 3 trends
  • Go to Cafe Hoppe on the Spui and take 2 pictures inside which show the incident lighting in the cafe
  • Go to the Leidseplein and take pictures of 3 people with Blue Coats
  • Go to the Van Gogh museum and try to take a photo of a painting that speaks to you, gather background information
Overall, I completed the assignment, literally...but with little inspiration and imagination. ONe of my problems: I'm too literal. If I am assigned X then I will complete X. What I need to do is drop below the surface and dig more interesting with my view and what I am supposed to do. Move beyond my own borders.
The assignment was interesting in that it forces you to really put yourself out there, which I failed to do. I didn't feel confident enough (or perhaps it was awake enough...) to ask for the recipe to my lunch. I did stop someone in front of the Stock Exchange and asked him if I could take his photo and he was good.
On the Kalverstraat I had to take photos of 3 trends. I probably should have made portraits of 'Fashionably' dressed people...but I did it more sneakily. Another learning moment. Dare to ask! My photos probably would have been more interesting. I also find that when I am forced to 'impose' upon people I don't know, I get nervous and try to get the shot quickly, usually at the expense of the composition. Definitely need to work on that...And my critical eye. Don't just meet expectations...exceed them.

PP-02 Read On Photography by Susan Sontag and Ways of Seeing by John Berger
Taking photographs is more than that...taking photos. The essays from Susan Sontag are a review of the history of photography as well as how the role of camera and the photographer have changed through the years. What does an image represent? Is it art? And how has the role of the photographer evolved over the last century? Active or passive observer? What kind of influence do images have on our view of things. Things which, I suppose are obvious when you think about them, but how often do you think about them? A more deeper meaning to what I am doing, I suppose.

PP-03 Make a reconstruction of a photo in the assignment book
This was a difficult one, probably made more difficult by my tendancy to overthink. I looked at the photo, and looked and looked. I had a hard time figuring out the correct angle from which to photography, how to get the lighting right, etc etc. I took a few frustrating test shots...angle wasn't right, shadowing incorrect, lighting in the wrong place... blah blah blah. I was working myself into a state...then my husband came in and calmed me down, told me to take a break and I had an epiphany of sorts; Stop trying to do it all in one shot! I took a break, then set lighting and composition aside to focus on the correct angle from which to shoot the photo. I had a suspicion from the beginning that this 'recreation' was really an excercise in Photoshop...and I think I was correct. In the end I took the shot at a sort of correct angle, then adjusted the image to black and white, fixed the contrast and...Bob's you're uncle! I came pretty close to the original.

Here's my attempt:

Not 100% of the original ...the light on the knife and the hand aren't correct...but I feel like I'm getting closer. Recreating a photos is about the elements of it; light, composition, shadows, etc...but you don't have to tackle all of those elements at the same time (like layers in photoshop...). Another learning point!

PP-04 Present a 'Photo Project' which will take place over the next 6 months
Originally my concept was about pregnancy...something like taking a photo of myself every week. But after consideration...while that may be interesting to me, I need to look deeper. I now have a gagillion ideas...but I will have to narrow them down...

PP-05 Make a portrait of yourself that is recognizable, bring in 13x 18 print

Another tricky one. Have you every really taken a photo of yourself that you liked? I find that to be a difficult concept. Trying not to be so vain and to convey the things about myself that I think are important I took over 300 photos. In the end I narrowed it down to two:

I like the composition of this photo and the way the light falls on my face. It wasn't easy to get in and out of the hammock to set the camera, but worth it.

This is my favorite of the self-portrait's, because it's the only photo I have with Pebbles and myself. I've taken hundreds (literally!) of her alone,but I'm never in the photo with her. She doesn't like to be picked up, but she looks pretty comfortable in my arms. I love her rabbit foot sticking up and the way she's looking curiously into the lens . She's adorable!

I posted a few of my other self-portrait attempts on flickr...

PP-06 A photo Diary. Take one photo every day for 3 weeks, expressing an emotion or feeling
This one was interesting. How do you express how you are feeling? Through symbolism? Movement? Words, actions? I spend a lot of time with my cats (as sad as that is..) and I find them to be very expressive of my own mood sometimes. But I was looking for something grittier than a clear photo of something. At the beginning of the assignment I bought a Mini-Diana lomo camera ( you can see the complete set here). I really enjoyed taking photos with it. So as not to put all my eggs in one basket I also took digital photos in parallel. It gave me a nice selection when I was putting them all together in a book. I enjoyed having my camera with me all the time (which, to be honest I usually do...) and I did take A LOT of extra photos because of it...

All in all, this past month has been an interesting experience. I did learn a lot...especially that I have a lot to learn! There are a lot of boundries I have to cross to get to where I want to be as a photographer and to develop myself and my eye. It has been tough to combine the time to 'study' with a job (thank goodness I only work 4 days!), but the thing is, I loved it! I studied, planned, completed assignments in my own time and really enjoyed it AND I, queen of Procrastination (I'm famous for starting papers in University the day they were due), completed several assignments AHEAD OF SCHEDULE! I actually planned a timeline for when I needed to complete projects and stuck to it. Wow, who knew? Lets see how long this enthusiasm lasts. But for now, I can safely say that after years of getting lost and following wrong directions and incorrectly reading maps....I'm finally on the right path.


skrafki said...

the trip from the central station to the van gogh museum was the hardest assignment in whole year to me ;) wish You luck ! :) are You in english group of 3 yaear course ?

Lori's Lens said...

Yes, just started the English 3 year course, Year 1. And I agree the trip from CS to van Gogh was the hardest. So much to learn!