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February 6, 2008

The Year Ahead

This year sees me teaching a subject I haven't taught for several years. It is both an easy subject and a hard subject to teach. At my work we call it Folio. It is a subject designed to help students develop conceptual and technical skills in creating a body of work that they may use to either gain employment, or go to further studies. It also exposes them to many more photographers than they would normally see, or look at, and gives them an opportunity to learn to articulate about photographs beyond: "I like this because it worked" or "I took this because it looked beautiful".

At one level this is an incredibly liberating experience it can allow me to free associate and talk at length about what I think photography is and isn't, what is good about it and what I dislike, where I've seen it come from and where I see it going to.

It also relies heavily on the experience, for some of the time anyway, being a 2 way street.

All in all it's going to be a good experience, challenging but good nonetheless. This year I'm expecting folio to impact on what I write and how often I write here, so readers please forgive me if I go off on a tirade or start speaking in jargon. After all what does constitute a good photograph, is there such a thing as a bad photograph, is it important to pay attention to the kinds of details that have long been important in photography like good craft, how important is the substance behind a photograph, should a good photograph hide more than it reveals?

These are some of the questions I hope to encourage my students to contemplate and try and articulate in language and their photographs.

March 2, 2008

Workshop Lecture

Michael Reichmann in AUSTRALIA

Michael Reichmann, runs the well known Lumious Landscape Website. He is giving a workshop demonstration here in Melbourne, sadly I'm not going to be able to make it and probably it is booked out already? Anyway the details are,

Melbourne: Tuesday 4th March 2008
Sponsor: L&P Digital Photographic
Participation fee: $88 or, $66 for AIPP members
For registration and information about venue and time please contact: info@lapfoto.com.au

Something I will be attending is the CCP workshops run by Les Walkling, sometime this year. So much to chose from, though so I'm not sure which one to attend?

On another note, I'm running some workshops in Photoshop again this year, I've changed the format, they now run over 2 Saturdays, if you know someone who would be interested contact me.

June 4, 2008

Food for Thought

As an artist who attempts to educate, I'm faced with many technological conundrums. This esaay, beautifully broken down for reading, on the web, very eloquently articulates many of these conundrums.

[From the art garret]

And to think it was all written in the late 1990's!

June 15, 2010

The top of the bell curve?

Today I'm wearing my educator's hat, indulge me please for a moment.

Because of, or in spite of reaching the end point of the semester with VU and almost the mid year point with PIC, I recently had somewhat of an epiphany, particularly in regards to the learning of camera craft.

Before the predominance of digital cameras, the only way to learn the craft of photography was using a film camera. Schools often chose the hardy and solid Pentax k1000, and many student's relied on these as the cost was too prohibitive to purchase one. Simple, and simply mechanical it demanded you understand how the controls worked on a camera, i.e. you very quickly learned how to get the needle in the middle, otherwise you were faced with countless rolls of film ruined. The flow on from this was of course that you then understood technical aspects of the process, such as Depth of Field and movement. Eventually these process became intuitive and one could throw all that away and just focus, pun intended, on the image in front of you. Now the plethora of cameras, and their relative cheapness, plus the abundance of each camera's controls available mean that simple controls on a camera are a rarity. This rareness can then impinge on the process of making a good image. The ease too, of flicking your camera to auto, means, why bother with all that information, just press the button let the camera do the rest. But this seemingly simple gain can come at a high cost. Overall understanding of the process, means when things go wrong it can be difficult to understand why and what to do right next time, or worse, simply avoid the situation that brought this disaster upon us, thereby limiting our creative options.

Other ways digital seems to limit options for creative picture making is the 'that will do approach'. Instant feedback on a small screen means students can make quick decisions, for better or worse without exploring other options, particularly those who may have chosen the subject of photography as an elective subject. Despite the powerful tools available to us to sort order categorise our images students 'anecdotally' anyway seem to baulk at the idea of spending too much time assessing and evaluation their results.

The last thing that has me thinking is that students are surprised and delighted when simple things like depth of field are achieved, this used to be a mandatory and rudimentary skill required to produce images that were results of the image makers intentions. Too put an image in a folio simply because it contained an example of shallow depth of field was not even a consideration?

What to do then, expecting students, to use the photography by the kilo approach is one that has been floated past me, in some instances this can work, but again, is it visual overload. Can students exercise enough control to edit down the vast quantities of images they produce to a cohesive body of work, especially in the early stages of their learning of the craft of photography?

Today, a quick cursory glance at a small screen on the back of the camera, you own or was bought for you, gives you a rough idea of how your shoot is going. So why flip the camera controls beyond Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority? Well I have no answer for that, not an easy one any way.

These days I see a all the mistakes from analogue cameras, being trundled out, incorrectly loaded films, majorly underexposed films, poorly developed films, all skills that are quickly learnt within weeks, if not days of starting a course, with borrowed manual film cameras.

Now it is possible to delay the process of working with film and chemistry and manual cameras, sometimes for a whole semester or longer, delaying making these mistakes, means a delay in learning FROM them. Unless the mistakes can be replicated using digital cameras. Putting a camera, ANY camera on Manual mode, means very quickly you have to understand what is going on with light and the sensor. Many students do not, put their cameras to manual. It's a shame a rich and valuable learning experience is being lost.

September 16, 2010

Career Questions

I have given the better part of 20 years of my life to learning and teaching photography.

I am one of the fortunate few, who, has a job I enjoy, relish and am constantly challenged by.

Over this time frame I have watched some massive changes technologically that have happened to education, photography and culture generally. I am still amazed by these changes. I am still enthusiastic about photography, learning, creativity, I feel the technological changes have made photography and education exciting and a challenge.

Other than the technological changes, it has been this way since 1987, when I took my first tentative steps, at the ripe old age of 22, toward gaining an education focused on photography.

What I fail to understand; and have never understood, is the prevailing attitude amongst many students, that school is a chore and we as educators are simply here to give them, the students, a hard time, by making them work. A recent facebook discussion I read is one of several that often occurs, spasmodically throughout the year.

Photography is a lifestyle, NOT a career. A one two or 3 year course gives you a piece of paper, but not much else. What a photography or any creative course for that matter, ultimately gives you is encouragement to move forward, the opportunity to make mistakes in an environment when making mistakes is part of the process. Lot's of fun on the way hopefully, a network of friends who can be drawn upon down the tracks to further your photographic/creative career, and a lifetime of memories, hopefully good ones.

If you are not working hard on your course, or continually looking towards the next lot of holidays, then you need to ask yourself. "Why am I doing this, course?" Chances are if you have this attitude now, you won't make it in your chosen field anyway, because there are plenty of people prepared to go that extra mile to succeed in their chosen field, regardless of the perceived losses to social life or time and energies.

December 28, 2010

Research Proposals?

In my recent cyber readings I stumbled on this site, thesip.org. They are calling for research proposals on Photography. More specifically:-

"With the proliferation of cameras and other image-capturing devices, there is a pressing need to conceptualize the human experience as immersed in and shaped by photographic images. Arguably, the long dominance of written culture has given way to a visual culture dominated by photography-based images and their technologies. Yet the profusion of theories and systems that analyze and interpret languages and literatures has not seen an equivalent production of theories and systems that help to interpret and theorize our contemporary culture of photo-based images and their history" source

If I wasn't contemplating a PhD, myself I'd write something, because they have a very interesting list of themes to explore

  • Theme 1: Photography and the Body
  • Theme 2: Photography and Other Media
  • Theme 3: Photography and Privacy
  • Theme 4: Album, Archive, Database, Flickr
  • Theme 5: Pre-history of photography
  • Theme 6: Open

Please forward this on if any one you know might be interested?

About education

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to musings from the photographic memepool [the shallow end] in the education category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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