teaching Archives

September 8, 2006

MGA photography Exhibition

Currently showing at the MGA, is The Inaugural William & Winifred Bowness Photography Prize. I recently visited with this show with a group of photography students from work, a fine cross section of the current state of photographic art in Australia at the moment.

For once I was caught out and didn't have either a pen OR a notebook with me, thankfully I managed to scrounge up a piece of paper and a pen from a student, thanks Kirstie. I scratched a few thoughts down on the piece of paper, and if you were thinking of visiting this photography exhibition perhaps my observations maybe of some interest to both of you?

Firstly the notes or more to the point the 'words' I scribbled down in no particular order.

  • Unanswered Questions
  • Size
  • Type C [no non silver, bar one]
  • Metallic Paper
  • POMO death of magic
  • Art History References

Unanswered questions:-
all the images had a plaque, describing the artist's intentions, some using as much as two A4 sheets other using barely a line. Many though pose questions that they either refused to answer or were unable to answer leaving me wondering if the work was an investigation or a rhetorical question.

85% of the work was huge, the rest large, bar one piece, a beautiful set of polaroids taken using a special macro/medical camera. Why does contemporary art need to be so fucking large?

Metallic paper:-
There several images that were printed on this paper, most of which worked well, again though I don't understand this choice, after all it is hard and smooth and cold, not attributes I would want accredited to my work.

POMO death of magic:-
Postmodernism has to my mind been a too intellectual for it's own good, much of today's art has all sorts of ideas attached to it, once you get the idea what is left?

call me old fashioned but whilst craft should be invisible, bad craft should be as invisible.

Art History:-
Several pieces had art history references, so if you had no knowledge of art history then, you would not understand the pieces at all see my last point about POMO and magic.

'The Passions of Light' by Emmanuel Santos

Also on at the MGA, generated a whole list of names of Angels, which piqued my interest, the images themselves however were by and large somewhat twee, which surprised me because Mr Santos has a long history in the Melbourne Photography scene, as a Photo-Journalist documentary photographer.

Still a great survey of contemporary photographic art in Australia at the moment and real swimming pool of ideas and approaches.

October 10, 2006

A Quote

Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking.

October 11, 2006

History of Photography

Curious about the beginnings of photography? Start with this history of photography site by Dr. Robert Leggat.

October 19, 2006

Christmas Has Come Early This Year

Tom Waits is about to release a new album in November, according to Anti-Records, WOOT!


Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards is a wide-ranging collection of 54 songs - including 30 new recordings – equaling over three hours of rare and never-before heard music. The set comes complete with a 94-page booklet.

Each of the three CDs is separately grouped and sub-titled – ‘Brawlers’, ‘Bawlers’ and ‘Bastards’ – to capture the full spectrum of Waits’ ranging and roving musical styles. ‘Brawlers’ is chock full of raucous blues and full-throated juke joint stomp; ‘Bawlers’ comprises Celtic and country ballads, waltzes, lullabies, piano and classic lyrical Waits’ songs while ‘Bastards’ is filled with experimental music and strange tales.

In addition to the new work, Orphans features a number of songs originally recorded for the cinema, the theatre and other projects but which now find a home on a Waits’ album for the first time. They include his unique interpretations of songs by such extraordinarily diverse talents as The Ramones, Daniel Johnston, Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht, Leadbelly, Sparklehorse, Charles Bukowski and Jack Kerouac.

"Orphans are rough and tender tunes. Rhumbas about mermaids, shuffles about trainwrecks, tarantellas about insects, madrigrals about drowning,” says Waits. “Scared, mean orphan songs of rapture and melancholy. Songs that grew up hard. Songs of dubious origin rescued from cruel fate".

Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards (Anti Records) is Waits’ first release since 2004’s much-lauded Real Gone. The album was written and produced by Waits with his wife and long-time collaborator Kathleen Brennan and is released on Tuesday 21th November 2006.

Next week is the beginning of Folio assessment at work, this is how I stay sane, by leaning on the fence and just staring out into the distance.

melbourne panorama [the calm before the storm]

October 20, 2006

Geek-dom Overload

My good friend Bart, a fellow flickrnaut and top notch graphic designer, pointed me to this this morning.

pic-lens icon

The interwebs being the interwebs I dutifully went for a look. Downloaded and installed it. What's the big deal here, I thought? I can't see any immediate changes to my browser, Safari, and there is only an option to turn it off in the Menu-bar, but once I found the sweet spot I was sorely impressed!

Burtynsky Photographer

And now for something completely different, Edward Burtynsky's web-site is as beautiful as it is thought provoking, photographer or not you will be moved by the images and text here.

Thanks to barb for the heads up.

November 1, 2006

Currently Reading...

... my most recent purchase, by Robert Adams.

Once again a soft and reflective book, containing some quiet gems that have the potential to smooth anyone's photographic journey.

The inspiration behind photographing in these kinds of places, the way I do.

November 24, 2006


With the social season beginning to amp up, and with a State Election looming, the sad yet inevitable pending departure of this years crop of students, at PIC is somewhat pushed out of my mind. A welcome relief really. Despite the pressures of teaching in a creative field that I also practice, it's always a sad time to see students move on. What perhaps is the most burdensome though is the workload of administrative tasks that predominate my day of late. In fact really it is a constant juggling act that is shared by many in the arts.

Take Tod Papageorge for example an Artist I'd been exposed to in Art School, but had forgotten about. It turns out that he has been teaching for some time at the Yale School of Art.

I am pleasantly surprised by his re-emergence.

One of the reasons his re-surfacing is surprising is that he was a 35mm street photographer in the 70's and the current mood these days is far removed from the idea, that you can follow intuition and wander around and stumble upon photographic gems and 'moments' and then produce a meaningful body of work.

To quote Tod Papageorge:-

...there's a failure to understand how much richer in surprise and creative possibility the world is for photographers in comparison to their imagination.

This idea has turned into a quest for me, using film and the meditative process of reflection after wandering around camera in hand simply 'looking', then allowing a certain amount of time to pass before really examining my proofs and 'thinking' about what is going on.

After all who was it that said… “ seeing comes before thinking”

May 16, 2007

Education & Software Corporations

As we gear up to purchase the next version of Photoshop. I can't help but wonder, is Photoshop really worth teaching?

From where I sit, education is about helping people to develop into free thinking and creative individuals. Photoshop is one of the areas I teach.

I've wondered about this before.

Photoshop has been around for 10 plus years. In the interim it, Photoshop, has become the dominant photo editing application. Dominant but not necessarily the best, fastest or cheapest.

This places me as an educator, between a rock and a hard place. While Photoshop is a powerful tool, any professional photographer knows that up to 80% of it's functions are not of any real studio/commercial use. Look at Lightroom and Aperture for example. The breadth and depth of photo editing tools and raw processing tools out there, is astounding, and probably ever growing.

Do I teach the students how to use photoshop, well, a time consuming task and skill, and risk them being curious about to how to do the job cheaper, faster and easier, or show them how to use and evaluate software that may give them more options at some point in the future, but only give them a fleeting understanding of photoshop?

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September 24, 2007

Film Processing Video

How to process black and white film, an introductory video.

Thanks to brendadada

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November 16, 2007

Phonecam Workshop 2007

During the year I, as an experiment ran an elective, a workshop on Phone camera photography. Finally enough of the work has been handed in for me to complete the website. Have a look and see for yourselves.

March 2, 2008

Backwards or Forwards?

Folio on my mind.

Recently, I talked about a subject I'm teaching this year; that I hadn't taught for some time. Folio, is what we call it a pic.

Well I'm glad I jotted down those few thoughts here, they will serve as a catalyst and reminder of what I hoped to achieve or at the least explore. You see, due to time-tabling issues and the several other logistical areas impeding the progress of the year, we are running behind, and as a consequence we have yet to run a formal class on the subject. When we finally do, week one will be simply be a, this what we are going to do, this is how we are going to do it and this is why we are going to do it sort of class, i.e. an introductory class.

Even so, as a further reminder, here's a bunch of other ideas I am hoping to explore in the class.

What can photography say? How can it say it? Why does it need to be said? Narrative, story and ideas can photography tell a story, and if so what story should it tell?

March 19, 2008

Text & User

Currently reading a book titled, "Thinking With Type", by Ellen Upton, pub Princeton Architectural Press.

In the section where the writer talks about, text, this passage has struck a particular chord with me.

Another Model, which undermined the designer's new claim to power surfaced at the end of the 1990s, borrowed not from Literary criticism, but from human—computer interaction [HCI] studies and the fields of interface and usability design. The dominant subject of our age has become neither reader nor writer but user, a figure conceived as a bundle of needs and impairments-cognitive, physical emotional. Like a patient or child, the user is a figure to be protected and cared for but also scrutinised and controlled, submitted to research and testing.

How texts are used becomes more important than what they mean. Someone clicked here to get over there. Someone who bought this also bought that. The interactive environment not only provides users with a degree of control and self direction but also, more quietly and insidiously, it gathers data about its audiences. Barhtes's image of text as a game to be played still holds, as the user responds to signals from the system. We may play the text, but it is also playing us.∗

∗pg 73 Thinking With Type, by Ellen Upton, pub, Princeton Architectural Press 2004, ISBN 978-1-56898-4483

A whole unit of research there alone in this one quote.

July 25, 2008

Good Advice for 'Creatives'

I would add for those undertaking advanced/tertiary in their field, these shortcut proceedings, but not as much as you would think.

April 16, 2009

Robert Adams, Hasselblad Award

One of the major influences on my photographic direction has been justly awarded the Hasselblad prize. His influence stems not only from his photography as subject matter, but his writings as well. I have bought and read many of his books over the years, 2 of the most influential are,

Completely unfashionable in today's post modern world, but an ongoing inspiration for me no less.

This is my favorite quote regarding, the job I do to pay the bils.

"We can give beginners directions, about how to use a compass,we can tell them stories about our exploration of different but possibly analogous geographies, and we can bless them with our caring, but we cannot know the unknown and thus make sure the path to real discovery"1

1 Page 39, Why People Photograph.

How quickly we forget... how quickly.

November 26, 2009



At this time of year , I spend my days at work interviewing, prospective new students, for my day job, teaching photography at PIC photographic imaging college. Over and over again I see the same problems with folios and folio presentation.

One of the easiest avoided mistakes is the orientation of your prints. So so many people mix their verticals and horizontals in a way that makes the viewer/interviewer rotate the book 90° my first tip on presenting a folio or body of photographic or any 2d art works for that matter is to insert the images in your folio/book in a consistent manner.

This poorly drawn diagram shows how to present correctly, as opposed to the image beneath it.


not correct
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

This is the simplest and cheapest way to present yourself professional, regardless of the cost or type of method you choose to present your work.


The actual container for your work be it leather bound portfolio or cheap plastic K-Mart equivalent, would be best chosen carefully according to your budget and the audience who is viewing the work. The more you spend however, the more polished and finished a body of work can look, after spending all that time and effort making the images and getting them printed, a poorly presented book or portfolio can bring everything to crashing halt. Ultimately, your choice will driven by budget followed by audience, unless you can afford to spend a lot of cash on a presentation book or method.

Layout & Sequencing

A real professional will see the connections between images beyond putting all your studio portraits in order followed by all your favourite location shoots or Landscapes. Think carefully about the order and sequence you use in your folio. Are there for example a series of colours that relate, perhaps complimentary or contrasting? Are they ideas within the images that repeat, or shapes even? Treat the body of work as a visual journey with highs and lows, surprises and delights. Use spreads or blank pages to add pauses in that journey, or like punctuation in a sentence.

Clean 'n tidy

At the very minimum, use as many precautions as possible to keep the work unblemished and free of dirt pet hair and other unwanted imperfections. These things give huge clues, to who you are as a person, and your attention to detail, all key factors in gaining entry into either a college or getting a job, especially getting a job.

Backup Work

While this approach is foisted upon, younger students, VCE students for example, it is only really necessary if, 'process' forms part of the idea you are exploring. Again, be fastidious in your work methods, unless the methods are about NOT being fastidious, how you organise this kind of work, and present it gives huge insights into you and your approach to making images.

About teaching

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

photoshop/digital is the previous category.

work is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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