Last week I attended Nathan Lyons’ and Tate Shaw’s workshop IMAGE/SEQUENCE/SERIES at VSW. The most beneficial part of the workshop for me was the shooting requirement. We had to shoot about 100 photos a day and bring in contact sheets the following class. I’m not going to lie, the first couple of days was like pulling teeth. I started questioning what I was even doing in grad school. OK, so maybe I was being a little overdramatic, but, it took me a while to get excited about shooting again.
Since completing my BFA Thesis project, Constructed Landscapes, I have spent the last three years working in a very structured workflow. I plan out every image before I go out an shoot. Just take a look at my recent series Chronic Disconnect. Each one of those photographs was planned. Or, take a look at Land [ab]Use, an entire series from a single photograph. Planned. That’s why the past week was so difficult, it was torture just wandering around and photographing with no plan.
As I was out shooting I couldn’t help but think of Liz Kuball’s recent blog post “Repetition and familiarity”. For the majority of the week I shot within about a 6-block radius from my apartment building. I challenged myself to SEE my surroundings. On the first day of the workshop Nathan mentioned the difference between “looking” at something and “seeing” it. This idea is one that has been reiterated throughout my academic career yet it seems to be something I quickly forget. My problem is and always has been I am TOO LITERAL. I struggle to see metaphor. I fail to tell stories. Yesterday Joerg M. Colberg posted on twitter, “Photography without the hint of a narrative, photography not interested in moving us: the visual equivalent of elevator music.” I laughed because I couldn’t help but think he was talking directly to me. I don’t want my photographs to be the equivalency of elevator music!
The first four days of class we focused on the image and potential series. It wasn’t until the last day that we laid out all of our prints and worked on sequence. Jason Fulford’s workshop was the perfect end to my week as I brought my photographs from Nathan’s class with me and was able to continue working with them.
Last week definitely got me more excited about photography again. I am going to try to make a point at least once a week to go out and wander with my camera. Looking at the photographs I already started to edit this past week I am excited to see how I can build on this sequence.
Back to work!