Leland Foerster, a brilliant documentary photographer and instructor -- who happens to be very serious about teaching his students how to take photographs, probably didn't quite know what to make of me. We had to chose a topic/subject to document for nine weeks. And in the beginning I kept changing my subject (loop holes and such, couldn't really be helped, but...), and when I finally did chose something (for the third time), I had a hard time photographing my subject/s because the timing in which to do so, for the most part, always seemed wrong and/or off. It was a struggle from the get-go and, in the classroom, where we reported back to Leland once a week with our images, I'm sure seemed evident to him as well. Ugh... That said, I took Leland's critiques with a grain of salt. I admired him very much and, even though I wanted to drop his class every ten minutes or so, really did enjoy going into the classroom and learning everything I could from him.
I only missed one class in nine weeks, due to illness, but even then I was instructed by Leland to send in my flash drive and prints (with a fellow classmate) regardless - so I did. (I told you, he is very serious about teaching.) So, in that time, in the nine weeks I worked with Leland and fellow classmates, I learned a great deal about shooting photographs. For one, I learned how to set up the composition of a photograph before taking the picture. This is very important because it can either make or break your photograph - and back in the days of film, well, it could also get rather pricey, too. Nowadays, what with digital cameras being primarily what most photographers use, it's not such a big deal, but time can be, and if we're talking about time, setting up the photograph first can be very helpful in not wasting any of it.
The only problem I had with the idea of all this was, well, isn't documentary photography supposed to be shot "in the moment"? If one is doing this, then how on earth can one "set up" the shot? Isn't that sort of, well, cheating? We did talk about this at our very first meeting and Leland instructed us to come up with our own answer for this - there is a serious fine line most documentary photographers skate on here. I now understand why that is. And, as for myself, I've still yet to come up with an answer on how I really feel about all this. I go back and forth with it, to be honest.
(This class was challenging. I both liked and disliked the fact.)
So, while I completely choked on my classroom presentation (yes, even though I studied long and hard, "Murphy's Law" blew that all to hell in the way of thumb drive issues in regards to the photographs I'd chosen for my particular subject - they were literally the size of my thumbnail, Mother of God, and because of it I lost all focus and concentration and, well, I choked, what can I say?). Oh, I can say that it didn't help matters that I was nervous to begin with. That's what I can say. Oh well... Such is life. I did learn some fabulous stuff in the process, and really, that's all that counts, right? Well, that and my grade. Yikes...
(It was a long nine weeks...)
Our last meeting took place in a larger class room on campus, where we all set up our "Photo Exhibitions" then invited guests to attend the show. We also had to pick a fellow student from our class to critique his/her work (Lord... more speaking in front of others??? Ugh...), where, again I blew it. Crap... (I don't think I'm cut out for public speaking.) I get nervous. I had no idea I was like this, which in and of itself has been a learning experience for me. I'm usually pretty easy going, will talk to just about anyone, anywhere, really I'm not fussy, but apparently when all eyes are on me, um... no. I choke. I am the worst public speaker!!
(So glad that part of it is over.)
I chose to make a book out of the photographs I had taken of my subject/s (Larry and Jeremy - 'The Handymen'), and have to admit it turned out OK. Of course, Leland found the "not so 'OK' parts" in it when he did his critique (the man missed nothing, believe me), that being of which I had forgotton to put a date inside the book. He's right, the date is kind of important. Duh... He also thought no borders on my photographs would have looked better than the white ones I had chosen - but I happened to disagree with him there, of course, I kept this to myself. All in all, it wasn't that bad a critique and it seemed I had bitten off all my nails for nothing. They look terrible now. Damn it...
The best part of the evening was when both my subjects (Larry and Jeremy) showed up for the exhibition and I was able to present them with the book I'd made. Too, it was incredible to see everyone's work displayed in mats and frames, and books, etc.. The vibe was awesome that evening. I loved being a part of it. And I feel very fortunate in having been able to work with all these incredibly creative people -- and if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would, even if it meant blowing my presentation again and having abnormally red cheeks all evening long as a result of it. It really was fantastic. We had photographs of everything from environmental degradation, to belly dancers, to food, and all were amazing in their own way.
It was a stretch for me. I felt in over my head some days. But I met some really neat people in the process and am looking forward to taking photographs with some of them (that we won't be held accountable for <smile>) in the near future.
I hope I at least get a C+! ;)