As we move into our unit on street photography, you will be not only reading about and viewing art—you will be making it. Each of you will be, for at least two weeks, an active urban street photographer. Here’s what’s involved:
- Complete the readings for 10/2. Pay particular attention to Cartier-Bresson’s more theoretical definitions of a strong photograph, and to Jardin’s practical tips for taking photos in an urban environment today.
- Start taking photos! Use your phone, or a digital camera so that your pictures can be uploaded to Instagram easily. (If you want to work with film, talk to Prof Kolb and Jake—we may be able to work something out).
- Spend a few days taking frequent photos as a way of framing your experiences of the city. Consider what subject matter you’re drawn to: are you taking portraits? Photos of people aware (or unaware) that they’re being snapped? Or are you more drawn to images of storefronts, or urban vegetation, or signage? Do you like to take pictures in the subway, or are you drawn to open-air spaces, like parks? Do your images highlight contrasts—a trash mound waiting for pickup in front of a row of upscale buildings, say—or are they suggestive of narrative scenarios: a kid’s birthday party in the park; a person feeding a duck? Do you like to be up close to your subject matter, highlighting texture, shadows, light? Or do you step back, to create a composition made up of multiple elements? NOTE: You don’t have to set out with a pre-conceived notion of what kind of photographer you are. But, as you work, notice the kinds of pictures you’re creating.
- After a few days, choose some photographs you’d like to share with the class. Be selective—choose your best work (whatever your criteria for that might be). Post your chosen photos to the class Instagram account. [NB: Instructions on posting to come]. After you have a sense of yourself as street photographer, you may start posting as soon as you know you’ve taken a great photo, or you may save up a bunch of photos in order to select the strongest ones later.
- By Sunday, 10/7 you should have posted 5-7 pictures to the class Instagram. By Sunday, 10/14, you should have posted between 10 and 15. Remember to post to the class account, but to identify the photos as your own. Use hashtags and tag your location to invite a wider audience. And feel free to caption or title your photo. (I’ve posted an example, but I suspect your hashtag skills will surpass mine!!). If you need a reminder of the login info, email Jake or me. If you need any help posting, ditto.
- In class on October 9, you will give a brief oral presentation—a spoken “artist’s statement”—in which you describe your photographic practices: your subject matter, style, and methods. In your presentation, you will discuss your practices as a photographer, and you will illustrate this discussion with images. You must cover the following three areas:
- VISION. What is your goal, as a photographer? What motivates you to take pictures? What subjects do you seek out, and what do you want your spectators to notice, or take away? Illustrate this part of your presentation with an image or two that best captures your photographic artistry.
- PROCESS. How do you work? Do you take hundreds of photos, and select just one? Do you crop? Use filters? Do you go on long rambling photo walks, or do you go to a specific spot to take pictures? Illustrate this part of your presentation with images that demonstrate your process–including at least one image that did not make it to the class IG page.
- INFLUENCES. Please discuss at least two influences: one reading (Jardin, Barthes, Cartier-Bresson) and one photographer or photograph. What in the reading inspired you, or challenged you? What photograph or body of work shaped the way you see–and the way you take pictures?
NOTE: Your presentation will be brief–5 minutes only! (We have to stick strictly to the time limit to make sure everyone has a chance to present). Keep your notes to about a page, and choose 4-6 photos to illustrate. Stick to the three points outlined above. And, above all, practice your presentation–and time yourself practicing it!!
I will make sure the projector is up and running before class, but please let me know if you have any special technology needs.