what were you thinking?

this post isn't going to be about cohen at all. i know that happens here from time to time but i just thought i would warn everyone up front. this post is, however, going to be all about me and my neurotic tendencies to over think every little thing.

so i started this photography course two weeks ago on a sunday. i was excited and a little nervous but mostly optimistic. i wanted to believe that this continuing studies class was going to be different then the others i had taken. photography is something i feel competent at. oh sure i knew there would be hot shots in the class, there always is and i also knew there would be some intimidation but i was hoping it would be just enough for me to handle. what i hadn't figured into the equation was art, or my lack there of.

you see this is at emily carr which is an art school, it isn't a photography school or a journalism school or even a community college where anything can fly. it is an art school. my first clue that something was amiss was during our dreaded introductions when we had to explain what it was we hoped to get out of the class (and seriously what is up with this question?) and my response of "to improve my portrait taking technique" was met with what i perceived to be a hint of a rolled eye from the instructor. as the class progressed it became clear, portrait photographers are to artist photographers as subway sandwich artists are to gourmet chefs. there was much discussion about composition and meaning and the word installation was thrown around like a pronoun. she, the instructor, is the variety of photographer that sets up shots with everything being completely inorganic and then takes a carefully crafted shot that she believes expresses some greater idea. in class she even said that there are two types of photographers in the world, photojournalists that take technically perfect shots of the world to express something and artists whose work is more finely tuned and crafted. i don't disagree with this at all but she said it in a way that made it clear that this class was intended for the latter. i am only interested in the former.

ay there's the rub.

so in my usual long winded fashion i am asking for opinions. this weekend i go back for my second class and we were asked to bring with us 3-4 straight photos (not set-up or photoshopped) for us to discuss in class (which at this moment is the equivalent of asking me to come with all of my fingernails in tact so that they can be removed with rusty pliers). so if you were me would you

1. bring in some portraits that i am proud of, art be damned and try not to sound like a total idiot when i say "ummmm actually i didn't have any larger meaning to this, it is just a photo i like"
2. spend some time tomorrow trying to take what the instructor might likely believe to be artistic and then try and bullshit my way through it without feeling dirty and cheap
3. bring a cd that is all scratched to shit and then act surprised that it doesn't work in the drive

i know the answer should be one but it just isn't that easy. maybe it is. maybe the answer is easy, maybe i am the one that is difficult. crap shoot really. sigh.


Jennica said...

The thing is, if it's not #1, then you might as well go ahead and drop the class now, right? I think you should stake your claim in this class-- you have a goal, and you have PAID, and it is completely reasonable for you to expect them to help you achieve your goal... and the snooties can just suck it up.

But if it's not that simple? I don't know... maybe take a photography class not at Emily Carr? I have taken a couple of evening classes at Langara and neither was full of snooties...

t said...

thanks jennica. it will be #1, i just need to find the confidence somewhere. as for the langara, it occured to be 15 minutes into this class. go figure. i have no idea why but i didn't expect it to be so arty, even though it was at emily carr. strange i know. that will teach me for taking the course description at it's word.

Tara said...

It has to be #1...Dont give up, take from the class exactly what it is you want from it, you can ditch all the technicalities that dont fit your needs... And in the end you will still learn something you didnt already know, lessons in life are good.

m said...

The thing is, little lady, you are the best photographer I know. Hands down. You do have an artist's eye. You have skill plus talent. Sure, you are using it primarily for beautiful shots of your family or nature, and not "art" infused with irony and "meaning". Like Jennica said, you PAID for this course, you deserve to get out of it what you want to get out of it. I'm very curious to see which of your shots you choose to take.

That said, I do like #3 too!

Heather & Family said...

Tara your photos are beautiful you could go on your Filckr account and pick any of your amazing images!! I love the one in front of the babluga tank and the great "old man" fish! I once took "Advanced" Web design & the first night they taught how to set upa basic table and name and save files, I was frightened... very frightened.

Anonymous said...

I think you should do a combo of one and two.

Of course you should go out and take some pictures - you have enrolled in a photography class, after all, and there should be challenges, or you haven't gotten your money's worth.

Paul Poole

t said...

thanks for the responses everyone. of course you are right paul, it would be foolish to only bring past work. the selections i ended up bring to the table were in fact some that were taken in the last two weeks...rain be damned.

as for the worry, it was completely unfounded. i wasn't the best or the worst (if one can even quantify such a thing which i am not really sure they can) and in the end it was no big deal at all. i brought work that interested me as did everyone else (including the three guys that only take pictures of architecture) and i was respected all the same.

oh and m, that was nice of you to say. i think it might have even made me blush.

Kleja said...

I agree with all your friends and family. I think that you should focus on what you want to see inside that viewfinder. Hopefully, you'll learn some new techniques and maybe try to emulate another photographers work, but the result will always be uniquely you. My advice, contemplate your biggest fear look at from all angles and realize that it doesn't own you. Put it in it place, which is anywhere but where creativity exisits – which is everywhere. Remember that art school is supposed to be about "anything goes" as well – you're going to do great!