More and more I am feeling the urge to sit down and write something. Today for example, I want to write something, anything. Well not quite anything, I have to write the last bit of my PhD corrections, and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to do that, so IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m writing here instead.
There are lots of things I feel like writing about today, my recent phone interview with Google, though as the interview was only four minutes, it wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be a very long piece, so I will wait till I have had the next interview with them for that. I could write about the absolutely amazing hand of bridge I played last night (my partner and I bid game with only 9 points between us, and it would have made if the opponents hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bid higher) but that will no doubt bore all of you. Instead, I think I will write about the photo course I started on Saturday.
As some of you know, and those who donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t might have guessed by looking at the site, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m into photography. I love it, but while I have always found the technical aspects of it, like shutter speed, and ISO settings easy (they are just applied physics) I have always felt pretty incompetent at the artistic side of it. I have taken some stunning photos, but always by playing to my strengths Ã¢â‚¬â€œ technicalities. The dance photos are good because I have trained myself to photograph the moments when the dancers do something impressive. The people photos are good because I have learnt to use the same Ã¢â‚¬Å“capture the moment the subject does somethingÃ¢â‚¬Â technique when looking at people interacting. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m very proud of the technique I have in my photography, but I have always felt a bit of a cheat when it comes to being artistic. Hence the photo course – The Art of the Snapshot at Central St. Martins, taught by Karl Grupe.
I have to admit, I was a bit worried about what the course would be. Carina, who has some other courses at CSM told me she had heard the snapshot course was quite basic. It is, but in the way I want it to be. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basic in technique. We have already covered the entirety of the technique we are going to do for the course: Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how your camera works, just set it onto automaticÃ¢â‚¬Â. The course really does focus on art. We spent the first session talking about how all the things that you put into the photo: style, concept, content, symbols and experience all combine to create a reaction, which is then interpreted by association in the audience. That ties in exactly with the MindHacks book which claims Ã¢â‚¬Å“The human brain is an association engineÃ¢â‚¬Â. The style, or voice of the photographer is very important, and we spent the rest of the day on exercises about personal voice. We did a number of exercises, mostly drawing, where we had to express various concepts, including ourselves graphically. Karl then shows how for most people their voice is consistent, or at least has some consistencies throughout their work, including photos they had brought in. I am very clear and bold in my voice. If IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m depicting a tree, in any medium, I will show a tree, and it will be in the centre of the frame. Where else would it be? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a depiction of a tree! But of course there are other approaches, you could just hint at a collection of leaves in one of the corners. That is a very different way of doing it, but just as valid.
I tried hard to stretch myself for the last part, a visual presentation of Ã¢â‚¬Å“meÃ¢â‚¬Â on A0 paper. I resisted the temptation to put an icon or depiction of me in the middle, but it ended up there anyway. Each of the four parts of my personality (work, home, sports/dance, and photography) ended up having a clear area on the page that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really overlap. But I did manage to have quite a chaotic (messy?) selection of colours, and I even went so far as to try and signify the feeling of not being artistic by ripping off the part of the paper that was going to represent the artistic side of photography. Despite ending up with something I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like, I think I made progress. Some of the other people on the course seemed to not like their work either, despite everyone loving everyone elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s work (at least I really liked all the other ones). Maybe itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just common for people to not like what they have done?
There was a really good cross section of people on the course, lots of different ages and professions. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m looking forward to getting to know them better in the weeks that come.