Sunday, July 13, 2008

Project 3

Okay, here are the pictures from project 3, the portrait project. I had a tough time with this because the word "portrait" wasn't defined for us. Apparently, what a portrait actually is is currently being debated in the art world. Therefore, we were allowed to define portraiture ourselves. I struggled with this because traditionally it has been defined as a waistline or higher shot that defines a person. The idea was to capture more than just what the sitter looks like. Some artists believe that they can encompass a person's entire personality and being into one shot, or even a series of shots. I think that's a bunch of crap. No way can you define a person in one photo...I mean, half the time, the sitter doesn't even know everything about themselves, so how is the photographer supposed to? Anyway, I figured that for portraits we should photograph something tangible, something that the sitter gives us. So I focused on emotion. Expressions of emotion are something that the sitter can give us that we don't have to pry out of them, or fake for the sake of the photograph. Therefore, my portrait project took on a sort of documentary feel, but that's okay. Half of the time I feel like documentary is the only way to get anything that's real. The rest of the time though I realize how wrong that is.
Well that was a bit of a tangent, wasn't it. Anyway, as I said, here are the photos from this project. Feel free to practically rip them apart, because that's what my class did haha. I don't mind....anything to help my photos get better. All of these people were free to look at the camera if they wished and were aware that I was photographing them.


Daniel Clark said...

I have some things to say, and I will shortly. But I'm going to go to a movie soon. Just know that I love these. Details at 11:00!

(Oh, if you see this you should tell me why people didn't like these.)

Deanna said...

The people that critiqued mine really didn't like the way they were displayed (on black and white matte boards, arranged in a way to spell FEEL. This was based on the connection I was trying to make to emotion). I was just like...I don't even really care about the display, the prof told us to be creative in our arrangements so I tried, and evidently that's not what he was looking for. Some felt that they were too documentary. Someone said that I made bad choices as far as what was in black and white and what was in color, and felt that some of them should be switched. The same person said that if I was going to have black and white photos, I should have a reason for them to be so. I didn't have a reason, I just happened to be shooting in b&w at that time. I thought that was okay, but I guess it's not? Someone said that I didn't do a good job of catching the emotion and that the photos were bland. Someone said that the exposure on the one of Jackie talking (I think it's the first one on here) sucked. That's all that I can remember. I was irritated becasue my project got eaten alive but other ones that I wasn't impressed with were evidently just fine. I guess that's something you learn to deal with ha

Deanna said...

Dang, sorry that was so freaking long. I didn't realize until I clicked publish.

Daniel Clark said...

No big with the longness. Okay, first off I'd like to say that I think this is your best work to date. Sorry, but I'll be sort of listing things for a bit:
-Choosing black and white because you feel it better represents your vision is just a good an answer as any. Anyone who says "I used black and white to increase the drama" or "I used it to make things feel older" is talking bullshit. The choice for using color or black and white is usually because "it looks better that way"
-Doing something different with your layout is admirable. Effectiveness aside, (I'll deal with that next) breaking boundaries with photography is the only way to get noticed. End of story.
-I feel that typography (the use of letters, but you probably knew that) is something photographers are all struggling with right now. You took a stab I've never heard of. I can't comment on if it was effective because I didn't see it sadly.
-Too documentary? For the love of god they can go fuck themselves. Documentary photography has more merit than art photography will ever have due to it's uphill battle against falsification. That's not to say that art photography isn't good by any means, docu's just have more real hard merit. Documenting is extremely legitimate AND art.
-As far as what's black and white and what's color that's your choice. People should not critique what could have been, but what is there. If that makes sense. I would recommend that you always shoot in color though. Not because it looks better, but because you can always loose the color. You can't bring it back if you shot in black and white.
-I'd like to see someone catch emotion better than this. It was my job for two years to catch emotion. I have it on good authority (professional photojournalists and a photo editor as the SF Chronicle) that in the hierarchy of documentary photos, the shot that catches emotion is the single hardest shot to get. So again, fuck them.
-The exposure on that first one is fine. The focus is a little soft, but whatever.
-Something that you'll notice is that the most ambitious projects are the ones that get the most crap flung at them. At least that's what I see. I don't want to amp myself, but my project this year was received horribly by my classmates. But it got to be displayed in a gallery. The simple projects where someone sits someone in front of a camera and snaps a perfectly lit and toned picture in a studio pales in comparison to an out of focus picture taken while leaping off a ship into a battlefield. Why? Because the second one has meaning, it takes risks.
-I hope this helped. Now onto my critique.

I like the set. Choosing all vertical shots was a good one it brings them together enough so that the interspersed black and whites don't break it up. You can work on your focus a bit. Don't be afraid to deviate from the classical definition of portrait (you did deviate in the one of the man in the lawn chair and a few others, that's good). Because you make your own definition of portrait. I would consider a picture of my old teddy bear to be a self portrait of myself. (yeah I'm one of those crazy nuts) The pictures all feel rich in emotion. Real emotion. Not "okay now smile for me, okay now look sad." Real, raw, emotion. All except the last one. I have to say that one feels a bit forced. I'm really caught up in numbers: 1, 4, 6, and 7.

Thank you for sharing this. And I'm sorry this is obscenely long.

Le Reveur said...

I come from the vantage point that I know absolutely nothing about photography, but I can appreciate it without being pompous.

I like these a lot. Why? Because, to be perfectly honest, they are not aesthetically outstanding. They don't look perfect, they don't look forced, they aren't pictures of beautiful people with happy smiles. You weren't documenting the entirety of human thought and emotion, you weren't going over the edge. They are simple, pretty, and so far as I can tell, fairly well-shot.

I'd still like to see that scathing criticism of people who take too much out of things and bullshit an an analysis, though... :P

Otherwise, don't take it seriously. I've met very few art teachers (other than music) that had any idea what they were talking about and the students often sheepishly follow suite. Besides, as cheesy as it is, it all comes down to what you thought of it in the end.