Friday, February 29, 2008

Art is About This

I participated in a Christmas Holiday Sale this past December. I had a few sales, and met a lot of people. Got to talk a lot about photography, and hang out with my wife for the day. The hightlight of my day was certainly this:
A little girl, about 5, is walking with her mother and doing her Christmas shopping. The kid stops at my wifes jewelry, points at a $12 bracelet, and says to her mother, "Can I get this for Auntie?"

The mother replies "You only have $5, so lets look around and if you see anything that says "Auntie" then we can talk about it."

They walk by my table and the 5 year olds eyes lock on a picture of a lighthouse. The mother has kept walking by, so the kid is going "Mommy, mommy, mommy!" She goes and grabs her mothers hand and drags her back to my table. She points at the lighthouse and says "Does this say Auntie?"

Her mother picked it up and looked at it, doesn't see a price tag, and asks me how much for it.

"$5" I tell her.

The kid hands me this crumpled up five dollar bill and says "Thank you sir".

I hand her the photo, stuff the $5 in my pocket and sit back down.

THAT is what art is all about.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Be Comfortable with Strangers

Many people gravitate towards photography as a creative outlet from a voyeuristic vantage point. You can safely sit behind the camera, viewing the world through a keyhole, watching things unfold in front of you. You can document, without becoming part of the scene.

There will come a time when you will be require to interact with other human beings. You will have to be able to make yourself understood and give direction to a human subject. For many photographers, young and old alike, this is a horrifying task.

To help many of my students overcome this fear, there is a simple assignment that I give them

1. Go to an art supply store and purchase a large pad of paper (I have the best luck with 16x20 or 20x24) and a large black magic marker. Not a sharpie, but a real big fat tipped marker that can be used to write on this pad of paper that you have purchased with it.

2. Take these supplies and your camera to a place where there are a bunch of people that you don't know. A park, a mall, a downtown area....anyplace could possibly work for you.

3. Approach someone...anyone...and tell them you are a photographer and are working on a want them to take the pad of paper and the marker and write one word on it....just one word....then pose with the pad of paper and let you make a portrait of them holding the pad with their word exposed.

4. Repeat with another person until you are done.

Students would bring this back to me to look at and ask about the images....the excercise is about communicating with strangers primarily, and photography secondarily. It's amazing to see some of the work....some people write the strangest things, others word fits their personality to a tee.

I always find this project fun and interesting. Over the years I have accrued quite a collection of these images. Beginning the in June, I will begin posting them here for you to see. It's quite a group of people.

If you want to try this, obviously use caution and maybe bring a friend with you.

I wish I could take credit for this idea, but it's not mine. I read it somewhere many years ago (can't even begin to recall where) and have been assigning it to students ansd doing it myself for 15 years of so...I wish I could give the inventor credit.

Take care everyone....and keep shooting.