One On One Mentorship Teaching Philosophy
Specificity in vision, idea and purpose is essential to meaningful photography. In the early 20th century, gallerist and photographer Alfred Stieglitz referred to his own photography as, “…the equivalent of what I saw and felt…” . What he was telegraphing to us in the contemporary moment, is that it is essential for a photographer to marshal authentic feelings and interpretive abilities in order to create more than “…what I saw…”. We can all see things in a similar way with our eyes, but it is through specific method and vision that the photographer conveys the nature of things. This is what makes photography the influential juggernaut that it is, now entering its third century. It takes significant advantage of the emotional role ‘seeing’ occupies in our living experience. At its best, it transposes feeling to sight… sight to feeling. By that definition, if you’re not asking yourself challenging questions while viewing a photograph, you’re not looking at much in the way of successful photography.
This, in short is the frustration in the all too accessible world of photography; having a camera does not make you a photographer. It just allows you to capture likenesses of what you see. Static filters, software and apps, in and of themselves, are weak substitutes for your own urges and judgement. But the capture is, no doubt, an essential starting place and establishes the architecture for any process that follows. With persistence in refinement of techniques, education and reflection, the camera owner can be transformed into a photographer who can develop the capture into feelings and attitudes in visual form. What I like to call, “Truth Made Visible”. But understand that “Truth” in creative expression, is necessarily subjective and can contain ambiguity and provocative questions... and “Visibility” alone, does not make a photograph. The connection from “Truth” to “Visible” is where the creative photographer's process lives; as with the transition from “cameraperson” to authentic “photographer”. Photography cannot be one big click, as we wish. It is actually layers of tissue-paper-thin acts and decisions that are, at it’s best, seamlessly integrated to make a specific and meaningful expression. Forethought, combined with a keenness for reading situational potential, can be combined in a unique way to produce the kind of image that will challenge both authoring photographer and viewer alike. Or in the French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur's words, "chance favors the prepared mind."
As a teacher, I espouse specificity in process and expression at all levels. They’re your ideas and feelings; respect and choose the tools for their potential and their limitations, in your own way. I am here to foster that uniqueness by sharing with you the subtlety and plasticity of the tools and techniques, as well as your imagination.
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