Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 5

We're all about wow. Pictures that make you cry, make you cringe, make you happy. Pictures that solicit gut reaction" - Steve Fine
Day 5

Friday - And thus, this journey concludes. The group spent last night (Thursday) at the RIT alumni party. Although it started out a bit like an awkward middle school formal, people started to actively converse after an hour or so. I spent a good amount of time talking with Frank Fournier about how to create a documentary on an overdone topic in a non-cliche type of way. His insight into the photographic process is truly refreshing and very helpful. I also met and talked with Yunghi Kim. Because of her background working at the Boston Globe for 7+ years, we immediately had something in common. She was really helpful as far as helping me to create a career plan in Boston, suggesting different employment paths I had not considered.

This afternoon, we met at Snyder's apartment for our last scheduled event. Bob Elder talked about his non traditional style of street photography. It really has been interesting in all our visits to see the range in types of work photojournalists have pursued after their education. Some settled more into the classic style of newspaper photojournalism, while others have used their past knowledge to develop a newfangled and personally characteristic approach.

While this trip was somewhat terrifying in that it solidified how much I do not know and how much room for improvement I hold, it was an experience I truly needed. I had formulated a list of things to learn and polish at the beginning of the quarter, but by the end of week 3, I began to loose focus. This trip has reset my mind and aspirations.

Thus, the bucket list.

-technical understanding and improvement (I am very much aware that I'm not a technically strong photographer, and that needs to change. I can't hide from that side of the field any longer. I need to embrace my lack of comprehension and work my butt off to improve it.)
-speed (Listening to many of these photographers speak, I became familiar with my "need for speed". I edit as slow as molasses and don't usually turn out an excellent image, or something I'd even be comfortable with my peers seeing, in the beginning of any shoot. I want to work on producing great work, faster.)
-accuracy (While it's something that photojournalists are constantly paying attention to, I need to work on this, excessively. It is somewhat conglomerative of the technically inefficiency, but just to reiterate. I need to be more accurate on focus, exposure, catching moments, etc. Pretty much everything.)
-variety (This is something I'm hearing more and more lately, as I form my portfolio. Most people say that I have great moments, but the way in which I look at situations doesn't vary a lot. Same viewpoint, same composition, same lenses. I don't fully understand how I'm going to change this, but I need to. I tend to get very stuck in habit, not just in photography, but all aspects of my life. Once I get comfortable with something, I don't often take risks by trying new things. I need to break free of this and learn to take more chances. It is quite possible, and likely actually, that I'll fail. And frankly, that terrifies me. But it's the only way I'm going to learn.)

I think it's pretty obvious that I have an overwhelming amount to accomplish. I don't expect all of this to happen overnight, but I need to start seeing changes.

Day 4

"You're the wizard behind the curtain" - Patrick Witty
Day 4

Today was our last full day of scheduled activities. As our trip wraps up, I cannot believe how fast the week has gone by. It's days like this that I know, without a doubt, that I'm in the right field. 

We started off the morning with a visit to the International Center of Photography (ICP). The main display at the center was The Mexican Suitcase, a famous collection of recovered negatives of the Spanish Civil War, considered lost since 1939. Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and David Seymour were the main photographers to which the negatives belonged to. It was very interesting to see contact sheets of the original negatives, as opposed to selected images, because that gave us the opportunity to watch the way in which the photographer worked towards creating a great photograph. Often times, we see famous photographers best images, but do have the experience of viewing the process. 

After we left ICP, we headed to TIME Magazine. The DOP, Kira Pollack, talked to us about the importance of the cover, as well as many other issues the magazine deals with. This was, without a doubt, my favorite place we visited during the trip, as well as the most inspiring. Many of the other places we visited were great, but didn't thrill me the way TIME did. Ideally, I could definitely picture myself working there, for many reasons. The way in which the magazine functions is different from the newspaper, in that it is a little looser as far as captions, stories, and types of photography deemed acceptable. I think working for this type of platform would be a much better fit for me, because of the type of work I am most interested in. I was primarily impressed with TIME for two reasons. Firstly, the images they produce are amazingly high quality and stunning, aesthetically. Also, TIME is one of the first magazines I have seen that provides an outlet for interesting and relevant environmental imagery and stories, as well as offering a great platform for more "conventional" documentary stories. It was refreshing to see a channel of work that doesn't exclude more news type stories by providing a focus on the environment. The variety in TIME photography was quite appealing to me. 

Lastly, we ended our day with a visit to Sports Illustrated. Steve Fine gave us a few presentations of images from big sporting events that were truly incredible. Seeing these images brought my understanding of sports photography to a new level. Although I know for sure that sports photography is not a genre I am specifically interested in pursuing, I really enjoyed listening to Steve Fine talk about his expectations. I could truly feel his energy and passion for this type of photography, through the way he talked about it, which was very inspiring. It made me want to submerse myself in the types of photography that truly excites me, so that others can feel my dedication and love, through my work.

Steve Fine wrapped up his presentation by saying that "even a blind squirrel can find a nut", meaning that anyone can "get lucky" by creating an excellent image. The goal is to be able to produce this type of high caliber work on a regular basis. When you can go into any situation and make something great out of nothing, time and time again, you can be considered a great photographer.