Saturday, 28 January 2012

Getting away with murder...

John Stoddart
Homage to a murder is an interesting concept tapping into our fascination with the macabre and the murder mystery genre. John Stoddart's work has always had touch of Helmut Newton about the choreography and a feeling of the smash grab aesthetic of a paparazzi so his style naturally fits the theme of the 'Black Dahlia Murder.' Earlier this week my learner's had been looking at themes in photography so I found the murder mystery narrative in John's work particularly relevant. The ability to tell a story clearly in a single image is not easy. The work on show also provides a rather 'dark' humorous look at the modern fascination with being famous at all costs. John is an internationally published photographer whose clients have included Vanity Fair, GQ and The New York Times. If you are going to be in London over the next month then this is worth a look especially as it is situated right in the heart of Soho at The Society Club.
Nicholas Brewer
Recently a class discussed pictures of twins and in particular the famous image by Diane Arbus. It is a lengthy process explaining that pictures of natures clones raise deeper questions than just our initial response to trying to spot the difference. I try to get students to think about their own identity and how that has evolved. Is it harder for twins to find their individuality as they are often treated as a collective?
"A positive attitude really can make dreams come true, it did for me" David Bailey.
Below is an interesting drama about David Bailey,  you should be able to watch it for about a week.

Monday, 16 January 2012

what a kerfuffle about sexualizing children

Mary Ellen Mark
Last week my students chose a well-known photograph and then critiqued it for a few minutes in front of the class, the group asked questions about the student's response followed by a brief discussion.  This picture caused my learners to feel a sense of moral outrage and created a sense of unity in purpose by condemning the Mother for allowing such an image. I reminded the class that images are often factual but never truthful so was it possible that Mary Ellen Mark somehow convinced the Mother to put the girl in make up and get her to smoke a cigarette for aesthetic purposes. I suggested to one learner, who has a daughter albeit younger than the one shown here, that in a few years she should allow me to photograph her daughter in this way. I thought there was about to be another riot in London! They did not think it was likely that the photographer orchestrated the look and felt the image was genuine in this respect. Now I do like to take the alternative point of view because moral outrage binds a group together and builds a team spirit within the class. The learners are a mixture of ages but the majority fall into the 16-19-age bracket and I was delighted by the unifying affect of the photograph.

It is a sign of maturity to admit that you have made a mistake, or at least my parents always told me this.  They must be very proud at the extent of my maturity this week. One of the learners, during a presentation of a photograph mentioned that there had been a 'kerfuffle' during the time that the image was taken. I was shocked! I work hard to improve their vocabulary and was mortified that all my good work appeared to be unraveling with this disregard for the Queen's English. 'Kerfuffle' was not a real word and by that definition I mean it needs to be in a dictionary. After a good natured and useful exchange of opinions we checked it online. I had humble pie with my tea during the break......

Nick Knight.
On Saturday I was filled with a mixture of emotions and tried hard not be tearful.  The cause of this was witnessing Nick Knight's beautiful and sensitive images of women who had a mastectomy. My Mother  had the same operation in the early 1980's and it created a surge of emotions as truly great photography can often do.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

How to Keep a New Years Resolution.

Ed van der Elsken
Feliz Ano Nuevo
We all have ambitions that we would like to achieve with our photography and making specific plans and having a clear understanding of how to achieve them is the key to success. In education there is an acronym called S.M.A.R.T. 
S - specific, significant, stretching
M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T - time-based, timely, tangible, trackable
I have used a broader version of the variety than used in education as I trust it is more suitable for your achievements. 
Let me give you an example of how I am going to apply this today. 
I would like my Facebook 'Teach Yourself Photography' page linked by this blog to hit 65 'likes.'  It is currently at 35 so the increase is a decent amount and realistic. I would like to achieve this by the end of next month. If you have not done so already please hit the 'like' button at the top left of the blog.
It is easy to measure if this has been reached and it will definitely provide extra motivation to increase the amount of posts for the page.
Yes. The increase while quite large simply requires some self-promotion and asking people to like it. 
The more people that 'like'  the page on Facebook the more it helps me to find stuff that is useful and enjoyed by others. It increases my knowledge and helps with future lessons.
I trust that a brief over view of this method will enable you to meet your aspirations this year or even this month. I watched an interview with Matthew Jordan Smith and he wrote his goals down and put them on the mirror so he could see them each morning. The advice form this photo tutor is to set smaller goals, achieve them quickly and then set new ones.