Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chino Otsuka: Imagine Finding Me

I was recently introduced to the remarkable photographs of Chino Otsuka. The images appear to be snapshots of mother and child, older and younger sisters, two friends, or in some cases even strangers. The reality is the photographer has seamlessly inserted her current adult self into photographs taken of Otsuka during her childhood and youth. The composited images become a poetic meditation on time, memory, and the self.

Otsuka clearly gave a lot of thought about how to match the gesture and appearance of her current and past selves. It is from those similarities and differences that the viewer begins to reflect upon the nature of the self through time: contemplating what changes and what remains constant. There should be some comfort in seeing the older self beside the younger -- armed with the knowledge that through each uncertainty or challenge she did in fact persevere, but it is hard for me not to feel somewhat melancholy looking at these pairs of temporal doppelgängers. United in the photograph, each self seems nevertheless quite alone.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 Winter Term: Classes at ICP and Pratt

It's not too late to register for Photography and Photoshop classes beginning in the next few weeks. My schedule includes one class at Pratt and two at ICP. Learn about photographic composition in The Grammar of Photography, which will be held at Pratt's Center for Continuing and Professional Studies. You can see examples of student work here and read about the course topics and goals here. Some outstanding examples of street photography by two members of last Fall's class, Paul Kessel and Felice Simon, are below.

The Grammar of Photography, Pratt Center for Continuing and Professional Studies, Thursday evenings, 6:05 - 9:05, for 10 weeks, beginning February 6. (There is no direct link to the class on Pratt's website. To register for the course, you'll need to first click on the highlighted course name at the beginning of this paragraph, then the Search, register and pay online for CCPS courses link in the left column of that page, then enter PMPH-472-01 as the course code number.)

Paul Kessel

Paul Kessel

Felice Simon

Felice Simon

At ICP, I'm teaching Photoshop 1 and Photoshop 2. Photoshop 1 will cover RAW conversion, color correction, printing, and local adjustments using layer masks and selections. The objectives for the course are to develop students' sensitivity to color and tonality and give students the tools to transform the image the camera records into the picture the photographer imagines.

Photoshop 2 further strengthens students' abilities to solve expressive and aesthetic problems. The class is devoted to linking the decisions made in image processing and manipulation to ideas about composition and meaning. For example: how to enhance the illusion of space in a photograph, how to identify the subject, how to use color expressively, how to direct the viewer's eye within an image. The major technical component of the class is the introduction of advanced masking techniques. Photoshop classes are not just about learning software; they are, more importantly, about learning to see.

Photoshop 1, International Center of Photography, Monday evenings 6:30 - 9:30, for 10 weeks beginning January 27.

Photoshop 2, International Center of Photography, Wednesday evenings 6:30 - 9:30, for 10 weeks beginning January 29.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Grammar of Photography: Student Work

All images speak through color, light, shape, and design. Unfortunately, the principles of composition are an often overlooked topic in photographic education. Last Fall, I taught a new class at the Pratt Center for Continuing and Professional Studies called The Grammar of Photography. The class is an exploration of visual language, with specific emphasis on the problems that confront photographers in effectively communicating through their photographs. In prior posts, I've written at length about the concepts behind and goals for The Grammar of Photography. In this post, I want to share some images from the class.

The student projects ranged from street photography on Fifth Avenue, the subway, environmental portraiture, experimental portraiture, and boxers in Gleason's Gym. I was extremely impressed with the time and effort the students put into their projects -- and equally impressed with the results.

There is also some good news to share: The Grammar of Photography has been made a required Foundation course for Pratt's Certificate in Photography and Digital Imaging. If you are not familiar with Pratt's course offerings, the course catalog is worth investigating. It is also worth noting that classes at Pratt are priced very economically.

The next section of The Grammar of Photography will run Thursday evenings at Pratt's Manhattan campus for 10 weeks beginning February 6, 2014 and ending April 10. Registration information is available on Pratt's Continuing Education page. The course number is PMPH-472.

Russ Rowland

Felice Simon

Ed Forti

Paul Kessel

Doug Caldwell

Debra Bilow

Danqing Lu