In last week’s class, we attended a panel where multiple artists told us about their experiences with grad school and their education. Each speaker was very unique and everyone stood out in their own way. It was very interesting to hear everyone’s story, some sculpted, some did photography, painted and so on. However, I unfortunately do not remember much of the words said because a lot of it happened to trail on and on until I dazed out. I loved that one artist had an organization that provided means of art making to veterans. I also loved learning more about my professor’s, Nancy diBenedetto, work and story. She had to tackle many struggles to get to where she is now. But with fierce determination, Nancy was able to reach her goals with photography and still strives to continue these goals. Her work is beautiful and I definitely love the collaborative photography projects she does with her daughter.
During the times I was fully attentive, I was in fact very inspired by all the artists’ words. I have a long road ahead of me to get to where I’d like to with my art; as much as I love CSUSM, I feel it necessary to transfer to the Art Institute to achieve my goals as these speakers at the panel did. I’m throwing myself out into completely new waters that I’m not incredibly comfortable with quite yet, but I feel like in time that will change. And so I’m excited for what the future may hold.
This class was definitely both fun and challenging, it required a lot of time that I frankly had to sometimes scavenge for. My favorite two assignments from it would have to be the out of class photo shoots (Walnut Park/Discovery Lake) and the book assignment.
My least favorite, however, was probably the photo-booth project. It seems like a pretty fun assignment!–that is if you are able to find the right location, equipment, time, people, and attitude. I unfortunately lacked a lot of those so completing the requirements for it were pretty challenging for me. I still managed to do so but I didn’t manage quite as easily or comfortably as I did with any other assignments. Also admittedly having some pretty bad social phobia, and anxiety disorder, this project seemed way scarier than it really was. I some what dreaded the thought of doing it, but I still did. This project did allow me to get some insight on adjusting to situations that didn’t go quite according to plan. I also got to see a lot of dogs, so that is a big plus.
Back to my favorite assignments:
Some of my best photos came out of the photo shoots at the parks. In all honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing the majority of the time I’m photographing things; I’ve just somehow been able to capture some pretty decent images. Even though I really could not explain what I’m doing, I think that a lot of the required skill comes naturally to me. I naturally know just how to frame an image or use the environment to my advantage through an instinctual understanding of composition. At Discovery Lake we were given reflectors and diffuser to enhance the lighting of our photos. Once I was handed both a reflector and a diffuser, I glance down at them and think “I have absolutely no idea how to use either of these but now I am holding the only two we brought so it is mutually understood that I have to be able to use these correctly or look like an idiot flailing these things around.” So I just flailed them around until I noticed any visual distinctions good enough to incorporate into a photograph. Plus when it came to adjusting the camera settings in manual mode, I didn’t really think about it; my hand would move on its own accord until I naturally knew they were just right. Shooting at both these locations gave me a better understanding of what the heck I was even doing. Both times I returned to class thinking “man I got nothing good out of that. I’m not sure what I’ll do”; but shortly after pulling my photos up on the computer screen I came to realize that I got some pretty beautiful photos. These shoots also helped boost my confidence and search for creativity. Everyone was getting pretty much the same photos so I tried finding a way to make my photos ever so slightly different.
Being an artist, I got rather excited when told our book projects did not have to be solely about photography. Even though I was setting myself up for disaster, I decided to make my book about something highly detailed and important to me that I didn’t have the time for. Knowing all this, I did it anyways, because I cared for the subject so much. I decided to do a short book explaining a bit about my future web-comic The Madman’s Advocate. I’ve had it floating around in my head and the internet for quite some time since I don’t want to start the actual comic book pages until I know I’m artistically equipped with the skills I need to manage an entire comic on my own (I’ve planned to release it once I graduate). This would give me the chance to put everything I have so far in one place, so that way I could share it with others and develop it a bit more for myself. I did leave out a lot of ‘spoilers’ but I wrote down a good amount of the story I have so far (I also cut out quite a bit to fit it onto 20 pages). Although I didn’t have enough time to make the book exactly what I wanted it to be, I still manged to make what I’d like to call “Edition 1” and am excited to see it printed. This book will kick-start me into developing the story even more than compiling it into a second edition.
Overall I did enjoy this class even though I had a lot of struggles and frustrations. This was pretty much the first time I’d picked up a DSLR camera not set in auto mode. It allowed me to appreciate photography more when seeing the hard work that goes into it. But it mainly reminded me of how much I loved photographing things as a child. I remember running around with my parent’s camera, snapping pictures of all my cool dragon toys at dynamic angles or slightly blurred unsuspecting family members. The class gave me a desire to pick up a camera again and capture the life I see around me.
Everybody Street is a film about street photographers and their stories. Many of the photographers featured lived their primes in different time periods, ranging from about 1930 to the present. Yet, they all housed a similar ideology: each were in love with the art of photography, so in love that they would risk their lives just to get the perfect photo. The film was very inspiring, some artists picked photography up casually but then ended up becoming well known for their images throughout the years. It showed that you don’t need some fancy background to make what you’re passionate about become a reality. Although I would like to go into concept art and video games, these photographer’s ideas are still comparable to mine. It shows to just start doing what you love and maybe some day it’ll pay off if you just try hard enough. Yes, there is the chance you will not be successful–that you will completely crash and burn, but those passionate about their art will continue to pursue it anyways. And that’s a type of determination I aim to achieve.
With very little time to spare, I was able to finally finish this book to my liking. It took many nights of staying up until 3 am to draw what I needed to and to also get all my other class’s assignments done on top of that. So it is easy to see that this is something I really care about. Unfortunately, I got rather anxious towards the end of class when trying to upload this. Everyone finished so quickly, once they were done they left and the room count quickly thinned out. I have no idea why I panicked to finish the book, I had plenty of time, I even had enough time to take it home and finish. But my ride home was only a few minutes away, plus I felt the need to finish it in class. So I did, but because I was in a panicked rush, I did not skim over it as carefully as I should have. So there are a few parts in the book where text is cut off. This is completely my fault for trying to hurry, I should not have let my anxiety get the best of me. There also happened to be a processing order so two books were purchased. I canceled one order, checked back later to see that it wasn’t actually canceled. So I get to have two books with these errors in them now.
Negativity aside, I really did enjoy making this book. These characters and their stories are so incredibly important to me that it’s hard for me to even express. I plan to expand on this book with in my free time, adding more characters, more drawings, and more writing. It really helped me think about developing this story and consider the future that it has waiting.
I may order a revised version of the book for myself then try to sell the two misprints for a little bit less money since this story already has a bit of a fan base!
Update: I put up a better quality flip book version of it on my website!
Today in class we focused on night photography. I meant to bring glow sticks and other lights that we could use to make some pretty awesome photos but I unfortunately forgot to grab them on my way out the house. So I figured that the lights on our phones would work sufficiently enough to come up with something. I worked with my class mate Dean, and as we waited for the sun to set, I got the idea to use the light of our phones to make it look like we’re battling with magic wands. It did take us a few tries, and it was pretty entertaining to see since out of context we were two random kids wildly waving our phones around us while in front of a camera. A good amount of people that walked by sent us a raised brow, but Dean and I were having too much of a fun time to really care. Later we tried to mimic the “superhero landing” by use our phone lights to make the lines that indicated my fist hitting the ground. This one was a bit harder and most of the lines were so crisp that it looked like we just squiggled some lines on snapchat; it turned out okay but not too much to my liking. Dean and I also had to share our photos so I tried to edit (probably over edit) my versions a bit differently to look separate from his.
Ultimately this activity was very fun and I would love to do it again! I even got so into it that I happened to trigger my heart condition because I worked myself too much. So I started shaking and broke out in a very heavy sweat. But after a little rest, I recovered and got some cool photos!
Today some Navy photographers, Arthur Marquez and Ben Lewis, came in to talk about their work. Arthur was previously a deep sea diver but now does a lot of underwater photography while Ben entered the navy as a journalist and now does a lot of aerial or combat photography. It is interesting to see just how passionate they are about what they do for a living. These photographers have gone to the ends of the earth to both help people and get the perfect photographs. Working in the Navy is a huge commitment and it is definitely not an easy one; so I admire just how much Arthur and Ben are willing to sacrifice to get the photos they need. Each one of their photos were incredibly powerful and well done. The composition, the colors, the emotions, and the purpose of them all were contained so well in their small snapshots of time that they come up with. Although I’m not planning to go into a photography as a profession, their words still inspired me to pursue my craft to the best of my ability.
As the title suggests, I did struggle some what with this assignment. The first tripod I tried using for it decided it didn’t want to stay in one piece for more than 3 seconds. So I tried taking the photos for it just by holding the camera myself but it is a lot harder to get pictures that line up with each other this way; it is especially hard when you have a slight tremor that prevents you from keeping the camera as steady as possible. After giving up with that tripod, the next day I pick up a new one to use. But unfortunately one of the hinges was broken, so I could not tighten the camera to a stable position. I resorted to duct taping the broken parts in place so I could get some remotely good photos.
I tried my best with what I had and there are definitely a lot of mistakes in the panoramas where the separate photos could not be stitched together too well. Regardless of the struggle, panoramas are honestly a fun thing to play with if you’re able to get a good enough set of photos. Making these taught me some more things in Photoshop as well since I had to try to even out the images’ curved horizon lines.