Advanced Photography students are proudly exhibiting their semester-long photo assignment, along with artist statements revealing their thoughts on photography as a medium and their inspiration behind the photos they chose to display. Art and Photography instructor Michael VanWinkle explained the assignment and process leading up to the exhibition:
“Each of the advanced photography students developed their own criteria for a cohesive body of work this semester. Students were challenged to use photography as a tool for investigating a unique interest and expressing a personal point of view. Through regular critiques and discussions students confronted technical obstacles in their photographs and worked to strengthened their control of the medium. Over the course of the semester each student composed an artist statement to accompany their developing work. This required self-analysis of both personal interests and motives as well as an honest assessment of the work that had been produced so far. These statements helped students become more aware of their own ideas and the creative process.”
Light is something that can reorganize a photo in ways that are unexpected. By manipulating natural light the effects can be as drastic as a laser show or as subtle as darkening a corner. Photoshop allows for hues and perceived colors to be altered. Entire colors can be eliminated and the photo darkened by pressing a few buttons. Manipulating light inside a camera, rather than using Photoshop, is much more interesting to me. By using available light sources in the environment, my photos can look more fluid and less mechanical. While my work may have lights zig zagging across the image, which seems artificial, the light is able to move in and around the space in a natural way that is difficult to replicate, especially in Photoshop. The organized randomness that is created with light is captivating. When I use mirrors or shutter speed to alter the appearance of light, space becomes distorted and light bends into unique shapes. My preferred method for example, where I set the camera to a medium length shutter speed, a very high or low ISO, and zooming in and out on lights while simultaneously shaking the camera, which I call the Eddy Method, creates the most unique pieces I have made. I can take the same picture over and over but with the Eddy Method, the light will bend in different ways each time. The lack of repetition when using the Eddy method makes each picture unique.
Photography is commonly used to accentuate what is already considered beautiful. What I find more alluring in photography is capturing “in-between” moments from unconventional views. These “in-between” moments could be anything from an awkward pause in a conversation to my own accidental disruption of the picture. I continually use white fluorescent flash to overexpose my photos. I find that my unplanned shots reveal the elusive, “in-between” moments, and that what one might find unsettling in a picture is what I find intriguing.
Photography captures moments. It is different than other forms of digital expression because it has not been “created” or completely manipulated, it has merely manipulated the realistic constraints behind the photo. Photoshop is only adding to the process: adding layers and filters to continuously change a structured idea. My relationship with photography is different due to my generation: the cell phone camera has made photography less of an art and more of an everyday memory box, for most. Photography is much more common with the cellphone camera, and more and more people are familiarized with the idea of it. I personally believe that the instrument you use to take the pictures should not affect the value of the photo; the idea and how provocative the picture are defines its quality. A good photo is one that makes you want to study it, not one that is of the highest digital quality.
I find photography fun and engaging. To be in a place where I am taking a picture and knowing that two pictures will never be the same makes me feel like I will not get that particular experience again. That makes it very exciting. When I take pictures, I want to make people wish that they were at the location of where I took the picture. My project is to take good photographs of nature and stars. When I see a cool view, I take a picture without hesitation. To me, seeing something natural is more intriguing than something that is man made. It really makes me think about why this particular object formed in a particular way. My work typically shows landscape shots, but with a focus. For example the focus can be a small object like a barn in a large field. Wilson A Bentley inspires my work. He takes pictures of snowflakes, and the pictures are very interesting. It really shows that no two snowflakes are ever the same. It is also cool because seeing something close up can show a different perspective and tell a different story than if it were far away. If the picture was far away, than you would not be able to see the lines in the snow flakes.
Claire Bender ’18
I find that more than in any other medium, photography captures a specific moment in time that can never be exactly replicated. I have been taking photos and have been interested in photography since I got my first phone at 13 years old. I got my first “real” camera when I was a freshman in high school and that’s when my passion and excitement for photography exponentially grew. What gets me excited about photography are the endless possibilities for projects and the moments that I could capture; this helps with the expansion of my artistic horizon. Unique angles are definitely one of the recurring visual themes within my work. Sometimes if I am on a shoot and I am a bit stuck as to what to take a picture of, I will approach my subject from a different angle, and it often produces very strong photographs. I find beauty in those unseen facets of the human experience. Being where the history of people and places intersect really fascinates me; I get an overwhelming urge to capture that history and sense of awe. Since that overwhelming feeling of awe is almost instinctual, it is difficult to limit my creativity; I trust my instincts.
Photography inspires me to go out into the world and look in a more detailed fashion at everyday things. A picture of a tire tread or snow on a sleeve is not only fun to look at but it captures many things that other people might not see. For example, how the image of the snow on the sleeve can also be pictured as a mountain covered in snow and lots of water. The images show how fun experimenting with details is like with the snow tread and the snowball, finding new things to talk about and little tiny shapes inside of a big image. Finding details can lead to discussions between other photographers about how the images are compared and contrast. Photography is a very detailed form of art and looking closer can make it more fun and detailed than meets the eye.
The Camera is not a tool, it’s a story maker. I am excited in photography because it allows me to record the beautiful moments in my life. In my pictures that I take, people can know what I see and how those objects look like in my eyes. When I see an object, it has picture in my mind, it looks different after I take the picture.