Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Discussing Workshop, Ruth Bernhard

The following is from an article in Aperture where photographers discussed their methods for handling workshops. 

A person interested in expressing with a camera should have a wide range of interests; joi de vivre is vital ingredient too. Everything we know, feel, have ever experienced provides the basic elements for our creativity.

One of the first assignments I set for my students involves the question of communication. We begin at the verbal level because photographers, regardless of their ability, are usually more word-minded than visual-minded. Even so, since we are dealing with something which is deeply important to them, few students are able really to be articulate when talking about their own work. This, of course, creates a block when, for example, I may ask a student to tell me why he chose a stairway to photograph. Usually we do not get very far. But in general discussion the group as a whole can analyze the pictures freely, for they feel more detached from the image. But they are not as detached as they believe; at this point they simply are unaware that in talking about photographs they really are talking about themselves.

By this and other exercises I try to bring to the students a fuller awareness that photographic images can reach into dimensions that words cannot touch. As the Haiku poem of Japanese literature, the expressive photograph provides many implications to carry the viewer to poetic imagery. The beginning student, however, finds that before he can reach out to others he must first become acquainted with his own feeling and clarify his relationship with himself. In the process of visual exploration he discovers himself in photographs which cause him to respond.

For most of my students this is a new approach to looking at photographs. All have had some experience with the camera and know at least a little technique, but with this method they soon realize that, although taking a photograph is easy, putting one’s vision into film and into a print is quite a different matter.

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