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  1. #11

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    okay, here are some basic beginning photo assignments
    -- pick a single subject (scene, place, object) that promises to look good from a distance as well as up real close ..... take one or two rolls of film and begin shooting it from a scene-setting distance thru middle distances to extreme closeups, and along the way try to find as many different angles of view as you can
    -- experiment with depth of field or with motion (or both) -- for dof, find subjects that you think would look best with sharpness from foreground to background, then seek out subjects that would look good isolated against a softly focused background or foreground-- shoot the former with small apertures and shoot the latter with larger apertures and close distances (or longer lenses) ..... for motion, pick a subject that's moving in a repeating fashion and experiment with slow and fast shutter speeds
    -- experiment with composition by loading up some film and going hunting for contrasts, or for lines, or for boundaries, or for rhythm/pattern, or for formal vs assymetrical balance, or for texture, etc.

  2. #12
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    Hip
    Tip
    Slip
    Trip
    Strip

    Think of it as a visual scavenger hunt. Find them. Post them. You now have an audience.

  3. #13
    DBP
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    Here's a link to the manuals for training US Navy photographers http://www.tpub.com/content/photography/. You may find some useful ideas.

  4. #14
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    To answer your question - What do the photography programs teach?
    I've just finished first semester:
    Foundation Studies - Camera skills ( angle of view, DoF, exposure), darkroom skills,
    Photographic Practise - Choose two from Still Life, Landscape or Portrait, research, produce set of images.
    Historical Studies - from Fox Talbot to 1960's.

    reading list: Bruce Warren - Photography, Sontag - On Photography, Liz Wells - Photo Reader & Critical Introduction

    When i was stuck for ideas for my assignments the advice the lecturers gave was - Just start photographing. And it works, the ideas develop as you go along.

    Good luck

    Tony
    regards,

    Tony

  5. #15
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    I can't tell you what the photography programs teach.

    I can offer you this advice about the rest.

    Stop big braining it. Just shoot. The rest will follow.

    Your creative mind is at least four years ahead of your cognitive mind.

    Stop second guessing it.

  6. #16

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    I remember a few of my assignments; Landscape, Macro or Close up, Abstract, Pick a photographer and emulate, find an image that distorts an image and leads you to believe it's something else, portrait, self-portrait. I remember only really putting 100% into the assignments that I was interested in. Otherwise, I taught myself maybe 65%, the rest I picked up through APUG, photo.net, the internet and books.

    Classes are cool to show off in, or even to make friends with. It's fun sometimes to shoot with people, but no one likes 'that guy'.
    There was one, he wasn't really very good, didn't care about photography. Or taking pictures. Or even his camera but it was a minty Canon F1. Jerk. Wanted to sell it for a 'new' one. The teacher and I kept telling him to sell it to us, but then we'd tell him to keep it. Argh.

  7. #17
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    Assignments can keep you shooting...

    Here are some we had to do:

    1) Day in the life of your town/city (on one roll): dawn to dusk, rush hour, lunch time, garbage trucks, etc. Purpose: pacing, planning, endurance.

    2) Cover a public demonstration: act like a reporter, get the 'decisive moments'. Purpose: sizing up an event, anticipation, engagement of bystanders, feeling comfortable snapping strangers.

    3) Asking: Go someplace public, 24 frames, ask and get 24 people pictures, complete strangers. No covertness. Hint: tell them you are a photography student. Works best with obvious 'student' camera. May take you all day. Purpose: Grow balls, capture interesting people, engaging them, etc.

    4) Seeing Things: Capture light and shadow in interesting ways or from different perspective. Window reflections, sunlight on streetcar tracks, nighttime cityscapes, mirror reflections, ripples, shooting straight up or down, or from ground level, shadows, etc. Purpose: learning to see what light does.

    5) Motion and zoom: Freezing motion with fast shutter, blurring with slow shutter, panning with moving cars, people -- blurring background, zoom out on objects moving toward/away. Purpose: basic mechanics to adding drama.

    6) Self-Documentary: Photo-document your hobbies and chores. Make a story-board. Purpose: telling a personal story.

    We generally struggled, procrastinated, pushed and stretched, and then mostly surprised ourselves.

    D.

  8. #18
    Richard Boutwell's Avatar
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    This got to be longer than I intended, but there was much to cover.

    I basically did the same thing you are trying to do, but I took two community college courses to get me started. Taking those two classes might not have taught me much more than how to expose and develop film and make less than acceptable prints, but it did put me in an environment where there were a few other serious students and we were all energized by our interactions.

    So your question was, "what do they teach in school?" It depends on the school, and your interests—something you neglected to mention.

    Maybe the most important thing school teaches you to be able to talk about (or defend) your work.

    Another important aspect is that it enables you to think in different directions based on all you see going on around you. It might not have a direct influence on what you are doing, but indirectly, it is all important—either by planting the seeds for growth or solidifying your convictions about your work.

    If you know how your camera works, there is no need for "assignments." If you want to learn about lighting, buy some lights and book on the basics and go to town (one definite benefit of school is having the tools at your disposal that you might not be able to afford on your own). If you want to learn non-silver then buy a kit and get to it. It isn't that hard—As someone else said, you learn by doing and looking. So do and look all you can.

    As for what you should read? Not having at least a basic understanding of what brought about the world of photography as we now know it is inexcusable.

    The short list:
    1: Beaumont Newhall's History of photography. Yes, it is biased, but it covers everything you need to know up until the 50's. Then you can get into the Gersheim's or the Rosenblume's books.

    2: Vickey Goldberg's Photography in Print.

    3: As Tony mentioned, Liz Wells - Photo Reader & Critical Introduction are decent choices.

    4: Robert Adams Why People Photograph and Beauty in Photography (those two books may help you solve all your problems immediately)

    5: The introductions to any Photographer's books who's work you respond to. Go to the library if you can't afford to buy the books.

    Then, if you are really courageous, you should read Sontag's books (I think reading that in the first term/year is just dumb and would have made me throw my camera into the ocean).

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrey View Post
    I found a medium that I like.
    I have the equipment which I like.

    I don't know what to shoot.

    I don't have a purpose to trip that shutter.

    Subjects and themes turn me away for different reasons... starting from "it's been done" to "this will only excite me"
    Wow, are you sure you haven't been to art school?

    I'll address your last comment first. Exciting you is the absolutely most important thing you can do. If you worry about not exciting the viewer, whatever you do will not be true. And if it isn't the truth, then what is the point? In actuality, the more you work for/from your own excitement the more it will touch other people.

    The ubiquitous "it's all been done before" comment is useless. There haven't been any real innovations since the 70's—everything has been repackaged. The sooner you move away from that preoccupation of making something "fresh" the better off you will be. Again, the only thing you can do is present the truth— whatever that might mean for you.

    Just go out and see what is there. "Throwing paint at the canvas" is exactly what you are doing. But you aren't "hoping something sticks" you are discovering what sticks. There is no reason to think you should have it down after photographing for two years. That is what the formative years are for.

    You don't know what to shoot? And you don't have a reason to press the shutter?

    If you are really meant to be a photographer, then you will be driven to photograph, the world will provide that for you.
    ". . . photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium and letting it do what it does best- describe. And respect for the subject in describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both."-- Garry Winogrand

    "Art is just a Series of Natural Gestures."-- John Marin

    My Platinum Printing Blog

    My WEBSITE

  9. #19
    Richard Boutwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David William White View Post
    Here are some we had to do:

    1) Day in the life of your town/city (on one roll): dawn to dusk, rush hour, lunch time, garbage trucks, etc. Purpose: pacing, planning, endurance.

    2) Cover a public demonstration: act like a reporter, get the 'decisive moments'. Purpose: sizing up an event, anticipation, engagement of bystanders, feeling comfortable snapping strangers.

    3) Asking: Go someplace public, 24 frames, ask and get 24 people pictures, complete strangers. No covertness. Hint: tell them you are a photography student. Works best with obvious 'student' camera. May take you all day. Purpose: Grow balls, capture interesting people, engaging them, etc.

    4) Seeing Things: Capture light and shadow in interesting ways or from different perspective. Window reflections, sunlight on streetcar tracks, nighttime cityscapes, mirror reflections, ripples, shooting straight up or down, or from ground level, shadows, etc. Purpose: learning to see what light does.

    5) Motion and zoom: Freezing motion with fast shutter, blurring with slow shutter, panning with moving cars, people -- blurring background, zoom out on objects moving toward/away. Purpose: basic mechanics to adding drama.

    6) Self-Documentary: Photo-document your hobbies and chores. Make a story-board. Purpose: telling a personal story.

    We generally struggled, procrastinated, pushed and stretched, and then mostly surprised ourselves.

    D.
    I really feel the point the assignments teach is to be aware. Aware of what the camera is capable of, and being aware of what is around you. The former can be learned from a book. The latter . . . well, some people never get it. That is why there is the rule of thirds, and why they tell you not to cut off the top of the steeple.
    ". . . photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium and letting it do what it does best- describe. And respect for the subject in describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both."-- Garry Winogrand

    "Art is just a Series of Natural Gestures."-- John Marin

    My Platinum Printing Blog

    My WEBSITE

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Boutwell View Post
    Then, if you are really courageous, you should read Sontag's books (I think reading that in the first term/year is just dumb and would have made me throw my camera into the ocean).


    Funny. It's the first book on philosophy of art/photography I picked up by chance. Before that it was either elements of graphic design or just technical cameraworks/posing/light placements.

    Wow, are you sure you haven't been to art school?
    Nah, it's more of an engineering approach. Message, audience, medium in finite timeframes and on a certain budget.

    Thanks for the advice. It's really helpful.

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