I’ve been shamefully neglecting this blog as I’ve struggled through the last two Photo Class assignments and crammed for the Midterm. The Midterm I think I did surprisingly well on, considering how much trouble equivalent exposure equations have given me (if you don’t know what this is, don’t ask. Just meter and you’ll never need to know.)

As for the last two shooting assignments (see the details in the last post), hmmm. Not so good. A grade of B. And a not very enthusiastic B. She remarked that, while I’d figured out the incredibly detailed technical aspects of the assignment, my subject matter was prosaic. Which, well, yes it was, BUT. . .The assignment was so technical and so specific, it pretty much necessitated working with easily sourced and mostly stationary subjects (for the aperture assignment) and subjects who were willing to repeat their movements ad nauseum (for the motion assignment.) I thought it was a bit much to demand some sort of groundbreaking, envelope-pushing subject matter when we’re all still struggling to get aperture and shutter settings right. But, if I can indulge in sour grapes, I think my photographic interests are never going to come up to what my professor thinks is worthy subject matter.

I should have been tipped off when, in the numerous slide shows we have in class, the professor never shows any Ansel Adams, but bombards us with the gritty urban imagery of Nan Goldin’s drug addicts, Robert Mapplethorpe’s leather men, and Diane Arbus’s freaks.

Once we’d tacked our assignment pictures to the wall and undergone a critique, it was pretty clear what she’d meant for this assignment, was not to follow the technical directions explicitly, but to create art. And she was mightily disappointed that most of the class, in a desperate attempt to master the technicalities of the assignments, had resorted to pictures of their dogs running, friends jumping and banks of flowers.

“There”, she announced, putting a Larry Clark shot of his 8 months pregnant sister shooting up heroin, “this is a fabulous picture.”

My choices now seem to be, to start haunting the seamier parts of the Tenderloin and the Mission, befriending drug addicts, street walkers and gender-benders. Or continue photographing what I’m interested in while risking a small measure of scorn.

I’ll take Door Number Two for a B-minus, please.

By the way, here’s the latest assignment, due April 10th.


Produce a contact sheet and 5 prints for each part of the assignment.

A) Frame a picture where the main subject is placed off-center at the key intersections according to the rule of thirds (a good explanation here.)

B) Frame pictures that are symetrical with the subject in the exact center of the frame.

C) Frame pictures so the subjects are presented asymmetrically.

Now the subject matter dilemma: Tahoe scenes or dead hookers.