It’s hard to believe that it’s already over, but it was a truly amazing experience. Before I embarked on this journey, I really didn’t believe that I had much of a relationship with photography. It was as you’d expect any other teenager’s to be; I’d whip out my iphone to snap a shot of friends during some momentous occasion in our lives (or what we considered to be a momentous occasion). But as I consider it more, I did and always have had some kind of relationship with photography. I’ve learned that it’s not always about perfection in photographs; every shot doesn’t necessarily have to be staged and professional. Of course, before I took this class, I had no idea about the art of photography and the technique involved. However, during the class, as I learned more about the technique involved in photography, I found myself doing the same thing that I always have. I was photographing friends and people on the street in their everyday lives; of course I made use of what I had learned, but the concept was still the same. More than anything, I’ve found that my relationship with photography was not altered at all over the course of the trip, merely enhanced. As I go forth and continue to grow as a photographer, I know that I will continue to photograph in the same manner that I always have; the photos may just turn out differently.
Whilst exploring the museums and galleries these past two weeks I have noticed stark differences between the portraits in the museums (such as the Louvre) and those found in the galleries. The painted portrait is one that allows for creative license from the artist; it is, in that way, less true to reality in most cases. Portraits, especially those of the monarchs, attempted to portray what the artist perceived to be perfection; they were without flaw and oftentimes displayed extravagance. I have always been fascinated with every detail of the painted photograph and have always enjoyed museums. However, it was always my frustration that they always seemed so perfect. In fact I realized that the artist could do whatever he/she wanted to the picture; they could alter the subject however they saw fit. Of course, with today’s technology it is possible to alter the nature of the photograph, but in the early years of photography, it was raw and displayed its subject in his/her true light. By no means do photographs aim to capture perfection in its subject, but to capture a moment in time forever. Similarly, the photographed portrait oftentimes ignores the background altogether in an attempt to highlight the person. No extravagance is necessary. It is most likely for this reason that I enjoy portraiture; I am able to keep memories forever, flaws and all.
The trip to the photographer’s gallery was amazing and extremely enlightening. I was fascinated with the Tom Wood exhibition on Men and Women because of the way he was able to capture these people. It was explained to us that he would often take pictures without even looking through the viewfinder and yet he was able to capture some truly amazing photographs. I can’t even imagine, considering that when I take pictures, I have to line up my shot perfectly before I can accept the shot. Of course, yt favorite exhibition was “Shoot! Existential Photography” because of the how abstract the concept was. I spent a good amount of time in the room displaying Steven Pippin’s shots after shooting his own camera. It was something that I had never in my life seen before and, honestly, I was shocked that the pictures turned out as amazing as they had. The highlight had to be the shooting gallery; hitting the bullseye was the most exiting moment for me because I was able to have my picture taken. That is a moment that I will never forget.
Mr. Fox Talbot,
Since the start of this class, I have begun to develop a newfound respect for photography and how it can affect me and the world around me. To be perfectly honest, before I signed up for this class, I knew absolutely nothing about photography, except what I’ve seen from friends. I was always curious about the art, but never had the opportunity to take a class or learn anything more. Therefore, when presented with the opportunity to finally take this class, I jumped on it and have learned so much in the short time that I’ve been here. In addition to being presented with the opportunity to explore new places and see new sights, I know so much more about who I am and who I am becoming. One of the things that photography has made me realize is my interest in the people that I surround myself with. Though I found the landscapes of Paris and London to be absolutely beautiful and I have (hopefully) captured their beauty well enough through my camera, I was extremely fascinated with not only my friends and classmates, but a stranger on the street as well. I was consumed with portraits (including many awkward “selfies” as they came to be known) and filled my memory card with the faces of the people around me. Since I was in elementary school, I can remember being fascinated with other cultures and, as it would seem, the best way to absorb other cultures is through the study of its people. I now know that, as I continue on learning and expanding as a photographer, that I will continue to learn about the world around me through the study of its people.
Well the first day in London was not exactly what I had expected it to be. It started out incredibly, I really enjoyed the ride on the Eurostar (though I slept for a majority of it). Leaving Paris behind was hard to do, but I was definitely excited to experience English culture firsthand. When we first arrived it was, as I expected, a bit foggy and gray, but I was immediately impressed with the sights and people. Upon arriving at the hotel, I was amazed at its splendor; never in my life had I been to a hotel so extravagant. Anna and I were amazed with our room and after taking all in, we decided to explore the area a bit before heading down to Buckingham Palace with some other students. Of course, our first destination was a telephone booth to snap a few touristy shots. Then it was off to the palace, which was a bit smaller than I had expected it to be, but was amazing in every other way. Of course, we could only spend so much time there due to the frigid cold and headed off in search of fish and chips. We happened across an adorable little pub and enjoyed a hearty meal of fish and chips before heading back to the hotel. Unfortunately, on the way back, I noticed that I had side pain and ended up spending the next couple of hours in the hospital. At any rate, I was released and excited to see what other wonders London had to offer.
This was probably the most challenging assignment that we’ve had since the class began. I cannot honestly say with certainty who exactly I am or who it is that I aspire to be, however, that’s really a part of the journey. So throughout high school and into my now completed first quarter of college, I have played the field trying new things in an attempt to gain some self-awareness and by taking this class, I have discovered so many things about myself. Art, in itself, allows for true expression without boundaries and it is also the most revealing. By taking a photography class, I have noticed certain things about myself that I was previously unaware of and I’m excited by that fact. I realize that my photographs are a true expression of who I am and in the past, that was something that I was missing. Before taking this class, I was extremely oblivious to those around me; passing people on the street without any regard. However, behind the lens of a camera, I have discovered that I notice more about the strangers that I surround myself with on a daily basis as well as those who are close to me. I now know that I love taking portraits of people and that I genuinely love people and by continuing to photograph the world around me, I hope to gain so much more.
I found the cemetery at Père Lachaise to be one of the most beautiful that I have seen. Each headstone was intricately carved with such detail; it would seem that they themselves are works of art. I absolutely had no difficulty photographing the amazing sights while there and while doing so, found that I was fascinated with those who were buried there. Being in the presence of so many influential people was surreal and made me all the more interested in learning more about them. I picked a few very different people to highlight here.
Oscar Wilde: I was particularly fascinated with Irish author Oscar Wilde. His style of writing is one that I was not entirely familiar with before taking this class, though I had previously been introduced to some of his works, including The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray. I decided that his would be one of the names that I would research further. He was born in Dublin, Ireland in the mid nineteenth century to a poet and a doctor. What most interested me about Wilde was his flamboyance and by the fact that he was unique (though his looks and ideals were often scrutinized). He received severe critique from the public on his works and yet, he continued to write, dress and behave in ways that starkly contrasted what was considered acceptable in the Victorian Era. I consider his works to be truly influential because the ideas that he presented altered how people perceived controversial topics of the time; he made people think in ways that they had never been forced to think about before and in the end he was able to be a incite change in the world around him.
Edith Piaf: Though her work starkly contrasts that of Wilde, Edith Piaf made her name known in France and was able to inspire and induce change in the world around her. Born in 1915 in France, Piaf began her singing career at an early age, performing with her father in his acrobatic street performances. From there, her singing career truly began to take off and she began to perform internationally, influencing audiences around the world. She began to write her own lyrics; ballads about her life and experiences which allowed for a personal connection to be made with her many fans. During World War 2 , she was known for singing to members of German Forces and was considered to be a traitor, though it was discovered that she was able to help a few victims escape Nazi forces while remaining an international celebrity. She will forever be considered one of the most renowned performers in all of French history.
Pierre Cartellier: Unlike the two aforementioned figures, I had no previous knowledge of Pierre Cartellier, but was interested in learning more about his career as a sculptor and how that was able to have such an affect on his community that he would be placed among such prominent figures. He was born in Paris on December 2nd, 1757 and was a prominent sculptor during the French Revolution. His works were some of the most highly regarded of his time and was even asked to sculpt King Louis XIV, which his son completed after his death in 1831. He was adorned with the Order of Saint-Michel and became a member of the Legion of Honor and the Institut de France. His sculpture of Dominique Vivant garnish’s his tomb at Père Lachaise cemetery today and his works remain an important facet of French history.