Saturday, May 07, 2011

A matter of uneducated opinion

As always I have been neglecting my blog because of school, work and life in general. I happen to be about to finish two classes that both required photos each week. So I have been taking a lot, but not so many that I was excited enough about to come write a blog. Until today, well yesterday but the motivation came today.

One of my classes required us to take a series of images each week and submit them to the instructor only, the rest of the class did not see any of them until this week. The point of the series is to either create a series of images that could be used in a advertisement campaign or a series of images in a journalistic style. At the end we will choose 8 images from all of the course that are appropriate for the style we chose to shoot in.

Considering that more than one of my instructors have told me that they struggle to get me to shoot a series of images outside of a journalistic style, which I have never done intentionally it just happens that way, I choose to do the journalistic style and use Stephen's hawk to create  a series of photos that pretty much represents falconry through the spouses eyes, because I am no falconer but I live with one and believe me not being a falconer does not prevent falconry from taking over the spouse's life.

Late last night I posted my set of images from this week. Here they are:

There are three additional photos of the hawk having dinner, Stephen ask me not to post them so I won't. Really those three images were a huge step across a line that I have not crossed before. I never stick around for feeding, I don't care to deal with feeding, to see it or photograph it. Stephen fed the hawk and I didn't realize what he had done until I had already snapped a few shots. I included those three images in my post to my instructor because realistically the hawk eats, it is part of nature and something that a falconer must deal with, and something that the falconer's family must learn to live with.

Any way, you get the general idea here, its photos all about the hawk.   My instructor's response was this:

What you need to work on is the composition. When you shoot close up images, you will really need to pay attention on every detail in the frame. Take a look at George Reis’s assignment for this week. He has shot his airplane model in variety that will make the story more interesting. His carefully cropped images are great as well, and he chose the frame and DOF to bring the viewer’s eye to the center focus of the image.

You can use the same approach with hawk. Image1_1 is a slightly underexposed but handsome image of hawk.  This image is earthestically successful because of the diagonal line that the hawk’s feather and entire face create. Image 2 needs more structural element like image 1. While keeping the artistic composition, you also need to illustrate what it is in the image so the viewer who does not know the subject you are shooting can understand what it is. Image3 can work in the project as long as it has the same concept as other images. Image3_1 seems good for the composition, and the mouse does not look too bad there.

So now I feel compelled to post the images that she wanted me to "look" at. First let me say this, George Reis is a student in one of my classes, he has posted some amazing work, and a couple of my other instructors always post previous student's assignments as an example of how our assignment should be assembled. George's assignments seem to be a favorite among many of my instructors and with good reason. He does pretty good work and my argument here has nothing to do with the quality of his work, because I personally have really liked the work that I have seen. So here are the images:

Now bear in mind that the assignment could either be an advertisement or a journalistic style. It is obvious to me that George went for the advertisement style of images. He did in deed capture great images of his product.  However he is shooting clean shots to depict the product that would be for sale. I am shooting a story that informs the viewer about the subject. So George has three close up images, dead on shots, good images but if I was reading a story or listening to a wild life channel, these three images wouldn't add a lot of character, they are product shots, straight forward, white background, even light, perfect for showing the viewer what they would get if they purchased the product, not so great for showing the character of the product. Do these images say, I am mysterious or dangerous, no that is not the intent nor the result. Now I have three close up images of Shilo's face. I chose more contrasty light to show character, not that she disputed the light, she said my composition was off and should be more like George's composition, well umm I am not selling a product, I am showing character, straight forward images on white background with even light wouldn't show that. She also said my first image is under exposed, well that is a matter of opinion, and not my opinion what so ever.

Moving on, George has three images that are not so close in and have a longer depth of field, in other words the entire image is in focus. My images are of Shilo's feet, showing his talons and jessies.The instructor indicated that I needed " to illustrate what it is in the image so the viewer who does not know the subject you are shooting can understand what it is" I took this to mean that a viewer not familiar with a hawk wouldn't know what the images were of. Now this is where my mouth fell open. Well before Stephen trapped a live hawk, even before he bought 101 books about hawks, hell before I met Stephen, when I was in 2nd grade, I could have looked at those three images and knew right away that those were the feet of a bird, a bird with very large claws. Does the instructor think that my viewers are un-intelligent, two year olds that don't know what a birds foot looks like? Hello even my 2 year old knows that Shilo's feet have claws and can hurt you! If my instructor or any other viewer looks at these three images and don't know that they are the feet of a bird of some sort, they should go back to elementary school and review their science book because I feel sure that this was covered before I moved on to middle school. Not to mention that these assignments are suppose to be done in a manor as if we had been hired for a shoot and needed to produce the images for the client. They are suppose to be images usable in real life. So let us be realistic here. The average joe is not going to hire someone to take photos of a hawk in order to sell their air plane, coffee or toy cars. Someone hiring a photographer to capture images of a hawk is going to be doing some project related to hunting, falconry or wildlife. These people would hopefully want images that captured the significant details about the subject. Ask any falconer and I think you will find that the hawk's feet and those leather thingies and bells around his leg are pretty damn important to the subject . (that would be bells and jessies Stephen, I do know the name but apparently my instructor don't have a clue)

I can't even be bothered to read the rest of her comments or to respond to them. The bottom line is, if you want to tell me I should shoot more like someone else maybe it would be a good idea to pick a student that chose the same style for the assignment as I did. You can't compare advertisement photography to journalistic photography it is apples and oranges, both very important and both have potential of amazing photography but they are different things, used differently and done differently. Not to mention that from day one, over a year ago, when I started this degree in photography there has been huge weight put into the idea that we each need to develop our own style of shooting and our own creative view of every subject, well damn it, this is my view of falconry from a spouses stand point, if you don't want to see the images of a hawk eating a mouse and you are not impressed with the subject you had a chance in week 1 (5 weeks ago) to tell me then that the subject was not appropriate for the course and I could have been giving these images to my other instructor and you could have got the freaking images of flowers growing in my yard!

On that note I did take a couple of shots of flowers in my yard, then per my class assignment I altered them in PhotoShop, so completely off the topic here are a couple of those images too!

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