Project part 1 – Advanced Photography

First new pictures of the year…I’ve been sitting on them for weeks now.  Here is the beginning of my semester-long personal project.  For the benefit of the readers, I am covering the making of my film, by documenting what I do, and my own mental state while doing it.  I am attempting to communicate apathy, exhaustion, and burnout, and this is a project that was really spurned on by my classmates’ insistence, as well as lack of any better ideas.  Below, I have my thoughts on the class critique.

Immediate impressions: I suppose the critique went well, though it still seems that my classmates still have a better conception of what I’m doing than I do. I think that everyone has a concept of what “a film” is, and that won’t necessarily be what I make, and I wonder if that has an effect on what they expect from the photo project, as well as what the finished film will actually be.  I’m happy to have the direction in the photo project, as without it, I don’t think I’d know what to do, but still, coming into the critique, my conception was that I was taking pictures of myself and my workspace, and I did that twice a day.  Thinking about the conception now that the critique is over, I’ll confess that I probably feel less sure moving ahead.  The critique itself is now little more than a blur, but the points that do stand out are that something about it isn’t necessarily working.  But how big a part is that?  I had several people over the last few weeks tell me how much they were looking forward to seeing what I was doing.  Really?  Because it is just pictures of me.  And the state of my bedroom (that was my standard response).

Now that I’ve had more time to think about it: I feel like the conception for this project belongs to the class as much as to (more than?) myself, and as such, I think the critique was successful, because the class’s response was quite favorable.  I never really thought of myself as making crowd-pleasing work before, and really, I found the reactions to be on the whole, very gratifying.  Thought it’s not something I’d say I ever let influence me in the past, still it’s nice to be loved now and again, and have the validation of my peers.  I suppose I’m doing this work for them even more than for myself.  The way I look at it, I’ve been in my own world with most of my projects, doing my own thing, and if people like it, great! but it wouldn’t bother me if they didn’t.  This time, I actually feel some sort of glimmer of hope, like success and financial independence are within my grasp.  I suppose that there might be a difference in results between art that is made completely independently from art that is made either for hire, or just playing up to your fans.  Pretty much every painter, sculptor, composer, etc would have had a patron before the 1800s, and afterward, there were people like Paganini and Liszt (I’m sure there are plenty of other examples) who definitely played up to their fans.

One of the praises that confuses me the most was the narrow depth of field in pictures of my environment, like socks.  Guys, I’m using 200 speed film that doesn’t push very well, pretty much I’m just trying to keep things steady enough to be clear, and using fast normal lenses wide open is kind of the easiest way to do it, as it’s too much trouble to set up a tripod every morning/evening.  Even then my handheld speeds get down to 1/8sec sometimes, so it’s really a nice surprise for me when they turn out at all.  I guess I have steady hands.

I don’t understand yet how to make the march of time apparent, except to follow suggestions about starting off with a shorter beard.  I suppose my beard is getting a bit long and unmanageable, it might be beneficial to give it a trim, and I’ve been thinking of doing that for my film anyway, but at the end.  I’ll have to see if I can work it in sooner, preferably before the weekend.  I think I’m up for having a long-running sequence of what I’m shooting for the film underneath the 8x10s, but it’s really only half of the film (the rest being super 8 which won’t be sent off for processing until I’ve shot all of it), and what I have right now is just more pictures of me but shot by other people.  In fact, there were some hiccups with that, and half my footage from last week isn’t there, which makes it a bit hard, but I’m sure I could come up with something, as long as it’s just going to be cut-up strips of contact sheets, because I don’t know if I have time/energy for printing more than that.  I don’t see how the blurry pictures of myself communicate exhaustion/burnout more than something where you can actually see my eyes clearly, but whatever, I’ll do it.  Some of the suggestions were things that I’d already been doing, so that gives me less ideas moving forward than I could want, but I’ll try not to let it get me down.

What am I planning for the future?  I just have to keep laying down track, so that means a picture of myself and my workspace (at this time it’s still primarily the bedroom) every morning/evening.  Also, when I’m out working on the film, I’ve taken stills when I can, though recently it’s all been super 8 footage and not always possible to whip out the Pentax or Canon from my backpack when my hands are already full.  However, I do have some shots of me in the school recording studio editing dialog, and I’ll see about taking pictures when I have meetings with Jane or anything else I’m doing.  I have some pictures inside my shooting locations from last week, and that roll of film was developed I think Wednesday, so too late to use for critique.  I just finished off another one this morning, so that’s already two rolls that I’ve shot without the benefit of post-critique redirection and I wonder how usable they’ll be.  I’ll decide by Saturday whether or not to trim the beard.  Besides that, I don’t really know what I should be doing differently as far as my modus operandi, I suppose I can make sure I’m shooting wide open with the selfies (right now it’s f/2.8 at 1/8 to 1/30 depending on how much light I have) to make sure I don’t accidentally get my face in focus.

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