Arno River, Firenze, Italia

Arno River, Firenze, Italia

Sunday, November 21, 2010

As stealthy as an assassin.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

“Some people have said I am too blunt, that I criticize you too harshly.  But this is just the way I was taught.  Perhaps a few of you are not strong enough, that if I push too hard, you might break.  Well, if it comes to that, let’s see what you can do with the pieces.”

“So, Brie, would you like to show me your pieces today?  No pressure.  I can give you some suggestions, help you along.”  Dripping with sweetness and laced with a tinge of sarcasm, Simone tossed these words in my direction.

Another day in digital photography.  My six hour class has followed a path of severe undulations. 
The first day, I was charged with confidence, a complete amateur, camera in hand, its features and abilities still a mystery. 

For the following several weeks, I was swimming in a wide open space, photographs floating around me, completely lost and confused, pulling the trigger of my Canon Rebel at anything that passed me, as though I had been placed, blindfolded, into a ring of bandits and wished only to survive. 

Now, I have fine-tuned my senses, aware of the factors involved, taking advantage of light and composition and layers.  The camera is no longer alien, but an extension of my hand, its strap wrapped possessively around my wrist.  I am a conscious shooter, as stealthy as an assassin. 

Yet, in a way, I am still lost.  Each picture an attempt at perfection, that moment when my professor Simone, all Italian, kisses his fingers and swings his arm freely in the air, an exclamation of delight.  Perfection.  But they are far and few between.  And sometimes I am left in complete confusion.  Why this one?  Why this picture?  Why not the other?

The key to photography I have learned is not to take a beautiful picture.  But to take a beautiful, well-composed picture, that has your name written into every shadow and highlight.  A picture that is distinctly yours.  A picture that represents personal style and consistency. 

Every photographer is forced to throw away beautiful pictures for this sole reason.  And as a beginner, new to the game, my emotions have been stretched as thin as wire, taut, vibrating with energy.  Because something happens when you take what you know to be a beautiful photo; you get this adrenaline boost of excitement: This is it.  This is the one.  It’s perfect. 

And then, back in the lab, you come to the cold realization: it doesn’t fit.  While perfect in every way, it is not your style.  It doesn’t belong to you.  And you must rip it from your grasp, leave it, unstarred, unchosen.  It ceases to exist.  It disappears, as if it was never captured at all. 

This is why I am still the amateur, still swimming in that sea of possibilities.  How am I to devote myself to one style and leave the others behind?  How am I to commit?  My eye, lacking this severe focus, sees everything at once, and everything as good.

For class this past week, I tried to hone in my senses.  And I was rewarded with direction and approval:  the start, according to my professor Simone and his assistant Eleanor, of a great portfolio.  Here is my final collection in progress.

Mirror self-portrait.
Via Fra Giovanne Angelico, Firenze, Italia.

Morning biker at Piazza Indipendenza.
Firenze, Italia.

Vineyard at Castello Verrazzano.
Greve in Chianti, Italia.

Absent nightlife.
Firenze, Italia.

Portrait of Kait.
San Marco, Firenze, Italia.

Boot shadow.
Firenze, Italia.

Portrait of Megan.
San Marco, Firenze, Italia.

Mercato Centrale near San Lorenzo.
Firenze, Italia.

Overlooking the monastery.
San Marco, Firenze, Italia.

Dairy and parmesan cheese farm.
Parma, Italia.

The last two are of a seperate growing portfolio (according to my prof).  They lack the empty, simplicity of the above collection, but maintain a similar color palette.  They both have a central figure within a crowded environment.  I am still building on this.

"My culture = my democracy."
Protests in the streets.
November 17, 2010.
Piazza dei Ciompi, Firenze, Italia.

The carousel.
Piazza della Repubblica, Firenze, Italia.

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