Apologies. It's been a while since the blog was updated. And Happy New Year!
In the spirit of new beginnings and new exchanges I thought it might be interesting to begin a new feature. I don't know about you but I love showing my students films about photography. There's no substitute for having a photographer visit your classroom. We were very fortunate to have the wonderful Nick Waplington visit before the Christmas holidays. But school budgets, pressures of time and the difficulty of making contact with busy professional artists means these opportunities are relatively rare. The next best thing, in my opinion, is sharing the thoughts of photographers in the form of video clips found on the Internet. Thankfully, these are in plentiful supply.
So, I'm hoping that you will play along in this game of #photofilmpingpong. The idea is simple. I'll serve a video to you via the blog, explaining why I like it and how I use it in the classroom. You return the serve with a video URL of your own choosing and a similar brief explanation (using the comments below or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org). I'll then publish this as a new blog post and, with a bit of luck, we can continue to exchange our favourite resources over the coming months.
I'm serving a beautiful film about the American photographer Stephen Shore. Hopefully, you know it already. There are lots of Shore-related films on the Internet but this one is my favourite. He's never not interesting to listen to. He's as economical and wise with words as he is with the camera. It might seem odd to share a film about the use of equipment most students will never have access to - an 8x10 view camera. However, what Shore says about photography in this film is timeless and relevant. He describes the way that photographs compress time and can contain lots of different types of information - perceptual, psychological and medium specific. He explains that his interest is in looking at the "ordinary, everyday world with clear and focused attention." I can't think of a better way to explain the purpose of photography to young people. But he continues to explore the notion of visual thinking. This, for me, is what makes this film so special.
There's a kind of visual thinking that goes on that is without words and not just words spoken but not even words in one's head. Most people think thinking has to do with words, this little voice in your head, but there's a visual thinking that doesn't have that.
This lovely little film ends with another powerful story. Shore compares learning the craft of photography to a young child learning to walk who spends all her time concentrating hard on the technical issues of putting one foot in front of another. Not until she can walk confidently does she have much time to think about where she is going. Having spent 10 years discovering the formal properties of the medium, Shore now spends his time thinking about where he is going with it.
I look forward to receiving your returns of serve.