My latest project is taking the Bennington Free Press, my college newspaper, from a 100% print based, monthly publication, to a 100% digital, online, publication using Wordpress as a backend. The BFP has been floundering for the past couple years, and needs a significant rejuvenation, so besides just bringing the paper online, we will also be significantly changing the goals of the paper. It should be an interesting six months to a year of work, that I'll be documenting on this blog as we go!
“Why don’t we set it in the World Trade Center.” When the director, Mr. Sweeney said these words, I knew the design for Godspell was about to get interesting. We decided to set the show on 9/11 from 8:46 until 10:28, the time between when the North Tower was struck and when it fell. As we began to design the show we decided that the most important piece of the set would be the wall, which would be columns, spaced similarly to the World Trade Center with windows in between. In place of blank windows, we decided to project a number of images, the most important being a view from the top of the tower, with the other in sight. Mr. Kirby, my design teacher, suggested that I start projecting these images at the beginning of the rehearsal process, so that the the cast could acclimate to the potentially jarring images. I heard Mr. Kirby’s suggestion, but I mistakenly chose not to act on it because I assumed the cast had bought into the concept of setting the play in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and didn’t think members of the cast would have the negative reaction that they ended up having. As the rehearsal process went on, I could tell that members of the cast weren’t quite as enthused about setting the show in the World Trade Center, or had a reluctant acceptance of this idea. I realized late into the process that members of the cast had a significantly different vision of the final product than I, or even the director did. This significant difference of opinion was a constant source of contention throughout the rehearsal process. Tech Day, the Saturday before the show went up, I hooked up the projector and put the image up on the windows. As I worked my way down from the projector position, I heard the cast chattering, and as I approached them, I heard them complaining about the image. They told me they were uncomfortable with the image and that I should take it down. Having shown and discussed the image with Mr. Sweeney, I was reluctant to remove it just because some cast members’ vision of the show was different from what I had thought we, as a production, had agreed to. The cast was nervous that the image might upset some of the audience. I agreed with Mr. Sweeney, who argued that if we didn’t have the image, the concept of the show would be lost. Tuesday evening before the Friday opening, rehearsal was running late. The whole cast was sitting around the stage. Mr. Sweeney pulled me aside and said he had some bad news: he had decided that we could not show the image. I’m still not sure if he resisted because of cast member’s objections, or because of pressure, or the fear of pressure from the administration. As I look back on it, I am sure it was some combination of both. I was disappointed. However, I spent the next two days polishing up the remaining parts of the show, making sure the set was complete, and that the lighting was spot on. On Thursday afternoon, before the dress rehearsal, Mr. Sweeney sat me down and told me that he had changed his mind; and asked me to add the image back to the slideshow. I was relieved. I was able to see a somewhat controversial design concept that I had spent a considerable amount of time thinking about and then implementing come to fruition. In the end the show and the design got mixed reviews. As we feared, some people were upset by the fact that we had set the show in the World Trade Center. As I look back on this experience I’ve come to realize I could have handled my interactions with the cast with more understanding. I could have introduced them to the images in early rehearsals, and I could have been more diplomatic and empathetic in fielding their objections.This was the first show in which I felt my design played a significant role in the storytelling of the show. If the projections, set, and lights weren’t designed like they were, the audience would have been told a different story. In the end I was lucky that Mr. Sweeney understood the potential of the image and that we got to present the show as we had originally planned.
I've been in Oklahoma visiting family for the past couple of days, and I decided not to bring a camera. Oklahoma was the most green anyone has ever seen it-and we went hiking out to the "40 ft hole" this place was beautiful, and I got some great pictures(above). I continue to be convinced of the philosophy that "the best camera is the one you have with you" oft supported by Chase Jarvis.
Really I know that I need a quality camera in order to work in anything but ideal situations, especially any time I need to get close, and anytime I need to shoot in low light.
A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words
The first time that I heard that phrase was during a lower school assembly where Mr. Jelinek(that is undoubtedly spelt wrong) was presenting to us on some sort of art. I remember looking at this asian painting he was showing us and thinking about the idea of fitting words into the painting, a very physical representation of this idea; I didn't really understand what it really meant at the time, but this idea of a physical representation of the thousand words in a picture is still really interesting to me. But I digress, this idea of a picture being worth a thousand words has been a significant driver in my pursuit of art. Collegiate has instilled in me a very serious sense of the importance of the written word, and this conversion of sorts between pictures and words has helped me understand the significance of pictures. As I was thinking about writing this post I realized the deeper implications of this saying, at least for myself, and that is that Images evoke feeling that causes you to think while words evoke thought that helps you to feel.*
When I go and look at what are generally agreed to be the 'best' photographs so far, especially in the context of photojournalism, these images are the ones that evoke the most feelings, that 'pull at your heart strings', not neccessarily the most technically correct photos, or the most perfectly composed, or the photo that is full of information ripe for the picking. It's the photos that evoke an instant viceral reaction. This idea of photographs pulling at emotions is interesting, it inherintly puts a photojournalist who believes this exposed to a lot of emotion creating images, and that can have a significant effect on oneself. Anyway, this concept of photographs as an emotional tool needs some in the field exploring, I'll probably write another post about this concept in the ne
*I'm not quite sure about the final quarter of that statement, but saying something inverted like that sounds cool, so I'm going to run with it.
So today I got deferred from Bennington early decision...no fun, not what I wanted to happen. I sulked for a couple of hours, but now I'm ready to start working on other supplements, write Bennington a letter, and start crossing my fingers. Anyway...I thought I'd write a bit about what I want to do with this blog. I have a lot of random thoughts, ideas, problems, and general shit I need to get out of my head and on paper. I'm going to try to use this blog to get those thoughts on paper, and out there. If anything I write about pisses you off...then go away, I'm using this format first as a tool to process my life, and second to share my life with other people, so the first one always comes first.
I've found myself writing on here mostly when I'm procrastinating from doing other work, so we'll see how this writing almost every night holds up over christmas break.
Ever since I read Sebastian Junger's book War and subsequently pined for, and then watched Restrepo I respected Tim Hetherington as a great war photographer. In the last month or so I've come to understand, and see a similarity of thought between Tim and I. It was this NYTimes Lens Blog article and specifically this quote: "
“If you are interested in mass communication, then you have to stop thinking of yourself as a photographer,” he told Michael Kamber in arevealing interview last year, as his documentary film “Restrepo” was about to open. “We live in a post-photographic world. If you are interested in photography, then you are interested in something — in terms of mass communication — that is past. I am interested in reaching as many people as possible.”
That made me realize the similar opinions we have/had. Looking back on all of his work, I see something that I'm deeply jealous of. Not only was he a great photographer, but he also was a great storyteller, and if you read my About Me section, you can see that that's whats important to me. Tim understood that photographs, film, what have you, were all really the same, they were very similar light capturing mediums through which one can tell a very compelling story.
Back in second grade, right after 9/11, I had an assignment, I don't remember what the assignment was, but it was some sort of current events thing. All I remember is the photograph above, and the basic story, a kidnapped journalist, who has a wife and child at home. This memory stuck with me for a while, and it wasn't until recently that I decided that tracking down who it was, it turned out to be Daniel Pearl, was something worthwhile. I find this really interesting, way back when I was 7 years old, the article I happened to pick out of the paper for a current events assignment, was one about a captured war correspondent. I probably over-emphasize this, but, I think it's telling about my current career aspirations, and it's interesting that I don't really know where this interest comes from, even before this assignment. I don't really know where this post is going, I just thought that if nothing more than coincidental that it was interesting.
I haven't taken a photograph at Collegiate since Graduation.I just spent the past 30 minutes or so scrolling through my 40000+ image Lightroom collection looking at photos from high school, reminiscing, and attempting to confront my active pullback from the Collegiate community as a photographer. This active pullback was spurred on by a couple of different things. A lot of the photos I've taken in the past have been for The Journal(The school paper) and I've not been involved in that publication since last winter, but that's another story. I began to say at the beginning of the year that I wasn't taking photographs because "I had photographed Collegiate so much over the years, that it had become repetitive and boring". That is complete and utter bullshit, but not really. Collegiate in actuality is never repetitive, 3/4 of the upper school student body is different from when I was a freshman, 1/2 is different from when I was a sophomore, and 1/4 is different since I've become a Senior. Furthermore there are some pretty basic subjects that I've failed to ever cover. I've never once shot a wrestling match, I've also never photographed a running event. I think my real reason for backing away from photography at Collegiate this year is trying to acquire 'genuine' memories in my last year at Collegiate. I've found that my memory of any given event that I've photographed is locked to my photography, mention Godspell and I instantly think of the photographs I took over the course of the production, and not of the production itself. My camera also acts as a barrier to true human connection; by having my camera up all the time, I really am hiding behind the lens, and avoiding people, not working to make good connections. Finally I truly have moved through the Collegiate Photography opportunities, while I haven't captured every genre or subject in Collegiate, I've done a good part of it, and I've come to understand certain aspects of Collegiate through this work. This post is probably ending up in the purgatory of wallsoftext, but writing it down helped me work through this decision, and that's whats important.