4) Word Project (Visual Metaphors)
This project challenges students to associate words with images, helping them to make connections between meaning and symbols. It is crucial to require them to avoid cliches, therefore you should go through the cliched solutions before they start shooting so that they don’t go for the easy and obvious. For example: ban shooting in cemetaries, churches, and ban shooting in the school building (or you’ll end up with loads of locker shots. Not letting them shoot in school also forces them to explore what they may not be familiar with). You’ll find that this is a language lesson, in both words and images. Empower them to come up with their own visual interpretations. This project builds on the previous in that they have now explored various ways of using the camera, of using light, of approaching their subject conceptually and formally,and have hopefully explored different location possibilities. These are the words I’ve used, though you can choose your own. I have intentionally selected words that a) they may not know, and b) that have emotional and expressive possibilities:
Desolation - to be desolate is to be barren, a state in which things are unable to grow, in which life is
Precarious - A state that is on the edge, dangerous, potentially harmful.
Monotony - The same, repetitive, drones on and on.
Solidarity - Strength in numbers, brother/sisterhood, unity, togetherness.
Eclectic - Many different types, for example “I have eclectic taste in music”.
Reverence - To have respect, to hold up to being worshipped, to honour.
Require them to not take pictures of existing artwork, such as a statue of the Virgin Mary for “reverence”, and not to rely on people in the image to convey the meaning, but rather the image itself. Talk about what it means to be “literal” about something and instruct them on not approaching the images literally- don’t just define, but interpret. Make a point to explain that the resulting photographs will have to convey the same meaning to those who view it as it does for the person taking it; they convey that meaning, not so much by the subject, but by the methods they use... ie: angle, light, etc.... Also, you don’t need to necessarily provide the definitions for them, but rather use the defining-of-the-words as an in-class exercise.
5) Fashion Series
- a prevailing custom or style of dress
- manner or mode
- the make or form of anything
- to give a particular form or shape to
This project introduces your students to the concept of working in a series: what makes a series successful?
Some students got instantly turned-off by the idea of doing a “fashion shoot”, so it’s important to stress that the approach to this project is open to interpretation. With this project, as with a lot of professional fashion spreads, location is the key; a consistent look and feel across all photos in this series is crucial to defining it as a series. Some students may not like the idea of finding models: people are not necessary. Again, they can approach the idea of fashion from many varied viewpoints. One of my students used her basement, her sister, and dancing. Another one shot an event occurring over the six required prints. The goal is to have the finished work function as a “fashion spread”.
This project is an excellent opportunity to talk about commercial photography and the various ways that photographers and art directors have incorporated fine art photography and different ways of seeing into their own work. There are many trends at work in the world of fashion photography whose ideas originate in film and fine art. Peruse the edgier magazines and show them examples. Discuss the differences between an artificial, constructed approach, as opposed to a more documentary, realistic one in terms of how they look, of what’s involved in planning them.
Now that your students have become proficient with the camera, lighting, developing, and printing, it’s time to show them some ways to break the rules. There are many ways to experiment with what they now know. Here are a few:
- light painting with penlight while print is in the developer tray
- scratching on the negs
- multiple exposures, in-camera and/or in darkroom
- changing the focus while printing
- hand coloring
- masking negs and/or prints with rubber cement
- using different collage materials on prints
- this one a student discovered by accident with amazing results: keeping your undeveloped roll in the pocket of your jeans as it goes through the washer and dryer
After a critique in which they present prints with at least 4 different methods, have them decide on one method, or a combination, that can be developed into a cohesive series.