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Bad Photography Student

March 19, 2011


Casta Diva by Emanuele Cremaschi-Beauty Pageants in Italy, 2010

If anyone is feeling like a bad photo student, I thought I’d make some suggestions for becoming better. I want my photo students, even the currently and previously questionable ones, to become photographers. There are lots of historically sound suggestions for improving your photography, such as, “F-8 and be there” and “get a good pair of shoes.” Yet, before you even adjust your F-stop, you have to have an impulse.  The attraction toward photography does not have to be a clear “why, what and where.” It just has to be a feeling beyond thinking that photography is easy and fun.


Kirkpinar by Pari Dukovic


Kirkpinar, in Turkey, is the longest sanctioned sporting event in the world.

Successful students have a more subtle intention than simply declaring, “I wanna be a photographer.” If you feel the pull or push to make pictures, or even just like to walk with your camera, that’s a start. There is another aspect, which is based on your interest in pictures that are not yours. Do you take the time to look at portfolios on line, other than Facebook? I’m talking about an interest in art in general, not simply photographs of fashion, friends and rock and roll.

Now for the question your family asks. “What are potential careers in photography?” I found a website that lists job postings for photographers. At present it seems to be mostly New York area opportunities, but I did not check listings prior to this week.



#1 from What Remains by Justine Reyes

Recently, PDN released its selection of 30 under 30; their choice of new and emerging photographers. Both Justine Reyes (above) and Pari Dukovic (further above and below) are on the list. Justine has some clear writing on her site about her motivations for making pictures.



From Venues of Immortality by Pari Dukovic

I am primarily interested in Dukovic’s work because of his use of grain and high contrast. The above picture, photographed in New York City, has the gritty, in-your-face realism of riding a NYC subway. Both Dukovic and Reyes have a personal vision and the ability to translate that into coherent personal projects.


Nicole, Brooklyn, NY, 2010 by Wenjie Yang

Over at the Verve Photo blog, Geoffrey Hiller introduces us to a “New Breed of Documentary Photographer” via a couple of posts a week. Wenjie Yang was featured a couple of weeks ago. I am really impressed by Hiller and other bloggers who have the energy to blog regularly. You may have noticed that I am sinking down to about one posting a month.



Via Pan Am by Kadir van Lohuizen offers photojournalists the opportunity to “crowd fund” their documentary projects through viewer support. Yes, the online viewer decides what s/he wants to support by sending in as little as $10 toward a project’s realization. If a project gets enough backing, the photographer is off and making it work. For instance, Kadir van Lohuizen’s Via Pan Am is a 40 week journey from the southern tip of South America to Alaska documenting migration in the 15 countries of the Americas. So far, he has raised over $2000 toward that goal.


Photograph by Leah Mae Dyjak

Anyway, back to the “Bad Student” concept. Leah Dyjak reintroduced herself to me a couple of years ago saying she was one of my “bad students” from a few years before, but she finally “got it” and now is an exhibiting photographer. I saw her work and it is fabulous.  She and a few other “bad students” taught me that planting the photography seed is enough. So, if you don’t feel the “fire in the belly” for photography, just wait a minute, or a year, or until you are ready. Photography, or any art, can be a tool for resurrection and affirmation. Whatever you learn and create in your early years of photography will get deposited in the library of your personal creative output to become a positive part of the story of your life.






One Comment leave one →
  1. March 28, 2011 9:11 pm

    All great shots!

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