PP160 Photographic Seeing

Course Description

Edward Weston described composition as “the strongest way of seeing”. Ansel Adams proclaimed that “there is nothing worse than a sharp picture of a fuzzy concept.” Between the two of them they identified and offered solutions to what are often a photographer’s most serious creative challenges— how do we bring visual order to a chaotic world, and how do we make interesting, meaningful photographs that transcend “the thing itself”. With all of the overwhelming technological options available to photographers in the digital era, we sometimes forget that making a good picture still starts with seeing and thinking clearly. Our goal should not be to make images of things so much as to make images about things. Composition is not an end in itself but simply a set of skills used to organize visual information. Through classroom discussion, challenging assignments and extensive location shooting both individually and as a group, this Photography class will stress the importance of concept and composition in the creation of compelling imagery.

Learning Outcomes/Topics

  • How and why a photographer must learn to see the world the way a camera does
  • Composition=Order
  • How painting and drawing are inclusive processes while photography and sculpture are exclusive
  • The difference between making pictures of and making pictures about
  • How to see like the camera sees
  • Switching between the left (logical) side of the brain to the right (intuitive) side of the brain (and back again)
  • How street photographers make extraordinary images of ordinary situations
  • How to use your camera instinctively, intuitively, and unobtrusively.
  • Lessons learned from the different approaches of photographers like Erwitt, Frank, Winogrand, Friedlander and Cartier-Bresson
  • How master photographers Henri-Cartier-Bresson and Garry Winogrand described their working methods
  • How Duane Michals used sequences of pictures and words to illustrate life’s Big Questions
  • Legal and social concerns every contemporary photographer should be aware of
  • When and how to use model and property releases
  • How copyright law applies to private and intellectual property
  • Effectively explore the urban and natural natural landscape with a camera
  • Demonstrate the effects of focal length, depth of field and exposure on rendering highly detailed objects and surfaces
  • Determine what to include and what to exclude in complex scenes
  • Understand and demonstrate the effect of camera position and focal length on the relationship between foreground and background
  • Use the spatial context of the viewfinder frame and its borders to influence what is arranged within (refer to chapter 1)
  • Bring visual order to chaotic scenes using Design Basics
  • Recognize and utilize Graphic and Photographic Elements combined with an understanding of how humans perceive tone, color and focus