It's the day before I enrol on The Art of Photography Course run by the Open College of Arts and I am excited. As part of the course, students are required to complete learning logs and/or journals to submit for appraisal at the end of each module. I thought it would be a useful exercise to start mine today so that I can crystallise my reasoning for embarking on yet another course ( I just finished a post qualifying graduate diploma as part of my job in 2009), but also to write down my goals to see if I can achieve them by the end.
Where do I start? Well, in the last few years, I have been a frequent visitor to a fair few photography forums, and in some of them pro photographers have used the acronym “MWAC” as a pejorative term. It made a particular impression on me for I am one – a mother with a camera. And I am proud to be one. I want to capture images of my children at play, at rest, when they interact and explore their own worlds. I want to capture those moments of pure joy, and those fleeting moments of quiet contemplation. I want to record their growth. That is my primary reason for learning all I can about my camera. Why I have spent so much time and effort in reading and researching the web, learning what I can, practising what I can. But that is not all I want to do. I want to be able to see more creatively. I want to be able to assess my own work. I want to be able to say why a particular photograph, or a particular painting or piece of art appeals to me. I want to learn the rules and to understand why breaking some can be so much more effective. I want to learn and be challenged out of my own comfort zone.
I think there is a lot to be said about photography being intuitive. And I have worked hard on becoming familiar with my tools and with the style I am most comfortable with and like. I was most gratified when my husband told me back in Oct 2009 that I had a definite style. He was looking at a picture I had taken of our little girl for a thank you card. (below is the photograph in question).
He said it reminded him of a painting (we then spent the next hour or so trying to find said painting on the web!). I will probably explore this at a later date, but for the purposes of this journal entry, I was really very happy that he could tell I had a particular 'style'. But then the closer I looked at my photographs, I realised that I almost always shoot wide open whether or not the scene required it and often to the point where very few of the portraits of my children actually had their whole head in focus. I am obsessed with bokeh and smooth transitions. My favourite portraits are those with no eye contact. So although in the last year, I have purposefully switched to using manual exposures and manual focus lenses in the effort to slow down, think of what I'm doing and what I want to achieve, I have fallen into a way of shooting which precludes other possibilities (of focal length and aperture). I hope that a course like this would challenge me to look at things a little differently and push me to explore outside that comfort zone.
Finally, I will also admit to being guilty of the nefarious implications of being a MWAC. Because I have my digital slr, I do not want to go to a professional photographer or studio to take portraits of my children so it could be argued that I am taking someone's livelihood away. I have also, shock horror, contemplated going into business myself, but only very briefly. My husband keeps me grounded. I know that I am not ready and really do not want the responsibility of running a business. I also want to enjoy this, and enjoy the process of learning more about the art of photography.