Photographer Audra Shields completed our 7/365-The Mentored Photo Project course this summer. Not content with just extra homework during the summer, Audra’s project also involved a challenging theme that encouraged viewers to dig beneath the surface of the presented image. Entitled Juxtapose, Audra invited a comparison between buildings in the neighbouring streets and roads of her home in Ohio. Here is her project theme in her own words:
Juxtapose: To create an image collection of contrasting buildings displayed in pairs, provoking viewer curiosity to consider circumstance, history and inhabitants.
Wander through Audra’s world and wonder about the stories of the people who live and work in these places. Visit her website to learn more about Audra’s commercial and fine art photography!
Interested in an intensive mentorship like Audra’s? There’s only 1 spot left in November’s 7/365 – The Mentored Photo Project.
This summer, several keen photographers set aside their precious time to work on an intense online mentorship project with us. Rather than loll on the beach with a summer paperback, these intrepid photogs braved the heat, laden with camera gear, to create a unique photo project of their own. Niru Karia is one of our students who completed the 7/365 – The Mentored Photo Project course. Self-described as a “baby” in photography, you wouldn’t know from Niru’s work that she has only been photographing for a year!
Niru’s project was to explore and photograph the shape, colour and texture of flowers. This involved skills such as composition and learning to see. Niru gave us permission to share her work with you so we can all enjoy her careful observation and artfully abstracted images.
Interested in your own intense, one week photography mentorship? Dates for fall 2017 are now open. Don’t miss the early bird pricing!
Out of all our students who took the 7/365: The Mentored Photo Project this summer, George Clayton is the one who appeared determined to torture himself the most. Not only did he choose a topic that was challenging in interpretation, it also came along with obstacles of access! Luckily, George demonstrated a fabulous “can do” attitude, a skill that will serve him well in all his endeavours. Here’s George’s project statement:
My project is about advancing the positive public perception of Canadian agriculture and the men and women who shape the landscape one casually sees driving on any prairie highway. These images will hopefully reflect the care and stewardship they passionately practice year after year to produce healthy food for millions at home and abroad.
George’s passion for telling the story of farmers and agricultural families is palpable. We were fortunate enough to meet George over coffee after his project was complete and discuss in more detail the importance of creativity, daily practice and the pursuit of excellence. George will continue to work on his project over time as this is a topic near and dear to his heart and is fueled by his past work in the agricultural industry. So without further ado, here is a collection of George’s images representing the care and stewardship rural folk have for their lands.
We’ll give George the final word:
The images may not show what was to be captured with a lens during this week. But the lessons, the encouragement and the place You, Sam and Darwin took me will not be lost. I can take that year, that summer and try to capture something that could be, for me, easy to avoid. I ask for the challenge and have accepted it. There is more work to do.
Last week we posted Lynn Schwehr’s project about ‘seeing’ the incredible diversity and beauty of flowers. Today we want to share Erin La Place’s project from the 7/365: The Mentored Photo Project eCourse. We are excited to introduce Erin’s work in part because she engages with subject matter close to our own hearts – the prairie.
Erin works at a fulfilling but demanding job in health care in a busy city. Calling herself a prairie girl at heart, Erin heads out, camera in hand, to Alberta’s backroads and secondary highways whenever the strains of work pile up. We guided Erin to take on a challenging project theme: develop a visual narrative that brings the viewer along on her journey from stressed to discovery, healing and transformation. Here is how Erin described her project:
My project is about how I, this big city girl, when overwhelmed by the stressors of life, retreat to the Prairies to calm my senses and soothe my soul. This series of images will reflect my personal journey towards peace and healing, as I travel the roads less traveled in South and Central Alberta.
It was a pleasure to review Erin’s images which were all well-composed. Not a pokie, merger or black hole in sight! Because of Erin’s superior composition skills, she was able to successfully tackle an advanced project theme that was refreshingly original and unique. It takes bravery to put deeply personal work out there, and we salute Erin for doing so. So, here is a tightly curated series illustrating Erin’s journey. A stressed out city girl finds comfort, peace and discovery through visual meditation on the prairies, allowing her to return home transformed and healed.
Darwin and I are constantly impressed with the work of our students. It truly is a pleasure to see photographers gain confidence under our tutelage and pursue wholeheartedly their unique ideas. We’ve wrapped up the first week of our brand new eCourse, 7/365: The Mentored Photo Project. And before we begin our second course, we just had to brag a little about our first week’s students.
Lynn loves flowers. Oh sure, we all like to sniff a rose or admire a bouquet of colourful carnations. But Lynn takes appreciation of flowers and plants to a whole new level. Lynn sees flowers. With whatever tool comes to hand, be it a smartphone or dSLR, Lynn leans in close, capturing the sprinkling of pollen on a stamen or the elegant sweep of a petal. Lynn’s images are rooted in reality – we know we are looking at flowers, after all. But the everyday magic of the details of flowers is what Lynn adeptly reveals with her camera.
As part of the 7/365: The Mentored Photo Project eCourse, students are asked to define the project they wish to work on in one or two sentences. Here is what Lynn had to say:
I want to discover ways of photographing flowers to show what I can now see and to try to portray the excitement I now have.
Why is the world of flowers revealed anew for Lynn? Because, as she references in her project statement, Lynn can “now see”. A recent operation on her eyes has given her back the gift of clear and close sight. And what better blessing for a photographer! So, lean in and look closely at the world of flowers cleverly brought to life through Lynn’s eyes. We expect to see more beautiful work from this budding photographer in future.
Many of us only do photography when we have something to take pictures of: a birthday party, a vacation, an iconic destination, a portrait, an owl in a tree etc. We take pictures of things… we rarely make images of our ‘feelings about things’.
Our feelings are always trying to emerge in our photography but are often suppressed by our obsession over gear, concerns about technique, and worries about what others will think of our photos. Our egos often get in the way of expressive image making. And so the results of our photography are impersonal, predictable and clichéd. After a while we are not even sure why we take photos and we become bored with our work.
To remedy the boredom and get back in touch with why we take photos, Samantha and I recommend doing a personal photography project. It’s best if the project is something simple and achievable. Don’t try some grand epic project or you’re bound to fail – start small and make it fun. And give yourself a deadline and an outcome: when will you finish and how are you going to collate or present your work?
For example, my personal photo project for the next six months will be a weekly photo walk. Once a week, starting with the week of January 12, I will pick up my camera and head out on a two to three hour walk and make images of things I find interesting. I might walk in my neighborhood, meander in a city park or stroll in nature.
Why a walk?
I chose a weekly photo walk for three reasons. First, walking is environmentally friendly. I just walk from wherever I am. No driving involved! Second, walking is healthy for body and spirit. Third, walking slows you down giving you time to look around and see; I’ll get to know an area much more intimately which is important because for the next six months Samantha and I will be house and pet sitting in different locations in Alberta. What better way to learn about a new place than by walking in it? After each walk I’ll write a short journal entry about the experience and process any images I made.
What is the outcome?
Once a month I’ll share a story or two of my walking journeys here on the blog. The final result of the weekly walks will be a hand-made, hand-bound journal of my photos and writings that will be completed by July 30.
What’s in it for you?
So… we encourage you to come up with a project that excites your creative spirit. If you like the idea of the weekly photo walk, then feel free to lace up your boots and join me on the journey. Glad to have you along!
If you have a different project in mind then we encourage you to share your idea and your deadline for the output (e.g. a book, print show, eBook, or online gallery). Feel free to post your project idea and photo results from your project, or the weekly walk, at any time over on our oopoomoo Facebook group. There you’ll get encouragement and advice from fellow oopoomians. If you’re not on Facebook feel free to email me at email@example.com and tell me about your project or just share images from your weekly walk. Samantha and I will select some of your project ideas or weekly walk results to highlight here on the oopoomoo blog, with your permission of course. As well, we may give out a prize or two just to keep things interesting, hint, hint 😉
Good luck with all your projects. We are excited to see what you come up with!
We all know how hectic life can get at times. Careers. Housework to be done. Children or spouses to chauffeur. Groceries to be bought. Emails to write and answer. Coffee dates with friends. Special occasions to get ready for. Dogs to walk. On and on and on! On December 16th I decided I needed a break from the daily chores so Zerrin, our Golden Retriever, and I decided to go for a walk.
It had snowed most of the weekend and the landscape was a beautiful, clean white blanket. The blue Alberta sky showed off the Rocky Mountains in all their glory. Half an hour into our walk I got my break. However, it was not the break I was looking for. I slipped on some ice which was secretly hiding under the ‘beautiful clean white blanket’! DOWN I went. I landed like someone who was preparing to make a snow angel. On my back, arms and legs spread eagle. My body was taking up much more property than needed. My first thought was, “I’m still alive!” My oopoomoo First Aid Training immediately took over my brain. “Hi. My name is Catherine. I know First Aid. Can I help you?” I took inventory of all body parts. Head? Good. Legs? Good. Back? Good. Bum? Sore. Arms? Umm. Left arm is good. Still have dog attached by means of his leash. Right arm? Not so good. The wrist was a wee bit sore. I finally opened my eyes and saw Zerrin’s big brown eyes staring down at me seemingly asking, “What ARE you doing?” I managed to pick myself up, dust off the snow and muster up as much pride as I could, at the same time praying that my ice-jig was not witnessed by anyone. Diagnosis? Broken wrist in two places, needed to be reduced (too bad it isn’t as easy to reduce a waist as it is a wrist!). Seven hours later I walked out of the hospital with a festive green and red cast on my right arm. I have some choice words for how I feel about this very restrictive clump of fibreglass on my arm but I won’t use them because it may tarnish my good girl image Sam and Darwin have of me.
Needless to say, I feel very helpless. Can’t zip my jacket, tie my shoes, do up the button on my pants, floss my teeth, cut my food, handwrite… well, you get the idea. BUT the one thing I can’t do, that bothers me the most, is USE A CAMERA!!! AND…..here is the clincher……I’m going to Joshua Tree Park, California before I get this cast off!
“Okay”, I thought, this cast is not going to get the best of me! I WILL write my January oopoomoo post and I WILL take photographs! I put ALL my cameras on the table and sat down for a ‘fitting’. How frustrating! Too big! Too small! Too heavy! Not a good grip! The Rolleiflex is a definite no go. My Canon 60D is also a no go. Samsung Galaxy has to be held upside down and I can’t reach the power button.
After short-listing the point and shoots I finally settled on my Canon Power Shot S110. The sleek style is comfy to hold and all buttons and dials are easy to control with my index finger.
My seldom used S110 will accompany me on my next trip. One nice bonus with taking a small camera is that it will fit into the purse and there is no need to carry a camera bag….with my DSLR, 40mm lens, 50mm lens, 70-200mm lens, 400mm lens, filters, filter holders, lens baby accessories. That equipment can go with me on my photo trip to Newfoundland this summer when I am cast free!!