Sometimes, good pictures start with good subject matter. The photographer’s task, then, is to capture the essence and scope of said subject, in a moment- as a picture. The time of day, vantage point, weather conditions (if outside) - these are important variables. Their resolution is dependent on the photographer’s knowledge of the craft of photography. If one is using a digital camera, it’s useful to have the camera’s settings (i.e. f-stop, ISO, shutter speed) functioning as second nature so that one can consider composition and artistry in preserving that singular instant with a subject. Joe Yablonsky leads a class in Smithsonian-Inspired Public Sculpture and Architectural Photography which addresses these notions only as the proverbial “tip” of an elusive, but acquirable, iceberg. Not intended for the novice photographer, this class rests on a foundation of the students’ working knowledge of their camera and sensitivity to their surroundings. Building upon this knowledge are the aesthetic sensibilities which make up effective composition… sometimes.
Subjectivity is a crucial component in this equation- Yablonsky respects this “look” artists all have to choose for themselves. He does so while addressing over-arching tendencies in in each student’s work. Personal aesthetics represents the conclusion of important choices in how artists envision their own work. Aligning these sensibilities with a photographer’s objective requires finesse and a comprehensive practice.
Assuming one is trying to communicate via art, testing the effectiveness of that communication is an essential asset of group discussions. Yablonsky leads highly productive class sessions with constructive feedback. Elements which lead the viewer’s eye through the picture plane are crucial in ensuring that the artist’s intent in the photographed moment is conveyed consistently. Feedback from peers and teachers is a useful way of gauging whether our intent is coming through in compositions. The class session I observed held discussions of each student’s work from the previous week. There was productive advice on compositional decisions, as well as technical discourse on how shots were facilitated via the camera’s settings- essentially nurturing both the craftsmanship and the artistry of the photographic process.
The Smithsonian Associates is presenting another class of this scope on Sunday afternoons from 1:30-4:30 p.m., July 14 through August 18. For further information please visit: http://smithsonianassociates.org/ticketing/tickets/reserve.aspx?performanceNumber=226561