Reflection on Ways Of Seeing, a photo class I took abroad.
I came into Ways of Seeing with lots of experience shooting film in the previous semester at my school in the United States. I didn’t have much experience shooting digital and my goal in taking this class was to learn the differences and advantages of shooting digital along with finding my artistic voice. I believe I was able to accomplish some of these goals and learned what to do next with my relationship with photography.
I arrived abroad with very few friends or people I know from the United States. This, along with the time difference and my single dorm, put me in a situation where I learned to enjoy being with myself and find what makes me tick. I began to wake up at 4:45 am, meditating, and working out and tried to be as mindful as possible about my actions. However, the daily rut of waking up, working out, going to class, biking to work, going back to class, getting home by 6:00pm, cooking, doing some work, and then sleeping around 10:30 became extremely monotonous. Later, I realized that I should find enjoyment in my routine rather than breaking the thing that allows me to achieve my goals (fitness, learning design, and other side projects). I don’t think that my personal problem of falling into a boring routine was only limited to myself, so I sought out to photograph people and scenes that embody the statement “Hurry Slowly.”
Everyone is always in a rush, in a hurry, 5 minutes late to the same daily event, and no time to slow down. These photos seek to show people stopping, breathing, looking around, and being with oneself throughout the day; for how you spend your days is how you spend your life.
Reflecting on this project, I realized that I didn’t photograph these pictures with the intent of showcasing the ‘hurry slowly’ concept; the concept developed through what I enjoyed photographing, which was people being at peace with themselves and what they do on a daily basis. This is the primary reason why all my photos contain a person or people. These people are doing something, by themselves or together, and enjoying the time and space in which they are living within. This is shown further with the use of a very old film filter in post-processing, which was recommended during one of the critiques in class.
I do think if I had nailed a concept earlier on, I would have been able to execute earlier and really refine and thoughtfully choose the photos for the final exhibition. Since the concept came through the analyzation of what I shot, I didn’t have enough material to choose from. I’m not sure if this was the right way to approach the final project but I plan on trying to come up with a topic first and photos second for my next project to compare both methods.
I don’t consider to myself to be a street photographer, landscape photographer, portrait photographer, or any in any sort of category. This sometimes makes me feel as if I don’t really know what I enjoy shooting. I’ve struggled with this for a while as I know what I am interested in capturing such as light quality, expression, shapes, lines, and contrast; but all of these elements can be found in any category of photography. Through this project, I learned the value of having a topic or theme and exploring it using photography, rather than bucketing oneself to a category of photography. A landscape photo of Kobenhavn Central Station could showcase ‘Hurry Slowly’ as much as someone enjoying the sunshine from the window inside the train.
If I had to categorize these photos in relation to a photographer, I would humbly put them against Cartier-Bresson’s photography. His photos capture people in their everyday element and to quote, “To photography: It is to put on the same line of sight the head, the eye, and the heart.” As this project was due to self-introspection and self-interest, I believe Henri adequately summarizes this project.