Okay, yes that’s bull. I had a knack of drawing and despised chemistry.
But still. I’m there in class and the instructor was this smooth talking hipster and I felt immediately intimidated by this whole artsy world. He saw things that I didn’t, used words in a way that I didn’t understand and felt that I should, and made comments that I guess were insightful or something because some of the other students were nodding and looked thoughtful.
I played along.
So one day we get this assignment to go out and shoot, think “tonally” or something, and I spend just hours rummaging around on this hillside cropping shots and trying to feel something artful about this boring hillside. Eyes in a straight jacket. I went downtown, shot alleys, felt a bit better, like maybe I’d gotten something into that roll that would be deemed artful.
(the Arts department were housed in these army barracks off on the side of campus – I guess I should mention that)
So the next week my alley photo is up on for target practice and Mr. Hip is quiet for a while and then says “I guess there’s sort of a value in the cliché of it, but other than that, there’s not much there to work with”.
I can’t say that I was overly encouraged by the comment. We did other things in that class, I remember but only vaguely now. Cross processing, conceptual stuff. Still makes me feel like a bit of a dope to think about it. I liked the darkroom, but just didn’t feel any knack for seeing things, back then. Being able to draw a bit didn’t seem to matter.
(How was I to know? I’d come from a mulletville town, the public space philosophically divided by conundrums of another ilk, Ford versus Dodge)
But I’ve grown, I have, from those alley days. Expanded my repetoire to include decaying storefronts, parking lots, and the stuff found nearby.
Maybe photos say less about what’s in front of the camera than what’s behind it. Or maybe the idea is to land on a space in between, where taking the photo is just about that time, that place, that moment.
(there I go, getting all artsy now…)
I see more now, I think. But still, he didn’t have to be so blunt.