Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guest Blogger - Tessa Roche on Self-Portraits

Today I have the privilege to introduce my very first guest blogger, Tessa Roche. She is a friend, baker extraordinaire (with a specialty in scones), and fellow photographer. In today's post, she talks about her desire to explore her personality through self-portraiture:

A Study of Oneself

“While a mirror or a photograph can tell a person what he or she looks like, that physical image does not reflect the whole self. Self-portraiture insists the artist embark on a journey of self-exploration in order to make decisions about how to represent him/herself authentically” (National Gallery of Art). I have been intrigued by self-portraits for as long as I have been a photographer and turning 25 seems like a great time to focus and work more on this concept. 

A self-portrait allows an artist to express many veins of their interests and personality. It can also show the changes in a person from day to day or year to year. I guess the best place to start would be to focus on what distinctively makes me, me. A self-portrait is meant to say something about oneself, whether it be physical or emotional. A fellow photographer friend of mine, Bek, seems to create self-portraits almost naturally. She shows where she is, how she looks and how she feels all in one portrait. And they are not just photos of Bek; they say something about her personality in her artistic style. I strive to be able to photograph myself as Bek captures herself. I just have to start clicking that shutter and experiment with techniques that work best for me.

Kudos to all of you who are successful in your self-portraiture and good luck to those of you (like me) who are choosing to start dabbling in the subject.
Famous self-portrait artists worth studying:  Van Gogh, Cindy Sherman, Kelli Connell. 

Photograph Copyright Tessa Roche

Monday, September 20, 2010

They Caught Me...

In the beginning days of my photography class, we're spending a little time each day talking about how to critique images as well as simple ways to improve their compositions. After the "practice" time during our last class, we started to talk about the images they took. The lesson was on the use of aperture and depth of field, but again, I interjected a few things here and there about composition as we went through their images. One of my main goals in the early days is to get them to really slow down and think about the image they are creating. When working with people, I had mentioned a few times that it's usually pretty important to pay attention to the things in the background that intersect with their model's head. Another main goal I have is to get them to move their bodies in order to select the best composition rather than just standing in one place the whole time. I had just happened to do this very thing with an image of one of the students while we were outside. Now, this is in no way an awesome portrait, but I quickly snapped the first image, then decided that I didn't like the way the mountain went right through her head. So, by crouching down just a little, I was able to  get the same image but with the mountain in a different spot behind her. As I mentioned, this is not an award-winning portrait work, but just a quick snapshot example of how moving your body can give you different options. There are actually quite a few things I don't like about these images, but they are just to illustrate a point. Well anyway, little did I know, one of my students actually caught me in action as I was "crouching". As they were all complaining about how bad they look in their portraits that they took of each other, I laughed and said I looked like a little old granny. I even asked them to send the image to me so I could post it. I'm not afraid...laugh all you want! It's better to just laugh at yourself rather than complaining about how awful or silly you look, right?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to the "Classroom"

Today was my very first photography class for home school students. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm combining my love of photography and teaching this Fall by working with 7th-12th grade students. Today I spent some time getting to know them through the photographs I asked them to bring, going over a few quick ideas for improving their photographs, looking at examples of different types of photography, and working on a photo-scavenger hunt. Here's a couple pics as they were looking for items on the scavenger hunt:

I know the weather may not hold for long but we sure had a beautiful day today! Since the only other time I taught this class was in Brazil, it was much easier not having to teach through a translator! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oops! & Combining Passions

Since my first blog entry, I have written about various projects (adoption, abstracts, Brazil, suicide) with something less than consistency. Since my renewed commitment to posting on my blog a few weeks ago, my plan has been to make at least one update to this blog each week. I even added this task to my calendar each Monday. Oops! I missed last week and it's already Thursday this week! I don't think I've let anyone down except myself, but sorry to any of you who have been waiting on pins and needles for my next exciting update. Just kidding...I have no idea how many (if any) people actually read my posts after I make them public. I think that's the bane of most bloggers, isn't it? We all want to think that someone out there cares about the words we share with the world. Many give up. For me, I just need to remind myself that my commitment to blogging is as much for myself - to weekly renew my commitment to photography - as it is for anyone else. If you happen to be someone who clicked on a link to read this, however, thank you! As I mentioned in my very first post for this blog, part of the reason I continue is to also allow you, the reader, to get to know me better as a person and a photographer.

Even though photography was my first love, I spent several years as a middle school science teacher. When my husband and I moved nearly 2000 miles, I had the opportunity to pursue photography. Even though I LOVE photography and the ways it has changed me and the means of expression it provides, I have never completely forgotten my love for teaching.

Now that I have finished my photography degree, I'm unsure of how to get involved, by using photography, with the things I'm most passionate about. One such opportunity came up last summer when my husband & I traveled to Brazil to teach at a youth mission. I taught photography and he taught a computer class. No matter where I end up using photography, I think I'll continue to find ways to combine it with my passion for education. In fact, I am starting a photography class for home school students next Tuesday and I hope to continue offering classes in the future. My hope is that I will be able to offer classes to both kids in the US and abroad who may not otherwise have the opportunity. Unfortunately, this requires funds. I recently came across the AOL 25 for 25 grant opportunity and I'm in the process of getting my submission together for the second stage of the application process. I have no idea what my chances are to be one of the 25, but my idea of offering photography to kids in under-served areas is something I'm passionate about and a grant like this would make my dream a reality.

One of my Brazilian photography students took this photograph of me and another student during class last summer.

As blogger Chris Townley recently wrote in his blog about actually doing something with the things that get your blood pumping, "The first thing you need to do is IDENTIFY what you want to be involved in." I have been passionate about both education and photography for a long time, and what better way to serve others than to offer them something that I love and that just might make a difference in their life? Combining two of my passions is one way for me to take a small step towards living a better story

What are you passionate about and how do you get involved?