Lesson 2

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    Photographic Inspiration

    The most influential figure that has inspired me, or at the very least I wish to emulate, is LIFE magazine photographer Gordon Parks. He endeavored to use his ability and passion to tackle social injustice in the 1960’s, as well as capture the beauty and fashion of the runway.

    Just to clarify, by emulate I do not mean to copy his particular style of photography but to bring the same amount “focus”, no pun intended, to my work as well. I am far from being, what anyone would call a competent photographer. I do however possess the desire to be as adaptable as he. To be able to swap from the seriousness of the Civil rights movement, and the plight of Appalachian farmers to the beautiful yet superficial nature of fashion shows (please take no offense to my aspersion on fashion photography). From my point of view, this expresses – 1. a broad appreciation for different cultures and what’s important in them and – 2. the photographic chops to capture these worlds so perfectly. Mr. Parks’ insight on how to capture depth, both “of field” and “of emotion”, is something thats only a far off dream for me.

    American Gothic, said to be his most famous photo, is so simple (to my eyes) yet offers so much. A photo of a cleaning lady with the background of the american flag. With this one photo he captured the experience of what most black underprivileged persons faced at the time. This photo was his critique on American society. In this way, I want to create pictures that, at a minimum make people stop, if just for a second, and think about things a little harder or maybe with a different perspective.
    In addition to American Gothic and many other photos, Mr. Parks took on a photo essay documenting an gang leader in Harlem. A very dangerous assignment for sure but the man was not afraid to take risks, or at least it doesn’t show in his work. Ultimately, this essay is what landed him his job a LIFE. I in no way want to spend my time following gang members, but I am inspired by some one who is willing to go where ever its required and do what’s necessary to truly seize a moment and freeze it for others to enjoy and ponder.

    Gordon Parks eventually became an author and film maker but it was his work with still photography, in my opinion, is his most powerful. In 1961 Mr. Parks done a photo essay on a young Brazilian boy named Flavio de Silva. Flavio was dying of pneumonia and malnutrition. Gordon Parks’ photo essay on this kid brought in a flood of donations that resulted in saving the boys life and buying his family a new home.

    One individual with a camera and the knowledge to use it has the possibility to make changes in our world. If you could grasp just a little bit of what made Gordon Parks exceptional, it would give you a career in photography that would make anyone proud.

    Duncan Rawlinson

    The assignment:

    What you need to do for this assignment is write a 500 word paper (approximately 1 page) on a photographer or artist that has had an impact on yourself as an artist. In this article you need to identify 2 important things.

    1. A particular piece of work they created which was of particular importance to you.

    2. What theme within their work is of greatest importance to you (i.e. war, love, family, color etc)

    We will review this assignment based on originality and perspective. There are no right or wrong answers. The aim of this assignment is to get you thinking about your own area of interest within the realm of photography.

    FANTASTIC! This is a great little essay.

    You’ve clearly shown that you’ve been inspired by Gordon Parks and that you’ve found one piece of particular importance to you. Here it is:

    Photography has a very dramatic impact on the world, history, and how people think.

    On any given day take a look at Boston.com’s Big Picture and it will completely impact you on an emotional level. It will move you, scare you, excite you. All with photography…

    That’s what we should all aspire to do with our photography, to move people in some way. If not what’s the point?!

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. You say:

    I am far from being, what anyone would call a competent photographer

    I will call you a competent photographer right now! You’re learning, we’re all learning. The point is to get better and never stop getting better.

    Be proud of your work even if you know it could be better. I struggle with this. I often find one tiny little imperfection with a photo and immediately hate it.

    Be gentle on yourself when you’re learning. You’ll make mistakes and learn from them.

    I can’t wait to see what you shoot in the future.

    Great job!

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