For this Fall semester I begin what has seemed terrifying since I first came to Mizzou: my capstone course. Terrifying in the sense that when I first came here I thought the Picture Story and Photographic Essay class was made up to be the one course where the rest of your career will be based and judged from. Now that I’ve made it to this point (finally), I can say that I am not (as) terrified and quite excited to be pushed to places conceptually I haven’t been. I’ve contemplated story ideas for this class this summer and feel pretty confident in the ideas I’m coming up with.
For the rest of the semester I will posting blog updates with thoughts, ideas and progress of my work.
For this first post I am going to delve into the topics and ways of storytelling and image making that appeal to me. Ever since I switched from a fine art photography to photojournalism major I knew that maintaining a distinct and unique style hasn’t ever been my driving force. What has driven me as a person is the ever-evoling reformations of myself through the interactions and experiences I have from people. The same can be said about the technique, form, and conception of my photographic work. And so it is difficult for me to pinpoint specific decisions on content and style that pertain to me. If it moves me is what matters.
However, it wasn’t until recently that I figured out a way of storytelling that I think I could really get into for now. This summer my best friends from St. Louis left to travel across the country by hopping freight and hitchhiking and staying in motels, punk houses, and anywhere they could find. I was extremely tempted to go but needed to take summer school courses. They just got back less than two weeks ago and after hearing their stories of their travels it hit me that I am the type of person who would be fascinated by photographing from a participant observation perspective. For the couple of days after hearing their stories all I was thinking about was how I could pull off dropping all but my Picture Story class and just travel to complete my projects. Definitely wouldn’t work out but after I graduate I will seriously consider making it into a personal project of mine on “travel culture.” For an idea how the type of images I would expect to get check out this collection of work from Mike Brodie, AKA “The Polaroid Kidd.”
Anyway, when looking for a piece of work that resonated with me I found Justin Maxon‘s photographic essay, “When the Spirit Moves,” which won the Cliff Edom’s “New America Award” at this year’s NPPA Best of Photojournalism competition. This is the piece that I found out about Justin’s work on the Photo Brigade site which details his rally against violence and current photographic project:
I chose this essay by Maxon because it’s from a photographer who has a clear vision of what he is photographing and how he feels the best way suited to photograph his subject matter. Under the context of the issues he’s trying to illustrate, I don’t think his style of photographing shouldn’t be taken just for show. The high contrast of most of the images give the viewer clear distinctions of the focuses of the images, while providing the seriousness of the issues. The images made through multiple exposure don’t seem unorganized, but clearly thought out. While perhaps some of the images might look as though they were made for a pictures sake — such as the one of the church — I think it goes along with the mood of the rest of the essay.