27 August 2010

My week in Documentary Photography with Billy Howard

It has been a productive week.  We had 3 shoots: One in the studio with tattooed people, one at an assisted living facility and we ended the week at a truck stop.  Billy was right there, all the way, helping us out with our lighting , making suggestions and offering valuable critiques.  

Here are my favorites of the week:

23 August 2010

21 days since my last blog posting

I graduated from Summer Intensive on August 12th-which seems like a month ago.  Graduation was good closure for SI-which was intensive beyond words.  I know that I learned more than I could possibly ever process in 11 weeks, and I feel confident that it will come begin getting absorbed into my photographic dna over the next few months.

 photo collage by Ann Schroeder

The summer was full of the ebb and flow of emotions for me, and it seems, everyone else.  Often I didn't even feel like I was here-my days became dreamlike and I floated through on little but willpower, being depleted by lack of sleep, proper diet/exercise and the added stress of living in a mad woman's house.

I finished my final project-3 20X20 images of Bailey the Boxer and cried when I presented the project to my classmates.  I cried because I missed my dogs and was emotionally exhausted.  Here is my statement:

DOGS have been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember.  They have been protector, confidant, best friend & someone to tell my secrets to when there was no one else I could trust to hold them.  They have comforted me when I was inconsolable and have offered me solace in times of darkness and confusion.

I asked a few of my friends to tell me why they share their lives with dogs, and here are some of their responses:

“Unconditional love”

“Dedication! Loyalty. No matter what kind of a day I have had my 4 legged friend will always make me smile”

“Bailey reminds me daily what is means to give unconditional love and that a lick to the face can cure all that ails.”

“Her ability for forgiveness & Loyalty. She never asks any questions. She is Non Judgmental & Always happy to see me. She makes me feel better when I’ve had a bad day.” When she looks at me with those big eyes and her tail wags she melts my heart.”

“A species that has been so domesticated that they will join our families, will communicate with us in languages we haven't learned, and will happily do what we don't even expect of ourselves: DOG. Dog is Love.”

“I love puppy kisses…. I love the unconditional love a dog gives you…. I love the way her whole body wages when she is excited to see me…. I love her!”

“Dog is God spelled backward”

“They see things in us that we can not see”

“Dogs are proof that God does exist”

“It's either because their unwavering devotion and unconditional love inspires me to do the same, or because I am insane...”

Me too

Judy and Donna came to my graduation, as did Ann (who was here finishing up a RMSP class).  It was comforting to have them all here, particularly when I had been feeling quite lonely.  The weekend of graduation I moved off Kellie's couch at the Wilma and into my new house for the remainder of my time in Missoula.  I love my new house and I know that I will be very happy here!  Kellie left me her bike, and I have been riding at least 4 times a week. 

Last week I took a one week class from Allison Leach in Editorial Photography.  It was a challenging week for me.  We only had 3 shoots and 2 critiques, and I wished for more.  The setups/lighting and models were not inspiring to me and I felt creatively depleted.  In the end, I think that I got some decent images, but nothing that I loved. 

I am now in my second Pro Studies class this week-Documentary Photography-taught by Billy Howard.  After only one day in class, I know that I am going to get a fantastic education in doc photography.  Billy is a deeply sensitive man who brings his passion to his photography.  It is evident by looking at his images and hearing him speak.  It is going to be a great week.

02 August 2010

It has been an emotional & busy week for me.  School is going well, and I am feeling good about the progress of my final project.  I am keeping it very simple.  After speaking with Marcy, and showing her my 2 ideas (abstracts & puppies), I have decided to go with the puppies.  Actually, only one puppy-Bailey the Boxer.  She has won over my heart and lifted my spirits as no one else has been able to do this summer.  My project is in honor of her generosity of spirit, love & compassion.  

I have fine tuned the 3 images I am going to use, & now need to outsource them to WHCC.  The final is due in nine days.  How can it be that we are in our ninth week?  I still need to decide how I am going to have them finished, but, once again, I am going to keep it simple and yet elegant.  The other assignments I need to complete are: writing my artist's statement, creating my podcast for ICEM, & choosing images for the final slide show.

In spite of all this, I feel calmer than I have in weeks.  I think my life balance has returned and I am able to proceed over the next couple of weeks with a renewed sense of serenity.  What has changed?  My attitude, my living situation and my ability to keep things in perspective.  

After weeks of living with Tammy, I moved out over this last weekend.  Living with an addict was sucking the life out of me.  As my friend Ann said to me yesterday, "it sounds like she is a vampire".  I believe that is true.  I was able to spent the weekend at Roxie's apartment while she was gone in Seattle, and after my first night there, I realized that I could not spent one more night in Tammy's house.  So, as providence has it, a friend from school said that I could move in with her and sleep on her couch at the Wilma.  How could I pass up the offer?  The one bedroom condo is fabulous and feels like Italy.  We are on the eighth floor and have an amazing view of the river, the "M" and beyond.  So, after giving Tammy notice and a check for the entire month of August (my sense of integrity said that it was the right thing to do), some friends from school arrived within 30 minutes and loaded all my belongings (god-how did I accumulate so much in 2 months?) and we all drove away.  Quick and easy.  I know that Tammy was shocked & speechless, but I didn't give her enough time to react.  I was gracious and thanked her for letting me live at her house.  All she said was "good luck".  I feel as if I have been released from prison.  I had no idea how much I felt blocked and trapped I felt in that house until I moved out.

Thi series of images were all taken this weekend, on our 16 hour day, driving from Missoula and Glacier and back.