Finally, right? As I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts, I’m currently working at a photography store/studio, and as a result I am able to take any of the classes we offer for free or at a discount. I decided to start with the 6 week beginning series, which teaches new photographers a different skill/topic each week, i.e. exposure, composition, flash, focus, and so on.
This went… mostly well. I have a lot to learn.
When I was in school, I had a difficult time focusing in math, science, and religion classes. I found myself easily distracted. One of my math teachers would say something about the Law of Syllogism and I would think, You know, that sounds like it would be a theme in one of the books I’m reading for my literature class. And I would write that down in place of the actual definition for the Law of Syllogism.
When I look back at my notes for any of those classes (nostalgia + wine = this situation), I pay most attention to everything I wrote in the margins — a funny quote from my teacher or one of my classmates, a cool plot idea for a story I would probably never start, or, often, a draft of a letter to a friend, whining about some boy.
In my recent Photography classes, I sometimes found myself doing the same thing. This isn’t to say that the classes didn’t interest me — but there were parts of the lessons that dealt with very technical terms and numbers, and those started giving me horror flashbacks of Algebra class. This was especially true of f-stops, which combine letters with numbers — a crime against letters if I’ve ever heard one.
An example of something I wrote in the margins during photography class: “There is more than one right answer in this situation– this is something that science-people will have a problem with.”
I have no idea what I was referring to, but it sounds like it must have been a pretty profound break through.
That’s the main thing that intimidates me, I think — combining the technical with the artistic. If I was facing Science and Science alone, no art in the picture, then I could maybe trick myself into working in Science mode and I could maybe sort of find a way to figure it out. But when you give me Science with a little Art on the side, you’re essentially just teasing me: here, Jackie, there’s some art here, so maybe you can use that to help you understand the Science, yeah?
No, I’ll tell you — whoever You are at this point (why is everything capitalized?) — if you give me science but you mix it with art, I will only focus on the art and I’ll ignore the science altogether. I know this because it’s exactly how I am with writing and computers.
I prefer writing via computer to writing by hand, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that computer knowledge comes easily to me. Instead of viewing the computer as this wonderful feat of science, I view it as a semi-frustrating machine that happens to be a convenient means for creating art. At least, convenient when it’s doing exactly what I want it to, which is probably about 60% of the time, on a good week.
I imagine this is how my relationship with my camera will progress for a while, possibly forever. It frustrates me — it’s essentially just a smaller computer, with fewer buttons but just as many technical terms. I understand the artistic parts perfectly — composition, light, mood — but tell me to spot meter something and it will take me at least five minutes and three swear words.
I’m hoping that by the next time I travel somewhere beautiful, I’ll have made enough peace with Science to take at least one good picture of the experience.
For now, I am going to try to decipher these cryptic notes I wrote to myself in the margins. I have a feeling there’s a best-selling novel in here somewhere.