I wasn’t sure what a zine was before signing up for another Santa Fe Workshop online photography program, although I probably should have. I’ve been putting together photo books following travel for years, and a zine is a small, soft cover magazine, shorter and much less expensive to do than a book. After the first class, I thought it would be a cinch to produce a zine. Not so fast. While one can include anything in it that contributes to the point of the project, one does need a point to begin with. I’d only done the “here I am in front of whatever” kind of travel diary book before; now I needed a subject, and photos that fit the focus. Hmmm.
I had no intention of creating anything for sale, so it seemed to me a “travel summary” zine would work. After sorting through hundreds of photos and quotes collected over time, I settled on stones as my focus, with help from William Shakespeare who mentioned “…sermons in stones…” in As You Like It. Stones show up in all kinds of human creations (the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu in Peru) and in God created settings too (like the Alps and Rocky Mountains). I thought I ought to be able to find some coherence in there somewhere.
The most interesting and difficult exercise for me in putting the zine together was sequencing. How do the photos fit together (color, shape, pattern, purpose?) Did I need to explain pairings or flow of pictures? Was moving from page to page confusing? Should the photos be large or small, stand alone or grouped? Did I want text? Did the text augment the story, or distract from the photos? Yikes.
I finished the project following a zillion revisions, and I’ll probably never do it again. However, I really liked the exercise of pairing photos, looking for commonalities in far flung expressions of stone. It was another eye opener, which is why one takes classes like these I think. Here are a few of my pairing choices, each from a different country (identified when hovering the cursor over a photo.)
The final assignment for the on-line photography course Homescapes: A New Paradigm, offered through Santa Fe Workshops, was to photograph our “sense of self” at home. We had already completed an earlier assignment to take portraits of people or animals living with us, and I had not enjoyed that task. This assignment did not make me happy either. I rarely photograph people when traveling and never take selfies. So I worked to define who I think I am at the moment and photograph those ideas. These were my conclusions: (1) I am a housekeeper, (2) I am hiding from society, (3) I am living in a disembodied state from any earlier life; yet despite current conditions I am (4) blessed beyond reason, and (5) able to do whatever I feel like doing, enjoying my hobby on line when I can’t travel. It was another useful exercise in clarifying life at home at present.
I also include a portrait of my home companion(s), who make life much more fun.
Each assignment in the Santa Fe Workshops on line photography class entitled “Homescapes: A New Paradigm” has become more provocative. This time, our fabulous instructor and founder of the Workshops, Reid Callanan, challenged us to photograph memories of our childhood evoked through elements of our current home, and to push our photographs into more figurative than literal space. It took me several days to think about and create these photos, which need some explanation to connect with my memories, but perhaps on their own they will challenge you to look at your surroundings and find elements that are bound to your childhood, maybe in ways you don’t often consider. I found it a very interesting exercise.
The second assignment for the class I’m currently taking on line with Santa Fe Workshops was to make five photographs depicting metaphors for home, a more challenging task than the first assignment about light. It could perhaps be a photo of a coffee cup and a book, or a pot of soup, or fresh bread from the oven; whatever serves as a representation of home as I see it. Inasmuch as anything to do with the kitchen has little to do with me, I had to think about the elements I needed to create a home from a house. I submitted the following photos, which I will not explain here (although we had to define our choices in class). A really good photo doesn’t need an additional explanation. Several others in the class managed to achieve that goal; I did not.
We’ve been in our house for nearly 6 weeks now, and I’m restless. So I jumped on an offering by Santa Fe Workshops to take a photo class with one of their outstanding instructors (the man who started it in the first place) via Zoom. There are 12 of us from across the country in this undertaking, twice a week for three weeks. And there is a lot of work to be done in between classes. I have been to these workshops before, either in Santa Fe where it is nearly impossible to take a bad photo, or traveling with them to some other photographic destination, and class camaraderie is built over a week of togetherness, which is part of the fun. This experience is different in several ways.
First, in isolation at home, photo subjects seem limited to me and I am not in the company of others who are stirring my creativity. Second, I rarely really look at my surroundings and household items during the course of daily life among them. Photo assignments are always an opportunity to try to see things from new perspectives, and this class, entitled Homescapes: A New Paradigm, is encouraging me to do just that.
The first assignment was about light, and how it plays inside and outside the house, over the course of the day, in color, and in black and white. It’s an interesting new view of ordinary life. I’ll post more as classes progress and you can try to look at your surroundings in a new way too.