Sunday, November 7, 2010

Friday Photo Class: Journalism Class Makes Visit

This past Friday, Assistant Professor Frank Ward and his Photo Journalism class abandoned the educational institution, freeing themselves from Holyoke Community College campus to visit our studio. A field trip like this has extreme benefits for the perceptive student, that cares, and find inspiration real world artists and professionals. Back in the day, (merely 3 years ago) Frank was one of the founding professors that helped shaped my education in terms of photography and what I went on to accomplish. Frank is assistant to Robert Aller, an equally professional photographer that has shaped and molded the lives of many talented photographers, including myself, and many of my friends. Together with Chris Lizon, a (photo professor) they have been constructing and building a photography program that educates and inspires students to lead successful lives as artists, photographers or educators of photography. On Friday, Frank brought his class down to see what two Alumni have gone on to strive for and build. Frank along with Bob Aller is a major supporter of students and alum that go on to show case what they have learned in their classrooms as well as aim to successed. When Frank emailed me to ask if he could come down, he expressed a project they are working on, photographing artists in their spaces. The spaces they work in, have transformed into studios, and focus on how they are shifting and changing Holyoke through art and innovation. I was honored to let Frank and his class come down for a visit.

After a brief introduction, we did a small demonstration of a light set up that we use for formal portraits. A set up we have mainly used for Senior Portraits, but will use for any typical head shot that is requested. Pictured here, Frank posed so his class could see what our light set up looked like in terms of a photograph and not just the physical locations and placements of the lights around the backdrop and studio.

I am pretty sure that Frank will not be taking a runway for a fashion show in Paris anytime soon. But the role his posed played was a very good example of how a light placement can affect the client that wears glasses. As you can see, he has a pair of glasses on. What you do not see is any glare in those glasses. As he pointed out to the class, the light was focused on a specific placement within is body. What he was unaware of, is that the light was placed consciously knowing that the glasses would create a cast, glare, and perhaps a green glare that can ruin an entire portrait. In relation to the body, the position of the light is very important. A lesson the students were given by his pose and this example.

After a few more minutes of discussion and talk about lights, Tim (studio co-owner), was kind enough to discuss one of his projects. A nude figure study that references the work of Edward Weston. The photo students looked on eagerly as Tim discussed his use of models and posing and how his end result is a book. From there, the students took a brief tour of the studio space and another part of the building.

Frank has traveled the world. He has seen a many photographs and created some amazing images. His most impressive project that has always stunned me was when he trekked across Tibet with an 8x10 view camera. I would define Frank as a social-documentary/photo journalist, with a body of work that examines the cultures in which he has traveled to. A modern day Henri Carte Bresson trapped in a digital era, Frank has embraced digital photography in a welcoming manner. Once asked by Frank, which do you think is better, film or digital? My automatic response was film, followed in defense with, "film has a tangible quality that digital does not. You shoot and process film. At all times the film is physical being, holding the photograph once exposed. Digital is only tangible once the image has become a print. Until then it is not visible, (unless seen through the back of a camera), it is not a tangible photograph that can be seen like a piece of film, before a photograph is printed onto a piece of paper." With the technology now, film is made to feel obsolete. Digital photography has the speed and convenience to fulfill the demand of viewing instantly.

By now, you must be wondering, what the hell does this have to do with Holyoke? Well, if it hadn't been for Holyoke Community College, and the professional educators that command the attention of their students and nurture their talents, I would not have embarked on this path of photography. In more ways then one Holyoke is the birthplace of my career as a photographer, not just my subject matter, and backdrop for a great many of photo shoots. Not only does HCC have a great photography program, but that program is part of a larger Art program that is welcoming, nurturing, and supportive of their students. Naturally of course, one can not be successful without drive and ambition. Maybe one of these days, when HCC changes their billboard add, (as seen on 91 South) I, or Tim, or the both of us will be on it. Holyoke is our heritage and our roots. HCC was the foundation for career and passion.

Frank Ward on JPG
Frank Ward Tibet 8x10 Portrait
Social Documentary Site

I will be doing a follow up article with images from Frank, a portrait of us in the studio, and some of his students work.

Autumn Views II

Holyoke Public Library

Copy Right Jeffrey Byrnes

This past week will most likely be the last time this year we see such beautiful weather. Granted, when I made these images it was pretty cold out, the color of light for the time of day, mixed with the grey, fluffy, semi-white, threatening clouds is pretty much done for the year as well. From now until next spring, we will see grey days blanketed with snow, rain, or cold days with blue skies. Those bone chilling days that bite as harsh as the wind that blows cold in your face. But, before we know it we will be seeing green leaves budding on the trees and the spring light will make Holyoke smile again, as spring arrives.

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