|| Photography 109: Photo I ||
Artist Statement

Photography is an elegiac art, a twilight art. Most subjects photographed are, just by virtue of being photographed, touched with pathos.
On Photography, Susan Sontag
A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.
Eudora Welty
. . .

Recently I took an online photography course to learn how to use a single-lens reflex camera and how to compose photographs more artistically. Photography has always played an important role in my family -- the fear of losing our family photos during a recent wildfire still haunts me -- as well as in my personal adult life. Photography also played a role in my undergraduate career. More specifically, in both English and international studies courses, I engaged photographs of violence and how war could (literally) be framed through photography. We dealt with the earliest photographs from past wars to the banned photos of soldiers' coffins from Iraq and Afghanistan to the infamous photos from Abu Ghraib. More personally, I used cameras to capture the quotidian activities of my life in college as well as the upheavel of my year-long study aborad experience. Post-college, I've continued to use the camera as a machine of memory and a tool of artistic production.

I tried to push my boundaries this semester. I took a lot of photos of subjects that I like (nature, coffee, my partner, books), but I tried to capture them from unusual angles and with unusual light. I also forced myself to work with unfamiliar subject matter, but I could have done better.

The class was a great learning experience for me. It also gave my partner and I a chance, and a reason, to travel all over California. We took photographs in Yosemite, Mammoth, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Simeon, San Luis Obispo, San Bernardino, and many other places. Over a five month period we created photographs in forests, in snow, on beaches, and in urban and rural spaces. As important academically as this class was to me, it gave me an opportunity to bond with Ted over a shared experience. Vernon also played a great role in supporting my work through his excitement to discuss my photos and to teach himself how to use the camera.

Susan Sontag once called the camera a "predatory weapon." The power of the camera and the photograph compels me. I don't see the camera as something to abhor or fear, but I undersand that in choosing the composition of a picture the photographer can commit violence or neglect upon a subject by choosing what to leave, what to keep, and from which angle s/he approaches it. Judith Butler wrote that "even the most transparent of documentary images is framed, and framed for a purpose, carrying that purpose within its frame and implementing that purpose through the frame."

Photography has become an important medium for me. I neither draw nor paint, and I struggle with my creative writing. I want to create art, but I haven't always been able to push myself. I analyse, critique, negotiate. Our photography class gave me a chance to expand as an artist, to explore my surroundings and to grow creatively. As much as photography is a window to the world, it is also a frame. I cut out pieces of the world to create my own perspective of the world in the photographs that I create.

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