Looking For Some Direction

My most recently posted images, from J'ouvert morning 2010, are unrelated to the direction that I want to take my photography while I'm still here, although they do demonstrate one of the challenges that I've been finding in producing compelling images.

Thus far, I have experienced two primary challenges: technique and content. I know those are the two most obvious challenges to producing good images, but I still think my personal challenges with the two are worth discussing.

Regarding technique, it is always difficult to handle low light situations with moving subjects. I've been shooting with a new Nikon D90, which has surprisingly little digital noise at high ISOs, and that has helped, but at the end of the day, film needs light to oxidize silver halide crystals, and digital sensors need light to register information. If there isn't enough available light, you need to provide your own. The challenge: flash ruins the mood and atmosphere of pictures. While expensive, high quality external flashes are better than in-body flash, images are still undeniably stronger when they're shot with natural light.

My conclusion, as I think about where to take photography this semester? Shoot in daylight. Again, I know it sounds obvious and simple, but it really does make a world of difference.

Now, regarding content: One of the biggest challenges for me in deciding what to photograph, is my level of comfort going out and taking pictures. Thus far, every time I've tried walking the streets with my camera, the cat calling increases. The men here certainly don't hesitate to cat call every female in sight without a camera, but for some reason, when I have my camera out, it's like bait for hungry sharks. "Eh sexy gyal, ya wanna take mah piture?" It makes me feel uncomfortable enough that I feel like I can't spontaneously whip out my camera and start shooting. This has led me to consider a logical next step. If my goal while in Trinidad is to document my experiences, then why not document my experience as a photographer being cat called? If men pull over on the side of the road and ask me if I want to take their picture, why not take their picture? I've been thinking about this "Portraits of Cat Callers" idea for about a week or so now, and although I like the idea, I'm still hesitant to try it because it involves confronting a reality about my surroundings that I don't feel very comfortable about... which is interesting because I find that to be one of the best reasons to take photographs.

I've been working on a few other mini projects for a couple weeks now, and we'll see if any of those start taking me in another direction that I haven't considered yet. I've started photographing Maxi Taxis to look at the Maxi as a means of personal, aesthetic, and religious expression for the Maxi Drivers, and I'm also working on a two multimedia pieces. The first is a very short practice piece on a Phagwa ceremony I attended, to try out SoundSlides for the first time and to experiment with combining stop motion animation, still images, and sound into a multimedia piece. The second, slightly longer piece is on TriniRevellers/Tribe designer, Gina Maingot, and how her vision for Carnival mas reflects where Carnival mas has been and where its going. I've only done one other multimedia piece, Coming To Terms, a piece about my Growth Hormone Deficiency, which is still a work in progress (when I have time to revisit it, I want to take out all of the video and replace it all with stop motion animation). While I learned a lot about multimedia production in working on Coming To Terms, it was done with a different (much more complicated) program, Final Cut Pro, and I had the help of an experienced friend to work through the project. While I understand that SoundSlides is infinitely simpler than Final Cut Pro, and that it will be perfectly adequate for my needs, since I'm not using video, I haven't used it yet. As a result, my experience using it for the Phagwa piece and the Gina Maingot piece will help me decide if I want to work with straight photography for my final presentation at Alice Yard, or if I want to try lacing in some sound and stop motion animation. We'll see. Here's to experimentation!


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