This guidebook provided the foundation for my project. I did not read it cover to cover but skimmed most of the text, slowing down to read the parts that pertained to my project rather than the implementation of the Unfamiliar Genre Project in classrooms. I found the idea of genre study to be an interesting perspective and purposeful way of teaching writing. The text provided precise expectations for the process I would undergo and the product I would produce.Bustard, Bruce I. Picturing the Century: One Hundred Years of Photography from the National Archives. Seattle: National Archives Trust Fund Board and the University of Washington Press, 1999. Print.
This collection is relevant for pinpointing key events in the twentieth century through 157 images. The wars, movements, tragedies, and happenings of the 1900s are portrayed in just a series of images -- quite a feat for a simple set of photos from the National Archives. I flipped through this book rather quickly, but a few photographs stood out for their simplicity. The most iconic is the one on the cover of a man turning a large wheel with a wrench, his arms flexed with tension, the physical toil of labor evident. The subject is more basic than most in the book (a human being at work), but the image is transcendent. Photography has a way of making simplicity meaningful and elegant.D’Aluisio, Faith and Peter Menzel. “Hungry Planet: What the World Eats.” Time Magazine. 20 Sept. 2013. Time, Inc. Web. 12 Oct. 2013.
This was my favorite photo essay. The authors went around the world photographing families with all the food they had in their living quarters. The photos were held together by a clear theme, enhanced by informative captions, driven by a compelling narrative, and compiled with a great deal of planning. The photos are not extraordinary in themselves—each one was staged quite deliberately. Yet the subject is so clear, the diversity so wide, and the topic so intriguing that the reader is forced to reflect on what words do not fully express. This is a fine example to follow.Davidson, John and Maria Mann. “Language of the Image.” News University. Poynter Institute. 23 Sept. 2013 http://www.newsu.org/angel/content/loti/loti.htm.
As part of Journalism Class, I took this online course on photography. I rediscovered some elements of photography that are important, among them quality of light, emotion, mood, sense of place, rule of thirds, point of entry, perspective, and layering. Additionally, the course provided a reminder that photography is a relatively subjective, artistic endeavor. There are some standards (as in any genre), but there is much room to integrate a personal touch in the photos.Draper, Robert. “The Power of Photography.” National Geographic Magazine. Oct. 2013. National Geographic. Web. 12 Oct. 2013.
Since National Geographic is renowned for their images, I thought a tutorial on the art of photography from their pages would be a worthwhile read. This article is by one of their writers musing on the work that goes into being a National Geographic photographer, so it is a written piece about the process of photography. Though the incredible circumstances in which these photographers work will not pertain to my project, I appreciated the author’s descriptions of commitment to the subject in the photo and lengths to which one goes to tell a comprehensive story through image.Ghomeshi, Jian. “‘Humans of New York’ blog-turned-book will seize your heart.” Q. Canadian Broadcasting Channel. Radio-Canada. 25 Oct. 2013. Radio.
This radio program introduced me to Humans of New York and to its author Brandon Stanton. In the program he talks about his process of creativity, the narrowing of his focus, the acquisition of photography and interviewing skills, and the response to the project that has generated hundreds of thousands of followers online and a newly published book. A story told well through imagery and minimal words can absolutely reach people in the routine of their ordinary lives. I hope my story can do the same.Horton, Brian. Associated Press Guide to Photo Journalism. Second ed. New York: McGraw Hill Books, 2001. Print.
This guide is more comprehensive than I need, but I found some useful tips for going about photographing the subject, among them: plan ahead, focus on what the photograph communicates, treat subjects with care, anticipate so the moment isn’t lost, and be adaptable. Photography is tougher than writing in some ways because once an opportunity passes it can’t be captured. At least in writing the memory can be recalled. Photography, the book notes, needs a rapid response or it’s gone.Loengard, John. LIFE Classic Photographs: A Personal Interpretation. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1988. Print.
This and Picturing the Century were the only photography books I could find in our Mount Angel Library. Loengard compiled photographs that are funny, historically relevant, interesting, rare, and many other qualities. More than anything, each photo in the book tells a story that is made vivid by the quality of the photograph and the intrigue of the subject captured. This book was primarily useful to me for the quality of its work rather than as an true example of the photo essay.Nahr, Dominic. “The Uprising.” Magnum in Motion. 2011. Magnum Photos, Inc. Online.
Though I focused much of my genre immersion on learning about the art of photography, the need to be journalistic and focused in my work is still apparent. This story is an example of a journalist portraying society-rattling events by going into the storm with a camera and recorder. The events in Cairo form a story the world needs to hear. Through image and sound, Dominic Nahr tells that story to the people.Nelson, Cary. “A Photo Essay on the Great Depression.” Modern American Poetry. 2013. Department of English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 5 Nov. 2013.
Some told the story of the Great Depression with words like John Steinbeck. Some told it through images like Dorothea Lange and Jack Delano. This compilation of black-and-white photographs depicts a historical period of scarcity. It captures not important people or events but ordinary folks and downtrodden towns that were very typical of the time. The captions further illuminate what the pictures begin to tell. The result is a haunting reminder that the economy and nation are not immune from descent to poverty, but that the human spirit perseveres.“Sit and Stay: Iconic Images of Hollywood Stars and their Dogs.” Time Magazine. Time, Inc., 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2013 <http://entertainment.time.com/2013/09/20/sit-and-stay-iconic-images-of-hollywood-stars-and-their-dogs/>. (Note: Originally from Dance, Robert. Hollywood Dogs: Pictures from the John Kobal Foundation. Suffolk, United Kingdom: The John Kobal Foundation, 2013.)
This fun exposition appealed to me for research because its subjects were posed and its topic was ordinary. The black and white photos give into the fancy of star gawkers and old cinema junkies who want to see movie stars in an ordinary light. I like the playfulness of the project and the theme carried through the photos. The captions are fairly bare, which lets the seer of photos fill the gaps of the story.Stanton, Brandon. Humans of New York. Brandon Stanton, 2010-2013. Web. 27 Oct. 2013. <http://www.humansofnewyork.com>.
Can a blog be a photo essay? In this case, yes. The simplicity of Brandon Stanton’s project—to create a “photographic census” of people in New York City—oozes with potential for stories, some funny or personal, others touching or wrenching. His skill in approaching people and provoking them to lower their defenses is vital for a photographer and a journalist. His blog is wildly popular and a fascinating photo essay because people relate to the simple bits of humanity they see in the faces and words of the subjects portrayed.“This Incredible Obituary May Be The Best Thing You Read All Week.” The Huffington Post. 7 Sept. 2013. Online. 8 Sept. 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/07/grandparents-day-2013_n_3887074.html>.
While not a photo essay, this obituary presented a good starting point for understanding creativity within a genre. The author included the elements needed for an end-of-life piece (age, survivors, memorial times) in a fresh and expressive way. This example shows how the idea of genre can give structure but also allow for creativity within the expectations.