> After messaging a student and asking, "who are your
> favorite photographers", I received a the following
> responce: "Only photographer I know by name is Ansel
> Adams. I try not to look at pro's, the temtation is to
> great to coppy them. This way I think I will develope
> my own unique style."
> It's a statement I have heard many times in many
> different ways. When I respond to this student, I'd
> like to have an intelligent justification for the
> importance of artist research. I was curious to know
> how other teachers responded to similar statements
> made by students.
I think, in photo, more than any other art class I teach, the
opportunity to learn from other artists exists--- far more easily ....
I find in photo, far more than in the fine arts courses, kids will
look and look and ponder and ask questions about the avenues
photographers have taken for their expressions.
First, you have to provide the resources. I have a huge print
library, I have all the best magazines, I have web sources and I have
a good background on the those photographers who have made statements
and inroads. Ansel Adams is only one thing------ technique.
Photo history is the history I love most to teach because it ties
into so much other relevant stuff.
You have to give the "what-fors" in any area of art you teach. ---
"Why did this artist respond in this fashion?" what were the
circumstances? what was the context for the response?
I guess, I think, what we lack in art ed is teaching is about the
context of the times and why artists that made a difference ..what
was that that difference? why did the artist make a difference?
Photo history is soooo rich in observation. .. and what is more
important to the photographer or any artist, than observation? I tell
my students that there is absolutely nothing wrong with copying a a
photographer's style or intentions because it is absolutely
impossible to copy a photograph. In fact, I encourage the mimicry in
photo, because the result will be particular to the student, no
matter how hard they try to imitate.
Ansel Adams had the grand vistas to document. Our students only have
little vistas to capture. Teach about the photographers that found
the "grand" in the "little" and encourage the sight that photography
Artist research is not an option-----it's what made all of us
artists. Artist research is about history, and decision making, and
critical thinking and making pertinent judgments and nurturing the
artistic behavior. It's all about the big questions.
and what I like most about forcing the research, is that moment when
the kid 's light bulb goes off and says---
"oh, my... somebody else thought what I think and I can take that and
make it mine--- my thinking is valid."
Nothing is new. Things only get re-worked... and what gets more re-
worked than photo? The whole notion of photography is a limbo. The
best we can do, is encourage those that want to continue the
traditions to be very aware of those traditions. Otherwise, all we
have is unartistic documentation by means of cell phone and you tube,
or we find a ways and means to bring "intention" to what gets
plastered all over the place. God forbid, we don't teach kids about
careful selection and those who made the way.
There is so much to be said for student directed learning and self
direction. But it is still the smart teacher who know the ways and
means to question and get the self directed to look and make their
own questions- and cherish what was.