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The End of a Semester Part I

My final two blog posts for the semester will be a recap and reflection of everything I've done and how I've learned from my classes. In this first chapter I'll summarize my photo classes and my delving into Conceptual Art. My instructors in the BFA Photography program at TXST have not only pushed conceptual art, but also critiqued and guided me throughout developing a concept which I want to explore and make work around.

Darkroom Class: How did this class help me grow as an artist?

I've already expressed in previous posts how the analog method of photography (35mm film photography) has influenced my practice and given me better habits to create photo-work. This class has also helped me develop my concept in a more rhythmic, paced way. I am working with self-portraits and the concept of self-identity at the moment. This presents a set of challenges with my film camera. The timer limit, the fact that it's not electric so I need a cable/bulb to take portraits of myself, focusing is manual and sometimes difficult to achieve if I want only myself in focus (which photographers call shallow focus). Making self-portraits with film has been a painstaking, yet rewarding experience. I have been able to capture slower, more intentional, even more intimate shots of myself on film rather than with my digital camera. My instructor for this class is also an amazing conceptual artist, his critiques have helped me gain perspective when looking at my work. I ask myself questions, I ask my pictures questions, I take my time getting the technical elements right before taking a shot. I feel like I've come to understand that black and white 35mm film can help create a visual language based upon composition and contrast. Since there is no color in these prints, expressing things in a powerful way is reliant entirely on the contrast between the photos tones and on the subject matter, also on how it is arranged within the frame. I've learned (and am still learning) that I tend to lean toward lighter contrast. Mid-tones and smooth grays are more present in my pictures than rich black shadows or pure white highlights. This has helped me understand the visual language I want to speak when presenting my photographs as an installation. These are a few of my most successful self-portraits:

Intro to Digital Photography: How did this class help me focus on my own work?

While I've taken a few classes on photography in general and all have dealt with digital photography and how to take pictures, make books, and use your camera to your full potential; this class focused on just making work. While we had a review module for technical use of cameras, we focused on developing a concept and making work based on it. The best part of this class was undoubtedly the Lighting module and our final projects. With a small introduction to lighting before taking the Studio class next semester, I now have the knowledge of what types of light I want to use to convey certain statements in my work. Do I want my subject to be harshly lit? Do I want front-facing light? Should I use softer light? Color gels for lighting? I like being able to manipulate my light sources according to my needs and lighting provides just that and aids in the construction of a visual language that makes a sequence of images cohesive. Intro to Digital Photography has helped me embrace my concept and create work using all the techniques I've learned as a freshmen/sophomore in college. Now, I get to focus on my conceptual work and this class has been only the beginning. Here's some of my conceptual work:

Thanks for reading!

The next post is the last one for this blog!

-Gabe <3

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