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The Photo Book of Questions?

Must news be new?

Is five years too soon?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a photo book worth?

 (bryan farley)

Five years ago, I taught at San Marin High School in Novato, California. From the moment I applied for the position on August 16th, 2010, until my last day at the school, I made powerful images. I started to belive in “photo gods.” I felt that if I just showed up with my camera, I would find a picture.

 (bryan farley)

During the last few months, I have been physically unable to take pictures at the same speed. Instead of making pictures, I have been making photo books. I created one book about the 2011 San Marin Boys Basketball team. In 2011, the team won its first North Coast Section championship in school history. Eventually, the team lost in the CIF State Tournament.

 (bryan farley)

I used Adobe Lightroom and Blurb to create a 110 page hard cover photo book. I called it, 5 Years Ago, 4 Games in Division 3 and I sent it to Coach Craig Pitti. I neglected to include my name anywhere on the book or envelope, but he figured out who sent it. He had seen some of the photos, but he hadn’t lived with them the same way that I had.

 (bryan farley)

Of course he had the memories… and now he has the book. Five years later.

If you wish to see the second version of the book, here is a link.

 

Mason Farley – And The Family Stone

Today is my birthday. My son’s birthday was six days ago. (I am a little older than he is.)

 (bryan farley)

Just as I did with my daughter on her tenth birthday, my son and I returned to the hospital where he was born ten years earlier for a photo shoot reunion. This time my daughter joined us since she had also been there when my son was born.

I also created a photo gallery of some of my favorite photos from his first ten years.

 (bryan farley)

My daughter called the hospital “Magic Land,” because it gave life. (You can see and read more here.) Mason did not seem as reverential as his sister, but that does not mean he dismisses magic or life.

 (bryan farley)

When we visited the Magic Kingdom six years ago, it rained much of the weekend. Mason found life where many of us found disappointment.

 (Bryan Farley)

Mason likes magic. Unfortunately, I could not find the old photos of “Mason the Magician,” but I found many wonderful memories. In many of the old photos, Mason seems to be looking for something too.

 (Bryan Farley)

He might become frustrated… and when he does, he expresses himself, but he never stops looking.

 (Bryan Farley)

even when he was young, he was always searching,

 (bryan farley)

always thinking,

 (bryan farley)

and always expressing himself.

 (Bryan Farley)

I remember when he was born, his sister held him in her arms at the hospital. She still holds him. I was raised as an only child and I don’t understand their bond, but I love watching it. They love each other in a way that I only imagine… and I imagine it often. I look at my old pictures and dream about it. One day, I might keep looking for more old photos and find the pictures from the day they were both born.

 (bryan farley)

Emotional Photography Mind Tricks

“Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the photo as a judgment that the photograph is good.” – Garry Winogrand

 (bryan farley)

I regularly ask my students to choose their favorite photographs and their best photographs. These are separate activities; however, for the reason that Winogrand mentions above, beginning photographers often confuse the difference. Students can mistake their positive memories for positive assessments. Other times, students’ memories cloud their ability to judge (or see) their best work. In other words, if a picture doesn’t feel good, it must not be good… or so it would seem.

 (bryan farley)

Gary Winogrand is not my favorite photographer. Nor do I think he is the best, but there is no doubting his influence, especially in the world of street photography. Three years ago, during the JEA/NSPA 2013 Spring National High School Journalism Convention, I visited SF MOMA ‘s Winogrand exhibit. Two days earlier, I had taught a photo workshop to student journalists. Until recently, I assumed that the workshop was a failure, because I measured the workshop by my emotions at the time.

I wish I had remembered Winogrand’s advice and waited before judging my photos.

 (bryan farley)

It isn’t as if my photographs from the 2013 Spring Convention are incredible, but they are not as bad as I felt. I had been part of the coordinating committee for more than a year. I planned workshops. I built my expectations too. I expected that the 2013 convention would be the best and my favorite of the 13 conventions I had attended.

It wasn’t my favorite, but it wasn’t as bad as I remembered either.

 (bryan farley)

While the Winogrand exhibit was at SF MOMA, Yale Professor Tod Papageorge gave an artist talk titled “Too Much is Enough.” If you have two hours, it is worth viewing. If not, I recommend that you jump to the one hour mark and watch ten minutes. Papageorge discusses Geoff Dyer’s concept of the  Ongoing Moment and how Winogrand illustrates something more poetic than I had imagined.

 (bryan farley)

Before the convention started, I wrote a blog post titled Getting Closer to the JEA Digital Photography Workshop. When I combine that title with Papageorge’s (Too Much is Enough), I think there might be a good philosophy for street photography, especially if we wait three years to review the photographs. Getting close and being “too much” is difficult. It can be painful. It can be emotional.

 (bryan farley)

One month ago, I wrote an article for Adviser Update about photography and emotions called Motion, Movement, and Emotion. As a photographer, I must reveal my emotions to connect with people. As a teacher, I construct emotional barriers so that I can maintain a private life. I like to believe that there is a logical explanation or formula, but at best, there is a philosophy that allows some of us to process the light and the shadows.

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