67 : Creative Potential Photo Club 1
I receive a lot of messages from people in my community asking them if I can give them feedback on their images or send them assignments so that they can actually get out in the world and explore through photography. Motivated by this, I've decided to create a new digital community and photo club called the "Creative Potential Photo Club".
For the people joining me in this project, this is a space where we can go out and explore the world through the lens for no reason other than to go out and explore the world. Through these photo assignments we'll explore our creative potential and skills as photographers. But I also hope that these assignments will increase the potential energy available within our creative systems (an idea I flesh out more in this blog post about self-care for creatives).
The goal of the first assignment is to meditate on the idea of exploring the world around us through the lens.
Go to a place you've never been to before—maybe a new neighbourhood in your city, an unexplored trail, or a nearby town. Take a 20 minute walk down a path you've never been down before. Leave your camera in your bag or your pocket and don't take any photos, exploring this new route visually without your camera as an intermediary.
Retrace your steps along that path and take one image of something you noticed along the way.
Write a short paragraph explaining why you took that photo.
When you set out on a walk with the goal of taking a photo, your eye, sharply attuned to engaging with the world visually, is attracted to every potential subject. It becomes virtually impossible to resist the desire to photograph anything and everything. With the first half of this assignment, the idea is to walk a new path with intention and engage with the world directly, without the camera obstructing that engagement. The second half of the assignment asks us to retrace our steps and challenges us to pick out one scene amongst all the visual cues we've just soaked up.
We don’t often look around when walking through parking lots. Our intense focus on getting to and from our cars makes it unnatural to stop and take a photo. Why immortalize such a barren place? This picture captures my feelings of being in a suburban shopping centre's sprawl. The sign declares MORE PARKING, a guide but also a reminder that we always need more. Everything in the scene is manmade; the few planted trees are dwarfed by light poles and advertisements. The only escape is the sky above, but even that is polluted by cars and the complex itself through heating, producing and transporting goods, and cementing over formerly natural areas. Meanwhile, another concrete box of a store is under construction. MORE STORES. MORE CUSTOMERS. MORE CARS. MORE PARKING.
Camera: Olympus AF-10 Twin + Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400
I was reaching the end of my walk and I had seen a couple possibilities, but nothing had especially peaked my interest. I was about to turn around and settle for one of my previous options, but instead I decided to go off the path to explore a distant bridge. I began wading through the knee-deep snow and as I turned the corner I caught a glimpse of the warm winter sun shining on a patch of beautiful golden grasses. I had found my spot. So technically I didn't retrace my steps, but hopefully this one picture still falls in line with the rules.
Camera: Nikon D3400
Going outside is difficult when it's super cold and overcast. I didn't really want to go on a walk when the windchill has been ranging between -28 to -35 deg C for the past few weeks. It doesn't help that I had midterms at the same time but I went on the walk! During my short walk I noticed how bright it was despite being overcast and the saturation of the trees and the sign looked really good. It was one of the only visual things I found remarkable during the walk.
Camera: Samsung Xcover 4
As I set out, I meditate on the idea of the zero. As I walk, I attune my eye to subjects that are so commonplace that they could have been photographed anywhere in the world. A vintage black Volkswagen beetle. The criss-crossing wires of power lines. A pile of mostly smoked and now discarded cigarette butts. As I turn around to retrace my steps, my mind settles on the image of an electricity meter framed on one side by plain grey cement and on the other by classic red brick. A large chunk of the world has electric power, and with that comes the need to trace usage. I reflect on the idea that this image could have been captured in one of many locations around the world.
Camera: iPhone 5s
Each month I send out new photo assignments by email. If you want to join the Creative Potential Photo Club, please send me an email at lifebyselena at gmail dot com and I'll add you to the list! After the submissions are compiled, I'll post the images online with the goal of fostering a digital community.