Monday, June 1, 2009 (17/365)

Back to school. Just two more Mondays to go. . . .

Couldn’t be more proud of my yearbook team, pushing through to make a deadline of 80 pages in under two weeks. That’s a record for us, for sure. I’ve never had a team make all of their deadlines and avoid the dreaded summer work sessions, but it looks like this crew is going to do just that.

I noticed that LIFE Magazine (I had no idea that they were still in existence in ANY form) just released never-before-seen photos of Marilyn Monroe, shot in 1950. A few things: I am not obsessed with Marilyn’s life, though I think it would be an easy thing for me to get caught up in. And as I was looking at some of the photos just released, I noticed two things.

First, in these photos of her when she was just 24, there is still a sense of innocence, of trust, of belief in herself, in you, in me, in the world. There’s hope. There’s certainly love. Did that ever change? Some of the pictures that I have seen of her when she is older hint at an affected actress who abandoned that innocence, trust, and belief–but with regret. I could be way off on this, as I have never read any biography of her, even in the eighties when everyone was comparing Madonna to her.

Second, look at the quality of this photo, below. This portrait was taken nearly 60 years ago with equipment that is inferior in every way to the cyborg-ish creation I am receiving today. Yet, it reminds me that it never stops being about the basics: shutter speeds, apertures, lighting, and composition. I don’t care how many computer chips and microsensors are embedded in the camera; if you can’t take it off Program mode and control the settings, you’re just another point-and-shoot hobbyist who takes all the credit for incredible photos that had nothing to do with you.

I’m not being harsh here. Perspective is a big part of photography and it is what makes your art unique. I’ve seen plenty of award-winning photos taken by artists/photographers with point-and-shoots who know how to manipulate the camera. They understand the basics of photography, though, and make that point-and-shoot come alive.

We have a Sony Cybershot that we can’t stand. No matter what we try to do with it, the camera ends up taking pictures that are over- or underexposed. It’s supposed to make us look good as photogs; instead, it makes my Blackberry phone look like a Nikon CoolPix camera. In an effort to make it the everything camera for everybody, Sony created a middle-of-the-road point-and-shoot that leaves no room for the photographer.

In other words, it doesn’t believe that we have the ability to participate in the quality of the photo. That we know what we might be doing. That we have enough knowledge to manipulate the settings.

When Bellatrix arrives today, I will learn every aspect, every field, every option that is available. Yet, I find it absolutely hysterical that I keep in the back of my mind: Yeah…my goal is to someday shoot pictures like they used to take in 1950. . . .

We’ll see!

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