6-25-14 Working Through The Experiment (Amy Arbus Edition)

“Science, my boy, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.”
Jules Verne (Journey to the Center of the Earth)

Last night I finished my second class with Amy Arbus at the International Center of Photography. If you are not familiar with her work, you should be. She is a first class, top of the line, portrait maker and shooter of people. If you are a long time reader of QH you know I have been shooting primarily landscape for the past four years.

The first class I took, The Fleeting Moment, was, in my opinion, a mistake ridden mess (on my part).

As Samuel Beckett said…”No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

So I had to take the next class she offered (either The Narrative Portrait or The Extended Portrait – the name seemed very changeable) because I had learned so much about what not to do that I thought I might be ready to begin to start to maybe take a decent people shot.

My aesthetic and Amy’s do not agree. She loves clean and uncluttered. The frame may be full of things but clearly and precisely.  To me real life is about clutter and weird lines and the inconvenient fire extinguisher. Another good thing. Being challenged by intelligent and thoughtful people is always a positive experience.

A brief diversion, Anna, our TA, and the other students in both classes were excellent collaborators, critics and colleagues as well. This does not always happen in Continuing Ed classes.

At the very start of the class I got lucky. In casting about for a subject I asked Abigail and her friend, Lilah, if they would be my subject. They were both graduating high school (different ones), getting ready to say goodbye and moving into a new life stage. To my surprise they both said yes. In the work, we all enjoyed the process enough that we are discussing carrying it through the summer, right up until drop off day at their colleges. Over the next few weeks I will be occasionally showing some of the work that resulted from our collaboration.

I shot them together and separately. These images are from our first joint shooting day, May 9, in Riverside Park overlooking the Hudson River.

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4 responses to “6-25-14 Working Through The Experiment (Amy Arbus Edition)

  1. I’m glad you gave a recap of the Amy Arbus class. I told you how much I love her theatrical photography in particular. You’re right: Exposure to intelligent, talented people always helps us grow. Even when we don’t agree with them. Maybe especially when we don’t agree with them. Having followed your work for practically the entire existence of this site, I can see how your people pictures have grown in recent months. You’ve included a smattering of people shots here and there all along, but your confidence in what you’re doing with them now really comes through.

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