Thursday, September 25, 2008

My ART through the Years

I want my readers to know about my background in art and how I got into photography.

I have always been an excellent student, but art classes were my favorite. There was just something about getting my nose out of the textbooks and using my imagination that intrigued me. Creating artwork was my outlet.

Early in my schooling, I strived for absolute perfection in my artwork. I grew up in upstate New York and attended small schools. In elementary school, I was one of Mrs. Messing's prized art students. I was one of two second graders to be put into an advanced art class called Gateways Art. (My best friend, Yoko Matsumura was in that class with me). I remember feeling so priviledged to be in that class. The only project I remember making was a pig out of clay. The clay pig was fired in the kiln and later painted and glazed. I vividly remember dropping my finished clay pig on the ground. The pig's ear had a big chip in it. I cried, "Mrs. Messing, my project is ruined!" Mrs. Messing smiled and said, "There are no mistakes in art, just happy accidents. Your pig is unique and I love it!" I thought my teacher would be mad at me, but to my surprise she was pleased. Mrs. Messing made me realize that I still did a fantastic job on my project.

(not the orignial pig)

Throughout high school, I took art classes. My favorite year of art class was my senior year. I was excited to have a new teacher, Mr. Gill. After a few days of art class, Mr. Gill pulled me aside and asked me if I wanted to do extra projects. At first, this sounded crazy to me. Why would I want to have more work than the rest of the students?! My teacher told me that I was getting the projects done so fast, my artwork was excellent, and that he wanted me to be challenged and learn more. So, I agreed to this crazy idea. So, in addition to the regular projects that everyone else had to do, I also improved my drawing and painting skills through the extra projects. I am so glad that my art teacher saw my potential and took the time to teach me additional skills. It would be fun to see Mr. Gill again, tell him how much he's influenced me, and show him all of my artwork.

When it came time for me to apply to college, I was having trouble deciding what my major should be. I knew that I did not have to decide right away, but I wanted to have a plan. Mr. Gill pushed me to be the best artist I could be and I was enjoying the whole process. I decided that I should major in art. My original plan was to become an art teacher.

I studied art at Brigham Young University-Idaho. I found the classes to be challenging. I felt like the underdog, not having as much training and experience as the other students. (I attended a small high school and had never taken any additional art classes outside of school). Through hard work and dedication, my skills in the arts improved greatly. I loved learning, I received good grades in class, but I was burnt out from all of the projects. During my fourth semester of college, I no longer wanted to major in art. The orginal plan to become an art teacher was something I no longer desired. It was a sad realization since art was my passion, my outlet, my way of expressing myself. After talking with my adviser, I learned that by the end of that school year, I could earn an Associate Degree in Arts and Sciences if I were to take a Biology class. So I dropped my watercolor class I was currently enrolled in and signed up for Biology. At the end of that school year, I received my Associate Degree.

By the time I returned to school that upcoming fall, I knew that I had to have a new major picked out. All sorts of ideas ran through my head. I narrowed my major down to a few. I believe my ideas were English, Home and Family Living, and Photography. That summer (2002) I was working at Jacob Lake Inn near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. One of the things I enjoyed most was the beauty of the landscape. I did not own a fancy camera, but I did happen to capture a few decent photos of the Grand Canyon on my inexpensive film camera. Those photos are very meaningful to me. I stared at them often when thinking about a major in Photography.

(scanned photo)

I looked at several other pictures I had taken in the past. Later, I remembered taking a photography class my junior year in high school. The class was only 8 weeks long and was the only photography class offered in high school. The class had only ten students and was taught by the band director, Mr. Gergely. We used film SLR cameras and used only black and white film. We learned the ideas of what makes a photograph pleasing to the eye. We also learned how to develop film and how to print photographs in the darkroom. My favorite part of the class was taking the photos, not processing them. Mr. Gergely took me aside and told me that I had "an eye for photography" and that I should definately continue to persue photography. With those encouraging words from Mr. Gergely, I decided to persue a degree in Photography.

I began the fall semester of 2002 excited to learn more about photography. The cameras we used were still the film SLR cameras and we were using black and white film. Those classes were very challenging and time-consuming. Standing up in front of the whole class to explain my photos was hard. What was harder was when I would occassionally receive negative feedback about my photos. I put so much time and effort into completing each assignment. And to have my photos receive bad reviews got depressing at times. The critiques of my photos from my professors and my fellow students encouraged me to improve my photography.

I always tried my best and my work continued to improve as I entered into the next photography class. I rented both the film SLR camera and the digital camera from the school. Learning how to use both types of cameras was fun. In this class, I was introduced to digital photography, a whole new world. Digital Photography was not the focus of that class, but we learned some basics. I was more interested in digital photograhy than the more traditional film photography. Digital photography seemed more versitile not to mention, quicker results. It would have been nice if the professor would have taught more digital photography in that class.

I got married that spring(2003)and moved to Utah with my husband. Fast forward to the winter 2004 semester. I was attending Weber State University and was enrolled in a Junior Level Photography class. Weber State University had been voted to be the home to the best darkroom in the state of Utah, which made me particulary excited to be in the class.

Too bad that the instructor was horrible. (The class was suppose to begin at 8 a.m., but the professor showed up 15 minutes late for almost every class. Also, there were times when she would bring her dog to class and let him wander around the classroom. Talk about distracting! But worst of all, the there were numerous times when I would see the professor outside the art building, standing in a circle, smoking with other students).

I was a transfer student and had to learn a whole new way of discussing photography. It was like the professor and the students had their own language that I could not understand. During every class, I made it a point to make comments and participate as much as possible in the class discussions. But, most of the time, everyone, including the professor, would give me a strange look and tell me that I did not understand the point they were trying to make. was so frustrating to me!

And in that class, the professor wanted us to do a self-directed project. Before we could begin this project, we had to get our project idea approved by the professor. I had several ideas that I ran by the professor. She would not approve any of my ideas. So when it was mid-term time, we were suppose to a class presentation on our self-directed project we were working on. Sad to say, I had nothing to present. I believed that I was probably going to fail the class. After talking with my teacher, she felt it would be best if I dropped the class, practiced photographing with the school's camera, and enroll in the class the following semester. To me, it felt like she was telling me that I was not good enough to be in her class and that I would have to prove to her that I was worthy of entering her class.

So I unwilling took the professor's advice and dropped the class. I felt that I would rather have a "W" on my transcript (for withdrawing the class) instead of a failing grade. I was upset about the whole thing, but was determined to improve my photography.

My husband bought me a refurbished film SLR camera for Christmas that year. I was so excited and took photos constantly. I never did sign up for that Junior Level Photography class again. That professor was the only person who taught that class and she was just too much for me to handle. I felt that I could teach myself photography.

So, from that point on, I have done alot with my photography. I have done several free photo shoots for people: families, seniors, children, engagements, excetera. I even have been the official photographer of two weddings.

About four years ago, I took a five week PhotoShop class. I wish that Weber State University offered more than just one short PhotoShop class. It's been so long since I that class that I do not remember anything I was taught in PhotoShop. Plus I no longer live near Weber State University.

My husband finally got me a great digital camera this past Christmas. I have been using this camera exclusively since Christmas.

My intentions are to learn everything there is to know about my digital camera, to take more digital photo editing classes, and to build up my portfolio by doing occassional photo sessions. With my camera instruction manual in hand, a PhotoShop Elements for Photographers class starting next week, and plenty of volunteers that will let me photograph them, I am well on my way in becoming a professional photographer. Wish me luck!

*** Oh, and if you have any suggestions: marketing advice, critiques of my work, photo editing programs I should try, excetera, let me know by leaving comments. Thank you!

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