The workshop plan below will help you develop ideas for photos and videos that you might like to submit. Do you belong to a school or organization that might be interested in participating in this project? Feel free to use the lesson plan below, or invite the artists to visit.
Introduction: Share Your Light
Have you ever noticed a moment when light is shining or reflecting in a particularly unusual or stunning way? Perhaps you have already taken photos of such images. If so, you can submit them to the project for consideration. To create more photos, take a moment to reflect on your day, your activities, and the ways that light changes as we go through our day. Maybe you’ve seen morning light stream through trees onto a sidewalk or have been mesmerized by the blur of headlights in oncoming traffic. If you haven’t noticed this kind of imagery, maybe you will become aware of it as you work on this project.
Typically, when we think of striking displays of light, we might think about a sunset at the beach or glints of sun in a child’s hair. But most of us have real lives that are not postcards all day long, right? Our most striking experiences of light might start with the glare of an alarm clock; and from there, one person’s experience might include the lights on an ambulance or heart monitor; another’s might be the neon of a storefront. A close look at those everyday lights can be intriguing. We would like for you to share yours with us.
In this project, we are asking you to share your light with us—in a photo or brief video, capture a moment of unusual light in your neighborhood or place of school/work in Tampa. We’ll be helping you come up with ideas about how to do this (see “Creative Process” below).
If you have or can borrow a cell phone with a still camera or video camera, it should work well. Or, if you have a digital camera that can take high-quality photos, it will render even higher quality imagery. If you have no access to digital imaging equipment like this, we can loan you a camera to use. Talk to your teacher or group leader about borrowing one from us. You will need access to a computer to upload your submission to an account such as Facebook, YouTube, or Flickr, so that we can view your submission.
Some Basic Photography Techniques
Kodak’s Top 10 Tips for Great Pictures can be a helpful source (http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-path=317/10032&pq-locale=en_US), but your work will be more experimental, so you can “break the rules” as well:
1) Shoot A Lot of Photos
Great photographers often shoot hundreds of photos just to get one good one. Shoot at least 10-20, if you can, and then see which ones you believe are most unusual.
2) Experiment With Perspective
Experiment with various perspectives when shooting your subject. Get on eye level, shoot down from above, up from below, off to the side, etc.
3) Notice Your Background
Complex backgrounds can distract viewers from what you want to be your focal point. When this is the case, experiment by moving around your subject to find a simple background that will not disrupt your subject matter. At the same time, you might want to show depth by showing something in the background that is at a significantly different distance than your foreground subject. Experiment!
4) Get Off-balance: Rule of Thirds
Rather than centering your subject, consider moving your focal point off-center for more engaging effect. See information on Rule of Thirds at http://photoinf.com/General/KODAK/guidelines_for_better_photographic_composition_rule_of_thirds.html and other sites.
5) Experiment with Framing/Cropping
Move in close to your subject. Zooming in draws your viewers in, makes the space more personal, and captures detail. Shoot vertically, diagonally, horizontally.
6) Consider Your Light
The angle of the sun changes at every moment of the day. In the morning we see strong, bright light that comes at us at an angle as the sun rises. At noon, we see the sun much more directly above us, casting shadows downward. In the evening, before sunset, the “golden hour” brings soft light (ideal to many photographers). Pitch dark can be an interesting backdrop for street signs, cars, and other human-made light.
7) Consider Your Atmosphere
Monet famously studied the visual effects of atmosphere on subjects and attempted to capture those changes in impressionistic painting. For example, he painted the same haystack on various days throughout the year to experiment with “atmospheric perspective” in each season. How did the haystack look on a snowy day? How about under a strong summer sun? A rainy, overcast day lights your world differently than a bright day does. Experiment with atmosphere if you can.
8 ) Watch for Interesting Shadows
Shadows can be interesting elements in a photograph. Experiment with where the shadows fall at different moments in the day.
9) Focus on a Subject
When you locate a subject of interest, move in close and shoot a lot of photos of that subject, experimenting with all the techniques above. When choosing your subject, consider who your main audience is—in this case, your potential audience will consist of many strangers coming to the waterfront park or visiting online. They won’t know your family members, so pics of your mom and dad will probably not be meaningful, unless there is something else interesting about that photo. Are they engaged in an interesting or unusual activity? Is there a particularly vivid way that light is playing off surfaces or creating shadows?
A good idea for the start of a creative project is to plan your process.
Creative projects usually begin with this step—writing down as many ideas as you have, to begin with. Let them fall out of your head without worrying about whether they are “good” or “bad” ideas. You can sort through them later. Let’s do this together now. Take out a sheet of paper and list as many places as you can think of in your life that might offer interesting light. Think about your home, school, or place of work. Let’s start with your neighborhood. Does light stream into a back yard or front yard in interesting ways? Are there particular objects that reflect that light? What about a sidewalk, street light, or line of traffic? Remember to consider what time of day might offer the best lighting effects. How about your school or place of work (if any)? Buildings you frequent? Stores or office buildings you visit? List them all.
Select a few of these ideas as starting points for taking some experimental shots. Why have you chosen the items you selected? What makes them interesting to you?
Shoot at least 10 photos at a time of the same subject, if you can, so that you will have many shots from which to choose your best.
Submit your best work (see “How to Submit Your Work”).
Best of Luck!