Finally after some pondering over how best to concisely and accurately present my impressions on the New School 2005 seminar series I decided that it is best that I divided the post by people rather than days and then add some more comments. I realise, whatever I write will not be able to do real justice to the vast amount of knowledge that I gained in those four days, still I am vain enough to try.
First the cribs: The organizers were a bit sloppy, given the fact that this was held at a 5 star hotel and most of the on venue things were already taken care of they could have very well taken care that the AV systems and other equipment were setup properly and well in advance. Also they could have had better communication with the speakers and what would be the content of their talk – other than that things went very smoothly
Joyce Tenneson : Subtle sensuous spirituality This is the person I was most impressed with – in fact I gave her the epitaph of “Goddess of photography”. After having authored 10 books you cannot expect anything less. She presented using 35mm transparency slides and was the only one who did so, a practiced presenter, her style was simple and honest. What amazed me most was her confession that her studio setup is almost never more than 2 lights set at an angle of 45 degrees and when outdoors she just uses a clip-able backdrop and a reflector.
Jay Maisel : Visual Vitality “To be a good photographer it is a good start if you have your camera with you!” Indeed Jay always had his camera with him, he even took pictures of the audience he was presenting to!
“Make your mind do visual push-ups” was his advice. He showed how after you have mastered light, color and point of view it is actually the gesture which the photograph makes to the viewer which is most important. His pictures have highly saturated contrasting colors which he told he fell in love with when he started using Kodachrome film and thats what he strives for even in digital.
David Zimmerman : Ingenious Imagery This was the day when the master of spill and liquid photography revealed it all. David was the most honest of all the presenters – I am sure everyone has seen those Coke and Pepsi ads with splashes of ice streams of fluids – he showed how he did it… Most of the props like glasses and bottles are 300% bigger, the Pepsi/Coke is diluted to give the transparency, if the splash is required to be of a specific shape then it is crafted out of resin and then fluid splashed on them. The result even when demystified is nothing short of magic.
In the second part of his presentation he talked about his affair with aerial photography and how he is building his own airplane in his garage. He ended his slot with an almost spiritual presentation about his trip along the path of the Ganges river.
Intermingled among all this were tips about how to make money, how agents and art galleries work and how *you* are your only real competition.
Max Vadukul : Maniac Materialism His pictures are crazy, he said beauty is boring and almost everyone is photograph-able. He showed ample examples to prove his point but the best part was a 3 hour photo shoot he held as a demo, he kept everything very simple, lit the set with just one single large Octa. The magic came from the way he directed the girls and the way he cropped the final results. The first thing he told the models was to stop posing and start having fun – he would keep adding small increments of instructions as the girls kept moving and finally trip the shutter when you least expected it.
He also extolled the youngsters to not give up on their dreams, stay away from alcohol, drugs and unprotected sex.
Sanjay Kothari : Crass Commercialization This man was the biggest disappointment, he was unprepared and very reluctant to share knowledge. He took upon a project to demonstrate which everyone knew could not be completed in the given time – audience did mange to coax things out of him but less said the better about that…
Some other mentionable tidbits – I talked with a lot of youngsters about what they want from Photography – money was the most recurring answer – sadly. There were, again sadly, more girls smoking than boys. Chivalry is nearly dead in metros and letting a lady get ahead in line took most by surprise.
I got autographs on prints of all the above photographers