Much of my early film work that I did in college is filed in boxes on the bottom shelves. The products of my photo 1 and 2 classes reflect my unfamiliarity with a darkroom and film, as well as my frustration with a fine art program that prized angst over technicalities. I hate much of what I produced for classes during that time.
Funnily enough, some of my better photographs from that time are the ones that I did on my own. It’s odd how sharply separated my work was. College projects would require us to come up with a concept, develop that concept, and print the results. My own work happened much more organically: I shot what I liked. To me, at least, what I liked turned out much better. I’ve never been very good at forcing ideas to emerge anyway.
This photograph is currently hanging on my wall. Even this many years later, I still love the play of light. The leaves remind me of home – magnolias are a southern thing, a foreign concept in the chilly regions of New England where I’m now transplanted.
I think this was something of the start of my love of nature’s details. No amount of still life that I set up would ever have the lovely randomness that these leaves have, and there is no way that I could replicate the natural dappled light with a few lights on stands. Well, perhaps I could – but it wouldn’t feel natural.
Oddly enough, this photograph happened because I needed to develop the roll of film and had a few frames left over. I spent my lunch break between classes wandering around the small park in front of the arts department (dodging homeless guys) looking for a few decent things to photograph so I could use up the film. Unlike most of my fellow students I always shot with 36 exposure rolls. It was cheaper in the long run, despite taking the tail of the film all the way to the very end of the film reel.
I still see the hot spots in this photograph and squirm – I didn’t know enough then to dodge and burn it correctly.