2.23.2010

a little background story

The other day a person asked me if I'd ever taken a photography class. I looked at them and felt shy, but decided to let them in on the fact that yes I did once take a class. It was my first year in college and what I loved about the class was learning the process of developing my own film. To me that became the exciting part of it, but there was a whole other side that was not comfortable in the least.

You see, my professor each week asked us to turn in one photo that we felt was a good one and each week I would receive a terribly low grade. This makes me blush even now that I was doing so poorly in a class. I did, however, inquire as to how to receive a higher score and my professor just sort of shrugged his shoulders along with the words, "keep trying." So then I asked how he decided if a photograph was good or not. His reply was that he just knew what was good and what wasn't...like a gut feeling. Beginning to feel more frustrated and yet determined to try I turned in photo after photo.

Near the end of the quarter, I had only received one A and the rest were basically failing grades. Thank goodness for tests because I was able to still pass the class, but unfortunately what happened next was I set my Pentax back in its case and barely took photos for years. Feeling inadequate and letting the professor's words and grades affect me, I stopped doing something I enjoyed.

It wasn't until the end of my time at the University that I decided to try once more. I only shared my photographs with one friend and in turn he would gently let me know what he thought and encouraged me a great deal to keep at it. His enthusiasm was so infectious that soon taking photographs became a great joy to do anytime and anywhere. I will always be grateful for my friend being so caring, aware, and thoughtful.

Each day I'm still learning how to use cameras and what setting is good for what type of light etc., but I love the process even the mistakes along the way. I've realized that it's okay to do something you love no matter what the professor or critic or bully thinks.

camera: polaroid spectra

15 comments:

  1. wow that's really a bummer that your teacher discouraged you like that. Isn't art all about having an open mind? I'm glad you kept it up after all - your photos are beautiful.

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  2. It's unbelievable what passes for "teaching" .... That you could be trying and trying and completing every assignment and still only *barely* pass because it is so so subjective?
    It's just sad.
    Glad you started up again.
    xo

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  3. School never inspired me, and I am sure that if I took photography in school, I would have gotten B's and C's, like I normally did.
    I am so glad school, and your teacher, did not push you away from photography, because look at what you create?
    beautiful things.

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  4. Thanks for sharing that Alexandria. I, too, am glad that you started shooting again. Having that kind of support from friends is so valuable. So, good on him too!

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  5. I also took a photography class in college and loved developing my own film. I did well in my class, but never felt like a photographer. Then in the past few years I've found myself loving photography and now I experiment almost every day. It is my new hobby now.

    P.S. I love your photos they have a soft beauty to them and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That professor didn't see true beauty when it was right in front of him ;)

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  6. Hmm, what the hell was that professor thinking, exactly?! Alexandria, your photos are wonderful, and you surely had a great message with that story. I'm glad you're not discouraged, because your photographs are beautiful. I hope you know that.

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  7. What a horrible professor! What was he thinking? Art is so subjective and personal. I think that that's the beauty of it -taking a certain kind of pictures to please one person/professor is just ridiculous.
    I'm so happy that you began taking pictures again so we can all enjoy the beauty of them!
    Beautiful post, Alexandria.

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  8. i must be hard to share that - i was blessed by great teachers in that they really taught me a lot about composition and such in the few classes that i got to take. my mistakes are all my own. the thing is, we have to love what we're photographing or it's just not going to come through. it's hard to take pictures of things that do not interest you - it's his fault that he didn't inspire you or challenge you.

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  9. alexandria, many thanks for your kind comment. i am so glad you wrote because it directed me to your blog, and i look forward to following along. your photos are lovely. keep it up!

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  10. We are impressed with your photo same as you have been impressed with scenes in front of your camera.

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  11. oh wow. what a crappy professor you had. i think most of us can relate in one way or another, but i had a very similar experience, also in college. geez. thank goodness for your friend who encouraged you to continue! alexandria, your photos are beautiful. they are unique. they are inspiring. they open us up to a whole different way of looking at the world. they are dreamlike and ethereal. you inspire me all the time with your work and i thank you for that. never stop. :::

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  12. Thank goodness you kept taking pictures! I think they're lovely and I think one person's opinion should never be enough to disuade you from doing what you enjoy!

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  13. your professor was an ass, instructors are supposed to INSTRUCT and encourage. failing someone on an intro art assignment is ridiculous.

    i'm glad you had a friend to help you continue. you take lovely photos.

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  14. Do what you love. Your photos are beautiful and unique.

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  15. Alexandria,

    I am seriously infuriated by the actions of this professor. I had something similar happen years ago when I was an undergrad, in a writing class. I'd inquire about how to improve my work and she'd tell me (in a condescending fashion) to write better. I was turned off to writing for so long because of this. I just don't understand this behavior. I'm so happy that you were able to find joy in photography again. Your work is beautiful. I give you an A+!

    Sincerely,
    Denise

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