High School – Roll 10

Blog, Photography / Thursday, May 2nd, 2024

This roll of film appears to be a potpourri of class assignments and a handful of these photos look great to me today. This is another roll where I decided that the photos I don’t remember from the bunch are much better than the ones I do remember.

Some of the assignments include: reflections, depth of field, and leading lines. Can you spot which are which? Have you already guessed that I used the bathroom floor as my ‘leading lines’ photograph?

Seeing all of these assignments in one place makes me think about the portfolio we built throughout the semester long class in high school. Everything in that portfolio was an assignment and was graded. All of the photos had a theme and requirements. Now, many years later, it begs the question of whether I would take any of those photos today. Was I only photographing things because I was required to? If not for the assignments, what would I have used my camera for? I know I have rolls which were developed outside of class, but those mostly came after these and were ultimately influenced by this class.

I’ve been trying to study photography through various media lately. YouTube videos are one avenue, though often those videos are make or break with the personality of the content creator. I’ve also picked up a few books and I’ve only just started to delve into them. I started with The Art of Seeing which was put out into the world by Kodak and encourages the reader to stop taking the photos you expect yourself to take and instead take photos of anything and everything that strikes your fancy. The cynicism in me thinks, “Of course Kodak would want you to take photos of whatever and risk the film on something different, that’s how they sell more film.” However, as silly as it sounds that’s much of the same approach my teacher in high school wanted us to follow.

Sure, she had themes for our assignments, but things like ‘leading lines’, ‘reflections’, and ‘depth of field’ force you to think about more than just a nice photo of nice people smiling at the camera. Would I have taken a photo of a bathroom floor if I had not been looking for the grout lines? Would I have so many photos of frozen crab apples if they didn’t strike me as the perfect subject to isolate from their background? It is unlikely.

Is that what I do today? No. Is that what I want to photograph today? Not really. Having a back that I need to take care of in my ever advancing age makes lying on the floor for an artsy photo less appealing. But health aside, we’re living in a vastly different atmosphere for photography than the early 2000s. Film is more expensive and harder to come by than it was twenty years ago. Most people shoot digital and even more people predominantly take photos on their phones. They can snap a whole roll of photos with their phone to get a perfect shot of frozen crab apples with a blurry backdrop.

Furthermore, I do not want to have photos of floors. I do not see crab apples and want to document them with anything other than my phone. The photos I take today, with film, are precious and each one is carefully selected to be a physical memory. So, when I take my camera out these days I do not shoot just the fleeting moments, I shoot the ones I want to remember. I pull in those lessons of the past to help me frame my photos and find interesting subjects, but I need more than an interesting subject to make a photo worthwhile.

At some point soon, I’ll start sharing photos that go beyond high school. Some from college, some from when I was young, and eventually some from the past couple years. Maybe you’ll see those and be able to pinpoint my usage of the assignments, maybe not. Either way, I think the non-high school photos are better representative of the things that I wanted to remember from that point in time and that is what makes those photos interesting to me.

Leave a Reply