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Playing with My Camera

I’ve always enjoyed snapping pictures and playing with my camera (much to my brothers’ chagrin).  When my brother and dad bought me my first digital camera in 2004, I was hooked.  I could snap as many pictures as I wanted, view them right away, delete them, and take some more.  I kept telling myself that someday I’d dig out my camera manual and learn how to use all the features on my camera… well, that camera died and I’m onto my second, and I still haven’t done that.

I did enroll in an art photography course this semester, in an attempt to expand my ideas about photography and learn more about taking pictures.  The course wasn’t quite what I expected, but it has challenged me and given me new things to think about when I pick up my camera.  One of those is the idea of a theme or focus to my photography—and condensing that into a photographic typology.

Our professor talked about Bernd and Hilla Becher, a German photographer couple who focused on taking pictures of industrial buildings.  They went around Europe, photographing factories and water towers and other structures, many of which would soon be torn down (like the grain elevators on the Canadian prairies) as they were no longer useful.  They then arranged these pictures in grid, allowing the viewer to see similarities and differences.

The idea of creating typologies caught my attention.  We were assigned a typology project for class, and for several weeks I wondered what to shoot.  On the day that it snowed here in Victoria, I took pictures of the kids standing in the snow—plain white background, children bundled in their snow clothes.  I also wandered around taking pictures of the cars covered in the snow, but there was a bit much snow for that idea; you couldn’t see enough of the cars.

Food was my first idea, and I spent a bit of time arranging meals and taking pictures of them before eating.  After I’d collected about six or seven pictures, I began to doubt it, and tried a few other ideas.  I came back to the food, though, as the most interesting project.  I found it intriguing to note what sort of meals made good “pictures” and also found myself thinking about the way food is photographed for menus or magazines.

And then, of course, my photographic ideas turned to my kids.  I liked the Bechers’ water tower typologies—variations on a similar theme.  Digging through the girls’ toy box, I found all their rattles… admittedly, not quite as similar as water towers, but still interesting when compared to each other.  They had one “iconic” rattle: the simple, old-fashioned kind that you think of when you hear “baby rattle.”  The others are all more “fun” or different.  Side by side, though, I liked the effect.

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