A Photo Teacher |

Where You Live

Posted in PHOT 165 by Paul Turounet on August 21, 2008

© William Eggleston, from William Eggleston’s Guide; Joel Sternfeld, from On This Site; Todd Hido, from House Hunting; Nan Goldin, from The Ballad of Sexual Dependency; Christian Patterson, from Sound Effects (clockwise from left to right)


As proposed by John Szarkowski, “for the photographer who demanded formal rigor from his pictures, color was an enormous complication of a problem already cruelly difficult…after a period of frustrating experimentation, decided that since black and white had been good enough for David Octavius Hill, Brady and Stieglitz, it was good enough for them.”  Over the last three decades or so, art has become increasingly photographic, particularly with the use of color materials.  Previously, the self-conscious art photography had focused on the mechanism of the camera to the photographer’s own ‘poetics of seeing,’ and the formal qualities of aesthetics with the use of monochromatic materials.

In 1976, the William Eggleston exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York marked the first occasion for the museum to display color photographs as an art. Seventy-five images were selected from a group of 375 taken around Eggleston’s home in Memphis. While his work shared with conceptual art a focus on the everyday, Eggleston’s images showed an affection for image-making that was out of step with both the critical climate of the time and the traditions of monochrome art photography. While utilizing the popular culture strategies of commonplace everyday experience and the domestic that one would be familiar with in the family album, Eggleston’s photographs proposed a ‘fiction’ of experience. These were pictures that one might see in any family album, but rather, he had taken this private experience and made it public. Some of William Eggleston’s most important photographic books include William Eggleston’s Guide and Los Alamos.

During this time other photographers explored the vernacular scene, including Stephen Shore (American Surfaces and Uncommon Places), who at the age of 14 had already sold some of his color prints to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Like Eggleston, Shore was also interested in the American vernacular scene, but exploring a public space as opposed to Eggleston’s seemingly private experience. Initially utilizing a point and shoot camera and then an 8 x 10 camera with color negative film, Shore traveled across the United States photographing urban and rural moments, shopping malls, places where he stayed and ate as well as people he would meet along the way.

In considering color, “not as a separate issue to be solved in isolation,” it might be suggested you develop your visual vocabulary with a “more natural and ambitious spirit where blue and the sky are one thing.”  Consider color not only as a means of description that further contributes and articulates photographic meaning, but also how light, and more specifically, the color of light suggests psychological and emotive possibilities.

As a jumping off point for considering the vernacular scene, take a look at the presentation Starburst – The New Color Photography.



Shoot digital color photographic images to reveal your interpretation of the vernacular scene and where you live.  In contemplating and experiencing the vernacular scene and where you live, such conceptual possibilities could include the vernacular private experience as if we’re secretly looking at a visual diary of one’s private revelations, the public vernacular of the everyday experience and/or within the metaphorical context of a conceptual space and place where you live to photograph.

Give particular attention to utilizing the camera and an understanding of the following:

  • Color as Description
  • Color of Light



For the critique (see Calendar for Due Date) and evaluation, please complete the following:

Review contact sheets reflecting your interpretation of each of the following lighting conditions.  Minimum of 2 contact sheets (6 images on each contact) of each of the three lighting circumstances:

  • Daylight | Natural Lighting
  • Incandescent | Tungsten | Fluorescent Lighting
  • Mixed Lighting | Combination of Daylight, Incandescent, Tungsten, and/or Fluorescent Lighting | Night Lighting | Flash

Print a minimum of 2 – optimized digital color photographic prints from each contact sheet made in the Grossmont College Analog | Digital Photography Lab.

Turn-in all critique materials in a manila envelope for evaluation and feedback.



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