A Photo Teacher |

Why People Photograph

Posted in PHOT 150, PHOT 151, PHOT 152, PHOT 153, PHOT 156, PHOT 165, PHOT 167, PHOT 256, PHOT 265, PHOT 267 by Paul Turounet on January 23, 2010

© Paul Turounet, U.S. Highway 101, Gilroy, California, 1994


I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.  The photograph isn’t what was photographed, it’s something else. It’s about transformation. And that’s what it is. That hasn’t changed, largely. But it’s not that simple. Let’s put it this way — I photograph what interests me all the time. I live with the pictures to see what that thing looks like photographed. – Garry Winogrand


The world today has been conditioned , overwhelmingly, to visualize.  The picture has almost replaced the word as a means of communication.  Tabloids, educational and documentary films, popular movies, magazines, and television surround us.  It almost seems that the existence of the word is threatened.  The picture is one of the principal mediums of interpretation, and its importance is thus growing ever vaster. – Berenice Abbott


It’s so easy it’s ridiculous. It’s so easy that I can’t even begin – I just don’t know where to start. After all, it’s just looking at things. We all do that. It’s simply a way of recording what you see – point the camera at it, and press a button. How hard is that? And what’s more, in this digital age, its free – doesn’t even cost you the price of film. It’s so simple and basic, it’s ridiculous.

It’s so difficult because it’s everywhere, every place, all the time, even right now. It’s the view of this pen in my hand as I write this, it’s an image of your hands holding this book, Drift your consciousness up and out of this text and see: it’s right there, across the room – there… and there. Then it’s gone. You didn’t photograph it, because you didn’t think it was worth it. And now it’s too late, that moment has evaporated. But another one has arrived, instantly. Now. Because life is flowing through and around us, rushing onwards and onwards, in every direction. – Paul Graham



Shoot images that reflect focused attention on your curiosities and interests with photography.

In thinking about what to photograph, I would propose you gravitate towards what your interests and curiosities are. How would you approach those interests and ideas photographically to reveal what they would look like as a photographs? In addition to their visual engagement, what do you want the photographs to reveal, suggest or evoke, intellectually and/or emotionally, in relationship to these ideas and perceptions? Consider how your use of the camera, photographic aesthetics and materials will be used in making photographs that begin to suggest and inform these curiosities and ideas.

In considering your photographic vision and use of camera aesthetics, give particular attention to your use of the photographic frame, vantage point, moments of exposure and the role and use of light to reveal your interpretation of the thing itself and details.

With this assignment, it is essential that your photographic process reflect a sense of considered thought and active visual exploration.



Depending on the nature of your class, for the critique (see Calendar for Due Date) and evaluation, please complete the following:

Minimum of 2 – digital contact sheets (6 images on each contact) made in the Grossmont College Analog | Digital Photography Labs.

Minimum of 2 – finished photographic prints made in the Grossmont College Analog | Digital Photography Labs.

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



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