Photography: Where the Thread Leads
Session Three - June 16-22, 2019
To get a good photograph you cannot just go out and take it. Sure, you may like a tree, but before you can have a communion with that tree, you have to wait until it speaks to you. You must have empathy for the tree. To understand its language you have to be receptive, but not in a cognitive sense: you need to put yourself in its place and situation, feel the wind, the light, and the sounds that embrace it. You have to enter its world. To be in a receptive state, you must forget what you should do. You must respond with your whole being - and that’s when it happens: the tree in the picture will speak.
Style is usually imposed from the outside, but vision is unique to everyone and comes from within: from living and feeling and looking around. You also need practice and technique to refine and present the beauty and the power of the moment you have initially seen. And mostly, it’s like finding gold: you have to have patience, desire, and drive. Your individuality is part of everything you do, and who you are is visible in your photographs. When you respond to the world around you and become aware of what draws you, you will be on your way to finding your vision. When you hear the screams and whispers even in the silence around you, you will be able to photograph them.
Please bring 30-50 work prints about 5x7 inches. We’ll start by moving them around by hand on a table, not on the computer. They can be a project or a set of recent photographs that you are working on. Putting pictures next to each other creates new meanings and by sequencing we find visual connections, patterns, and themes that lead to new ideas of how to continue and how best to present them. The object of the class is to find yourself in your pictures and discover your personal vision.
Born in Budapest, Sylvia Plachy left Hungary with her parents as a teenager after the collapse of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. In 1958, after two years in Austria, they immigrated to the United States.
Plachy discovered photography while studying Graphic Arts at Pratt Institute. She had worked at the Village Voice between 1974-2004, both as a photo editor and a staff photographer, and covered New York City culture and politics, national news, and also international events, such as the end of the Nicaraguan Revolution, the dissolution of the Eastern Block, and the aftermath of the Gulf War. Her portraits and photo essays have appeared in Newsweek, Granta, Grand Street, Time, Vogue, the New York Times and many other magazines, and she had a monthly column in Metropolis Magazine, Signs & Relics, which later became a book. Her weekly photo on the contents page of the Village Voice, had also evolved into a book called Unguided Tour and won the Infinity award for best publication in 1990. Her other book about life in Eastern Europe called, Selfportrait with Cows Going Home, won the Golden Light Award.
The recipient of grants and prizes, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1977 and a Lucie Award, Page One Award for Journalism from Columbia University, Plachy was given the 2009 Dr. Erich Salomon Preis for lifetime achievement in photojournalism. She has had many one-woman exhibits around the world, most recently a traveling exhibit, When Will It Be Tomorrow, which opened in Budapest in 2015 and is at the Museo di Roma in Trastevere until September 2, 2018.
With camera in hand, I move faster and feel freer and even dare to give back a smile to a stranger. To stop time, to let it go, to take it with me: I search for something, I don’t know what. It could be anything, anywhere, either right in front of me or far off in the sky - sometimes it’s an echo from the past. It’s a split second and I hold my breath. I don’t know if I choose it or if it chooses me. I know I’ve found my photograph when I can breathe again.
Artist's Website: Sylvia Plachy
- 30-50 5"x7" work prints
- 1-2 finished prints