Intro to Visual Technique: Reflection

After reviewing the three sources for this reflection assignment, including “Becoming a Better Photographer,” “What is Visual Literacy?,” and “The Story Behind the Iconic ‘Migrant Mother,’” I found the photographic techniques and overall discussion of taking pictures to be incredibly intriguing. As for “Becoming a Better Photographer,” the tips that stood out to me included paying attention to the moment, changing perspectives, and getting pickier. When I take photos on my phone, I typically have a very planned-out vision of what I want to be in my pictures. I usually have staged the scene and perfected everything that will be seen in the photograph. However, after reading these tips, I think that there could be immense value in paying close attention to what is occurring around me so I can find a unique situation of which I can take a picture. Going forward, I will also prepare for what I think will be happening soon so I can capture a seemingly spontaneous scene. An example of this could be photographing a student opening their college acceptance letter that will dictate if they attend the university in the fall. I can anticipate their emotional responses given the verdict in the letter, which could be sadness displayed on their face if they were rejected, or joy and glee if they were accepted. With these two possible scenarios in my head, I could anticipate how I could get the best angle and representation of the upcoming moment.

As for changing perspectives, I think that taking pictures from an aerial view could provide the viewer with a fresh and distinct viewpoint when looking at my photographs. My dream has always been to learn how to fly an airplane. Therefore, if this dream comes to fruition, I would love to take pictures from thousands of feet in the air for my viewers down below, as it is a view most individuals will most likely never see in real life. I could photograph the ocean, mountains, jungles, or even cities from this aerial perspective to show the breadth of the world from a different point of access. As for getting pickier when taking pictures, a lot of people I know take dozens upon dozens of pictures of one thing to later go through them and choose the ones that perfectly embody the subject of their image, which is most typically themselves, to post on their Instagram. When I was in Hawaii, I noticed this in my sister and mother. After reading the blog post about being a better photographer, I think there could also be value in slowing down and being very particular with each shot, especially in special scenarios, such as when my family and I watched the sun rise above the clouds 7,000 feet above sea level in the very early morning. The sun was rising rather slowly, so I could have taken my time to position myself so the lighting, angle, and perspectives were exactly as I desired to capture what I considered to be the perfect scene. I greatly enjoyed this post about becoming a better photographer, as it enlightened me in how I can improve my novice skills going forward. 

The second source that I reviewed for this reflection called What is Visual Literacy? was very thought-provoking to me as someone who has grown up in the digital age. I found the amount of time that younger individuals consumed media via images daily, being over seven hours, very surprising and interesting. The increase of over an hour also seemed to be rather drastic and sudden, given that this upward trend began within four years of this video’s creation. The hour threshold seemed rather high for me also considering my own life experiences as a young adult. It was also sad to hear that the only type of media that has not increased in the past 10 years was reading, because I personally love reading and find creating images based upon descriptive words using my mind via reading a book or a story to be enthralling and inspiring. I thought that the definition of Visual Literacy, which was “the ability to construct meaning from what we see,” was logical, pragmatic, and aligned with the vast ways that media, such as literary works, paintings, drawings, music, or any other form or artistic expression can be interpreted.

I enjoyed analyzing the patterns, empty spaces, scaling, and various other elements of the painting in the video as well, because I had never considered how detailed and valuable each aspect of art could be in its own right. This video emphasized to me the importance of slowing down and paying attention to the details and differences in not only art, but also real-life scenarios, around me on a daily basis. This should occur whether I am in Toledo and visiting their art museum, or I am walking through the park on a hot summer day. The activity in which we as viewers were asked to spot the difference between two paintings was especially valuable in reinforcing this point to me; while I found a few of the differences, I could not spot all of them, which was unexpected to me, as I thought I had a very keen eye. That being said, I will be taking the helpful advice of the Toledo Museum of Art going forward and also be conscious of the amount of images and media I consume daily as I grow older and eventually raise children of my own who do the same.

The final source for this reflection discussed the journey of Dorothea Lange. The piece was incredibly moving and intriguing to read and view via her photography. I think that providing the details surrounding the situation that led up to her taking the picture of the Pea Picker and her family framed the image as having been predestined, almost like fate. The fact that Dorothea was so discouraged at the end of her almost month-long journey that began in Los Angeles due to the torrential rain sand general bad weather further, yet she still took the time to interact with Florence Owens Thompson, a pea-picking migrant, and her family for the perfect shot, showed me that she was truly dedicated to her craft, rain or shine so to speak. Her ability to capture the true anguish and desire for a better life in the mother’s face and posture was breathtaking to me as a viewer. The snapshot truly portrayed the story of a mother who would do anything to protect and nurture her children. The picture being in black and white even further indicated the tortured nature of the moment that Dorothea was lucky enough to capture in real time.

However, what did shock me was the language she used to describe an elderly African American man that she photographed. At the same time, I do understand that the picture was taken during a time in which words such as these were still deemed acceptable. Dorothea became more redeemable to me later in the article through her humanitarian side when she prompted the government to provide the Pea Pickers with over 20,000 pounds of food; this was because she saw their desperate situation as she was photographing them. This indicated to me she felt deep compassion for others, which helped her find scenarios in which emotions could be conveyed with fierce intensity in her own pictures. I believe that Dorothea Lange is an inspirational photographer who utilized perspective, a need to be picky in choosing her perfect shots, and the ability to pay close attention to her subject to create timeless images and pieces of art.

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