Today was a very busy day and slightly different from the others because we had not one, but two speakers on the calendar! We were anticipating great presentations, but what we got was so much more than just a presentation. Our first speaker was Andy Golding, head of Photography and film at the University of Westminster, as well as a proclaimed master of light in photography. His lecture was called “Photographing London” and in his presentation we learned about the history of image making in London and how these images portrayed London throughout history and all the way up to modern day. Of course we were never bored for a moment in his lecture due to his playful personality and engaging qualities. He asked us questions and prompted us to do the same. He shared work done by others that had inspired him in the past and taught us about light placement and technique. In the photo below, Andy was explaining to us how the harshness of the projector light made the shadows in his face darker and deeper which accentuated his wrinkles and caused him to look older. He then compared that to the soft light coming from the screen and onto us and said the light made our faces soft and fabulous.
Halfway through Andy’s presentation, we noticed that the new Chancellor of Regents College was having a photo shoot just outside of our classroom! We watched how it was conducted to get a feel for what a photo shoot was like from the photographer’s perspective. It ended up being a good learning experience. At the end, we all took a picture together holding a Michigan State University flag!
Our second speaker was a wonderful woman from South Africa whose photography focused mostly on innocence in adolescence and identity among all kinds of people in the form of portraiture. Michelle Sank was exceptionally passionate about her work and described her relationship with each of her subjects. People in her portraits would seem so relaxed and confident in states of extreme vulnerability of one’s self. She stressed the importance of a person’s interaction with their background and her conscious efforts to capture the person within their background as a means to further implement who they were in the portraits. She spoke of how clouds add emotion and movement to a portrait and how they have such a great impact on her photography.
“Large skies are like a celebration of life” – Michelle Sank
After her presentation, we truly understood what she meant when she said she was a “social anthropologist…in a way”. Her photos captured the essence of people more vividly than any other portraiture I have seen.