Composition beyond writing

This fall, I will begin to pursue a B.F.A. in Photography. The opportunity to take start this program follows from the tuition benefit I enjoy at Wayne State University. But, it is also something that I’ve always wanted to do (I took a photography class in high school; nearly took another class at Michigan State; studied Art History before transitioning to English). Yet, I have done little to formally develop the interest over the last twenty years. More recently, when I bought my first iPhone, I found the device provided for me a new readiness potential to take the shots that I would see as I look around. Just carrying the phone with me gave me the regular opportunity to take photographs. Once I opened an instagram account, I slowly started committing myself to making photographs.

#sunset #impression

A photo posted by Clay (@cwalkerj) on Aug 28, 2015 at 5:02pm PDT

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Like writing, photography is a way of thinking and learning about the world. It invites you to make meaning in certain ways that align with its genre conventions and possibilities. Developing the habit of making photographs opens up channels to practice the art of looking at the world – changing my perspective, tracing out the lines running south, diving the field by thirds, etc. However, the start of my B.F.A. career begins not with photography courses, but with two foundational studio courses that focus on drawing (ADR 1050) and two-dimensional composition (ACO 1200). I find myself a bit nervous about taking these courses – I haven’t ever taken art courses like these, and I wonder how I’ll do. Perhaps this feeling is not too dissimilar from what many of my students feel as the enter into their first composition course.

While I am committed to learning the practice of photography (and whatever associated abilities that will come along the way, such as drawing), I also find myself thinking about this as an opportunity to think about composition in a new light. I don’t know what I’ll learn about composition or practice from the perspective of doing art, but I think it will be interesting to see how art functions as a literacy. I must admit that my commitment to this project has come late – just before the term is set to begin. As such, I haven’t fully prepared the academic side of the issue as much as I might have. So, I expect that as the semester unfolds, I will work to write once or twice a week about the art practice I encounter in class while, at the same time, explore issues related to auto-ethnography, and perhaps the theory of composition. Undoubtedly this approach will allow the interests to mutually inform each other as I begin to learn about composing and practice from my new vantage point. Until then, I await the start of the Fall semester, more nervous than any other in recent memory.

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