As Good As Your LastSaturday, February 23, 2013
|Lauren Elizabeth Stewart, February 23, 2013|
It was not too long ago, perhaps just two years when I faced a class of contemporary youngish students at a local photography school. Most of the students, with the exception of a few, routinely ate hamburgers, checked their e-mails and worked on their homework assignments for other classes in my class. I had been informed by the school that students were allowed to eat in class because they had busy schedules.
In my past as a high school teacher I had attempted to keep a distance from my students by calling them “Mr….or Miss….” In this 21st century teachers had to be buddies, or at least to make an effort.
Because the school’s steep tuition students were given laptops. All laptops were in open position in class. I had no real authority to tell them to put them away. While lecturing I might walk down the aisles and that is when I noticed how many of my students were onto extracurricular activities on the order of facebook or some other social network.
I have memory of one particular day when one of my students, a very intelligent English one asked me a pointed question in a most brutal manner, “Mr. Hayward can you show us photographs of yours that have appeared in magazines that are still in existence?” My only possible retort, one that I kept silently was, “Most of the photographs of people in magazines that no longer exist are all dead.”
In another school a student, not English, told me, “Mr. Hayward, I have been hired as a summer student at a magazine. It is the magazine that no longer gives you work.”
One of the schools has closed their doors and the other one through a spokesman told me, “We feel that our school and you are not a good fit. Therefore we do not want you back.”
It is after reflection of such moments where logic, this kind of logic, “Either I am crazy or they are crazy,” does not bring relief or comfort.
It is after these moments that one, me, will look into a mirror and think, “Am I still useful?”
The ancient custom, that relationship between the so-called expert (be it an artist or an automobile mechanic) and an apprentice does not seem to apply. I have stuff lodged in my head that I believe is useful. And I believe that this stuff will die with me. I do not loose sleep over this fact.
I keep my sanity and sense of self-worth knowing that after so many years of being a photographer I can tell when I am looking at one. I can also assert, that even if I am unable to escape from being totally objective, I can tell when a picture I take is a good one.
On Tuesday, February 26, I will be lecturing a photography class in a South Burnaby Secondary school. The crux of my lecture will be that a photographer is only as good as his last photograph. Any photographer that is using the epithet “award winning photographer - took pictures for the National Enquirer” is stuck in the past and out to lunch.
You can only be as good as you are now.
So here is my last picture, unless I take a few more before my February 26 date with, I hope, respectful students.
My granddaughter Lauren, 10, came over today Saturday. She is at that stage where she is tired of seeing me grab my large tripod. She knows what is coming. I tell her, “Perhaps some day I will interest you in photography and I could teach you.” Her answer is brutal, “Not a chance.” I try another tack, "I take pleasant photographs of you and I post them immediately in my blog.” She says back, “I take the best pictures of myself. And I use my digital camera. It is quick not like yours.”
But she does consent to pose for me for a few minutes. I know that setting up my lights is out of the question. So I put my Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD and a 140mm lens on the tripod and load the back with Fuji b+w instant FP-3000B film and take a few (three) snaps of her. The best one of the lot seems to be the first one. When I first looked at it, I noticed that one of her cheeks made her look fat. This was so when I turned the photograph from the horizontal position that I took it to a vertical one.
For those who might not know this, pictures should be seen as they were taken. A case in point is to photograph a beautiful blonde, on a divan, with her head bent over the edge. The picture is taken with her face upside down. If you turn it around it will look odd. That’s just the way it is!
And as for the second picture above I would tell that English student. here is picture of mine in a magazine, the March 2013 issue that is still in business.