Roughly one hundred sixty eight hours ago, I was loading my last few bags into my car and driving north on i-90 to Missoula, Montana. Missoula -- which bears the nickname ZooTown but I can't yet determine if that carries a positive or negative connotation -- is Montana's second largest city; it resides in the north-west part of the state near the Bitteroot Mountains and the border of Idaho; it acts as the setting for Norman Maclean's novel A River Runs Through It (there is in fact a river that runs through it); and it is my home for the next eight months as I attend the Rocky Mountain School of Photography (RMSP).
I have finished the first week of RMSP's Professional Intensive course with my 23 classmates who all have hopes of establishing ourselves as professional photographers, and it's been packed with more information that I've learned on my own in probably a year. Four hours of afternoon lecture were dedicated to the nuances of photo export settings alone -- who knew!? We've started from the ground up in learning our cameras (finally getting to figure out all the menus and button I've never touched), and even learned a brief history of the art of photography. Any guesses as to when the real origins of photography began (not necessarily the first photograph taken)?? The 17th century, when artists would use a hole in the wall to cast an image on a flat surface and paint its likeness. That process of using light to transfer an image for replication ultimately lead to the first official photograph being taken in 1826 by Joseph Niepce. We've also begun to dig into the incredibly complex discussion of photo ethics and privacy laws which lead to our first assignment of printing out a model release form, finding someone to photograph, and having them give written consent to have that photo published.
A goal throughout this program is to make a concerted effort to bring back more writing into my work. It's not the first time this effort has been made but it is the first time I've established that goal while being back in an academic mindset; I have high hopes that this time it will stick. I'm doing this in part to begin re-training a very weakened muscle, but also to give myself something to look back on. To be able to take a moment in May and see the documented changes and (hopefully!) progress in my work. A memory of learning the math skill of functions for the first time popped to mind that I believe is somewhat analogous to the experience of the next eight months. My dad explained it to me as a function machine by drawing a little z-shaped diagram. Something goes into the function machine on one side, he explained, undergoes a function, and comes out as a new product on the other side. This school is a function of exposure and practice. AsIWandered Photography and all my experiences of the past three years is going in on one side, and through a vast amount of exposure and practice will come out improved and headed in a direction on the other.
Here's a few photos from the first week!