A sense of place.
Today's post is the third and final installment on the University of Chicago photography workshop I ran in May. Two earlierposts covered the basics of what I produced and what I tried to teach the 12 students I had with me. Today's entry is all about what those fellow photographers produced!
You all are in for a treat today because these images are so cool! There are some of my workshoppers who are far too modest and told me that they weren't going to submit anything for the contest because they wanted to go back and perfect what they had produced - great attitude, but far too humble (you know who you are - I've seen the shots on Flickr!)!
I always run an informal photography
contest at my workshops - I ask the participants to send me their best two images from the day and then I look over them all and put myself through the task of deciding which folks to award. As you might imagine, these workshops attract seriously talented folks and I usually take my time in deciding because it really is tough.
This workshop's entries have been the hardest so far to judge between (you might have suspected as much if you looked at the calendar and realized it's been over four weeks since the actual workshop)! In the end, I asked myself, "Who's images most capture the ideals of the workshop and the sense of place inherent to the University of Chicago?" The answer for me was as follows:
Winner #1: Chris Smith
Chris actually stopped me while he was composing the second of these two images and asked me what I would do differently. I told him what I would change and he gave it a shot: so, you might say, "Of course you're going to like his image," and that might be true. But it is the first entry in his submission that really caught my eye. The skillful use of placing the door off-center to let the ceiling give structure to the top of the frame in the first image shows he was paying attention and nailed the compositional ideas I was preaching.
All that, by itself, wouldn't have been enough to answer the question I posed in the beginning of this post. What made his entries stand out was the intangible element of both frames that made me feel as if I was there. Great photographs connect people back to their own emotions by showing them something beautiful or familiar. Chris's photos (and our second winner, below) did that in a very special way for me. To see more of Chris's work head over to his website Out of Chicago.
Winner #2: Ryan Bosco
Ryan has the enviable position of being an employee of the University of Chicago. As such, he has ample opportunity to stroll the quads and hone his skills making images of The City Gray. Ryan also has gives himself another advantage in standing out from the crowd: he shoots film. Black and white film, if you can believe it! The stones and facades of the University are home to me in a very special way, but they are also quite old, and are home to many others who have gone before. Ryan's images are not only technically stunning (especially when one considers he had to shoot hand-held when his tripod broke mid-workshop), but they also have the magical property of looking as though they could have been taken in 2012 or 1912.
We had talked during the workshop about giving the audience somewhere to go in the photograph. Ryan took that advice to heart and gave us two absolutely beautiful footpaths to take through the frame. The first is my favorite of his - in fact, I suspect it is his too: Ryan came up to me during the workshop, right after he had taken this image to tell me about this little architectural gem of a gate he had found at the corner of the Chicago Theological Seminary courtyard. He used it to great effect: here I am, strolling through the frame, over the stones and into the cloisters - I am transported!
Please head over to Ryan's Flickr page to see more of his work.
More gorgeous images
Before I sign off, I have to share with you the stunning work that my other participants produced. As you'll see in the work shared below as well as through the links to more of their work, the talent pool was seriously deep. First is Matty Wolin's work: check out Shutter Runner for more. Matt is a long time photographic buddy of mine and, not only did he produce some great images at this workshop - he's a former photography contest winner!
Next we have Pamela Paun's work - connect with her and see more of her work on Facebook. Pamela was a very engaged student, taking full advantage of the workshop and asking awesome questions throughout.
Beyond Ryan and Adam (who is busy doing an awesome internship in China), I had three more University of Chicago alumni and students with me for this workshop. Alan Friedman is a Ph.D. from UChicago who has gorgeous images from all over the country.
And last but not least, we have Darren Leow, who just graduated from the University of Chicago this past month and is headed to do more photography and more academics at the prestigious London School of Economics (and I can tell by his photographs on Facebook that he is already busy living it up this summer in far-off locales).