Monday, May 23, 2011

Inner Vision: Pictures of the Day - Round the Block

Jennifer Kay is a Miami-based reporter for The Associated Press who has enrolled in Iris' IPC Visual Lab. Before moving to Miami in 2005, Kay was an editorial assistant in the AP’s Philadelphia bureau, and previously graduated in 2001 from Dartmouth College, where she was the photography editor of the daily student newspaper. Kay is looking to expand her knowledge of the visual language and to engage in the process of visual story-telling. Her blog will be a common feature for the next several month on the Iris PhotoCollective's Iris Rising series.

"Take a walk around the block," Carl says. The light is perfect, there is so much to see. All there is to do is look, and that's harder than it might seem with Carl looking over your shoulder.

We're looking for light, color, lines, reflections, architecture, abstraction and portraits. An art teacher's shadow lines up under the shadow of a palm tree against a wall, the negative to the positive of her profile in the light. The blue sky becomes a neutral background for the shapes and colors of the Caribbean Market, and the building itself becomes a canvas for reflections and shadows.

Two kids, one big, one small, slouch against a blue wall in the shade. We stop to make portraits, and each frame is like a new conversation, revealing something different as the big kid's eyes shift from right to left.

Carl has his way of walking around the block, working his way into the scene. It's different from my way. I do this all the time with a notebook in my hand, not a camera, and it's a different conversation. My next assignment is to repeat this kind of walk around a different block. I'm going to have to learn not just to see compositions faster but also to talk my way into those scenes, when usually I just have to listen.

Rediscovering a familiar block is a process. The lessons learned from this exercise were: balance in the frame, juxtaposing elements, conveying a sense of place and time with the characters and objects available, and composing thoughtfully.

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