I had been involved with many academic institutions in my home town and around it and in many discussion forums relating to photography. Most of the times everyone wants to learn basic procedures. The question which is asked very commonly by people around having a DSLR is that which lens should I buy in this given budget. Though I appreciate the curiosity but I do believe that there should be an equal emphasis on creating new content. This might appear very naive to most of the readers here that isn’t every new photograph a new visual content. I believe if I just search ‘Sunset’ on Google Images, I shall be bombarded with millions of photographs and graphics of the same. So should you be doing the same thing again? I believe that we should be able to visualize new thing and then try to make them happen in our photographs.
As a teacher, when I got an invitation from the NIIFT(Mohali, Punjab) this time to conduct a Photography Module, I was very keen that I should motivate my students to create new visuals. So after going through the initial rounds of demonstrating the camera functions and various aspects of controlling exposure, depth, and color temperature etc, I asked them to visualize various themes. The Project finally created was given the title ‘Wonderland’.
‘Wonderland’ is a curatorial project where students of Textile Design, NIIFT- Mohali were given a task to explore human emotions as visuals which they could associate with themselves. Students visualized imaginary conditions in which they were a part of the image formed in their minds. Now these visuals dominantly fell in of two different categories, i.e. positive and negative emotions. Some of them explored latent areas where these emotions could exist or get any possible thrust e.g. conversation, dream, energy and earth.
The backgrounds were specially created by students working in groups dedicated to execute their chosen theme for expressing the respective emotion. There was an equal emphasis on the expression of the boy or the girl who was nominated by each group to represent them and their emotion. The clothing was then chosen, the faces were painted and embellished with self-made ornamentation to bring out the character of the chosen theme.
The dominant emotions which one undergoes through multiple times in a day or for any specific length of time is the one which triggers multiple thoughts keeps one’s conscious mind forming visuals around the same in an unrealistic manner. The students of first year just after learning basics of making a photograph and using their camera were asked to visualize the above said emotions and respective themes. The joint exercise gave birth to these visuals which was a representations of several thoughts, aspirations of the young minds and how they pictured themselves in imaginary yet real world…
The first things students want in a photography class is fun, which in this case was slightly missed as they felt that number of photographs created were less than what they envisioned before the course. While concluding the course when they revisited the starting point, it was apparent to these kids that photography was also about giving birth to these visuals which did not exist before and this understanding was well established in the whole class of approximately 55 students. Having explored this latent part of teaching photography in such an institution, I could see the ability and the spectrum of articulations of these students with which they created all these visuals. Given the chance for teaching photography again, I would love to conduct a more open ended course and see how the creative instincts of students unfold.