Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Interdisciplinary Skills Are The Way To Go

Two-minute, Pinhole Camera Exposure
Photography always has been, and always will be an uncertain and continuously changing medium and career choice, but change is not detrimental its value. On the contrary, it is an incredibly valuable and pivotal part of an emerging professional's dynamic packaging of proficiencies, and I'll explain why.

Everything changes over time, but something significant has changed about the idea of change itself; that being its frequency —› see Moore's Law. Several centuries ago people simply didn't experience the magnitude of change that we do in a global, high-technology culture, but rather, they celebrated the idea of how consistent things remained for generations. Need a glaring comparison? Social, political, cultural, and artistic stylization didn't change very much during the stunning 3000-year Ancient Egyptian civilization, yet I'm sure that you've learned of the incredible rate of change happening there recently, let alone what's occurring regionally.

Living in the hyper-accelerated digital paradigm shift of late 20th and early 21st Centuries, very few [if any] artistic or applied science is immune to changing. Take for instance a look at how the Journalism profession has changed so radically over the last decade with the print versions of newspapers, magazines and their respective staff being displaced one by one. If you watch closely you'll notice that change doesn't discourage the individuals who are passionate and dedicated to their craft and livelihood. Instead, change is embraced because it energizes and inspires them to courageously move forward, and that's exactly what makes a career with professional photographic skills so compelling. Integrating photography into a holistic career plan provides a solid technical foundation to complement several other disciplines in digital media arts such as, animation, graphic design, film & video, or web publishing.

In other words, to embrace the culture of hyper change students must build their resume with interdisciplinary skills to remain competitive and marketable for entry-level employment, starting a business, or transferring to another school. What is your "and…" has become the question for emerging professionals to form a response to, and to emphasize the point, some notable film makers made photography a part of their professional repertoire in addition to studying theater [lighting]. Individuals such as Ridley Scott took a measurable period of time in their career to study and critically analyze the formal properties of image making before going into motion pictures. When one's knowledge and functional skills of a third discipline is pursued to further complement a pairing, then the chances for career success are even greater [I'm a teacher, photographer and web designer]. Other potential combinations are animation and video, or graphic design and web publishing.

A comprehensive program of study, like at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, prepares students for real-world, visual problem solving —› see WCC. The Digital Media Arts department offers students the opportunity to build their interdisciplinary resume by means of the electives chosen, starting in the second semester of their degree pursuit. Their facilities prove to be the best available in the State of Michigan, and offers students a huge range of strategies to produce images, via the traditional darkroom, the studio, and digital labs. Student work is held accountable to professional standards found in various sectors of the industry, making the final portfolios of the graduates highly competitive for transfer to a four-year art school, with Junior class status. Ultimately, the program offers students the opportunity to explore a dynamic medium to convey ideas and offer personal interpretations of their world, in addition to offering interdisciplinary electives to increase their marketability and artistic depth.

The photo program course sequence provides technical sequencing and instruction in traditional and digital image capture, software workflow [primarily in Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop], studio lighting for small product and portraiture, business and ethical issues for visual artists, theme-based projects and final portfolio development. The labs are exclusive to the Apple Macintosh platform, the Adobe Creative Suite of software applications, Apple Final Cut Pro, and Maya 3D. A twenty-station traditional darkroom and black-and-white film processing facility are complemented with two, twenty-workstation digital imaging labs, and a six-bay studio that features Profoto lighting equipment, a full complement of tungsten lighting gear, and many more peripherals.

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about where I teach.