Intended or not, one of the side effects of the Digital Storytelling class for me has been to focus my thinking on the progression through the years of my relationship to media. For a ds106 assignment I put together a Prezi presentation that started exploring that, and the thought process has continued, enhanced in part by the current two-week-long assignment that has us participating in the dailyshoot.
Among other former jobs (my students are already a bit amused by how many former jobs I’ve had, but that’s part of the pattern in the mass communications industry), I was chief photographer for a small daily newspaper (photography was a big part of the job at earlier papers as well, and I also made part of my living doing darkroom work and owned an early one-hour photo-processing business). Photography was one of my early hobbies, begun in 8th grade when Mr. Culp, the yearbook sponsor, stuck his head out his classroom, spotted me in the hallway, and said, “You! Would you like to be the photographer for the yearbook?”
That chance encounter drove several years of my life, and ultimately explained why I have very few pictures of my children, sadly.
I’ve had this pattern of getting into something as a hobby, enjoying it greatly, getting passionate about it, and then getting a job doing it. That, by definition, turns it into a job, and as often happens with jobs, after awhile it loses its luster.
After I had spent the day taking pictures, I didn’t want to come home and take more pictures. Plus, I developed (no pun intended) a mindset that said, “If I’m not getting paid for it, I’m not taking pictures.” I really regret that now, but can do nothing about it.
I still have my old news camera, a Nikon FM2, but in an age of digital photography it has become a museum piece, fine though it is. Once I left that industry, I hardly picked up a camera again. The last time I shot much, Tri-X pan was the standard in black-and-white film, and Kodacolor was the default color film (or, maybe, Ektachrome). Digital photography had not even been thought of.
When digital cameras dropped a bit in price, my wife bought one, so thank God we have some photos from our early years, but I never had a digital camera of my own until last year–and I inherited that one when she bought a newer model.
Now here we are with a photography assignment via ds106, and I’m finding it to be…interesting, in the best sense of the word. My digital camera is a good one, although somewhat out of date now, but not on the professional level that the Nikon FM1 was as a film camera. Nevertheless, I have full control over exposure, and can do a lot of the same stuff, plus a lot more. For the most part, I can forget about the mechanics of shooting. I don’t have to bracket exposures since I can see immediately how the shot worked. And the “old” stuff about composition and technique actually holds up well.
This is sort of exciting. There are serious and significant differences between old media and new, and “consumers” of it (I hate that word, but can’t come up with a better one right now–after all, they’re not “readers” or “listeners” or “viewers”), but the principles of good communication seem to survive the transition rather well. Welcome to the old new territory. 🙂
Accordingly, today’s shot involved filling the frame with a single subject. The single subject is not just books, not just writing books, but writing books that bridge the gap. Some of these books have sat on various shelves of mine for 30 years, and some of them are hopelessly out of date, while other hold up surprisingly well. They have filled my shelves, and filled my mind and my life as well.