In Depth Look at “Photography: Inspiration & Vision” with Tsuyoshi Ito
— Who do you see as the ideal student for this class?
Tsuyoshi: It has to be someone who wants to grow as a photographer in a fundamental way. This is the most critical.
Also, students already have to have a good technical foundation, as this class will not cover that. They should be comfortable with their own camera and have some level of post-production or darkroom experience.
— What advantages/disadvantages are there to taking a 6-month class that meets once per month, as opposed to, say, a 6-week class meeting every week?
TI: To me the challenge is to figure out how people learn, and figure out how can we provide the tools or environment in which students can learn most effectively. These are questions that I am always trying to solve. But at the same time, they remain a mystery to me.
It comes down to the fact that there is no one right way to learn things. Some people get it very quickly, while others get it later on, long after the class has ended. These ways are all good, and they are all different.
So, spending six months together, which is a decent amount of time, helps us to be inclusive of everyone’s learning style. I think this is possible because there is ample time to reflect upon what happens in class. That is the key, I think.
— What exactly do you mean by “photographic vision,” and why is this important?
TI: To me, photography, as a part of visual art, speaks a certain kind of language. Different from painting or video, for instance. If you compare the experience of seeing different mediums side-by-side, the differences become more apparent.
If you are into photography, that is something that you have to be aware of, whether you utilize it or not. So, in this class we will try to learn the “subtleties of the language,” so to speak. Or, what photography can envision. Thus, “photographic vision.”
— What kind of progress can a student expect to make by taking this class?
TI: I hope that after taking this class, students will be much more aware of the decisions they are making and, equally importantly, not making. So the whole process of creating and selecting images becomes much more intentional.
This is a huge progression in learning that people do not seem to emphasize. To me, photography cannot be reduced to tricks or technical gadgets. I guess these days, people don’t want to talk about something that takes such a long time to understand.
— What kind of assignments will be given?
TI: In order to be aware of the decisions you are not making, you need to be constrained. So, with these assignments, you are free to photograph anything you like, but within some sort of constraints.
— How much time will students be expected to put in outside of class?
TI: There is no set amount, of course. We have ample time between each in-class meeting. So, you can work on assignments at your own pace. First, these assignments will be challenging enough to make you go really slow. That is what they are supposed to do.
Having said that, this is a kind of class where you do not get a grade. So, I always think the more you put in, the more you get out of it.
— How will the class offer inspiration?
TI: I am preparing several components that will generate discussion about photography at large, from guest photographers to reading materials/videos. I hope they will be inspiring to students in the class.