Posts Tagged ‘Peter Fetterman Gallery’

Students Try Candid Photography at Venice Beach

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Venice Beach offered a plethora of treasures to the young photo students

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Yesterday, the photography class from the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program went on a field trip to Los Angeles. Like their B&W photography, it was a trip of direct contrasts.

They went from the elegant art studios at Bergamot Station to the eclectic outdoor chaos of Venice Beach.

Most of the 11-to-13-year olds in the class had never been to either place. At Bergamot, they were encouraged to visit the galleries dedicated to photography, including the Peter Fetterman Gallery and the Rose Gallery.

There, the students had to do their homework. Each had to select one photograph and critique it.

“There’s a whole laundry list of things we have to look for,” explained Alex, a student from Idyllwild Arts Academy who is also taking this summer photography class. “Basically, they want us to see what works and what doesn’t.”

“Make sure that you ask the gallery if it’s OK to take photographs,” advised Eric Metzler, their photography instructor, who also teaches at Idyllwild Arts during the school year.

Instructor Eric Metzler views Tomoko Sawada's "Reflections" at the Rose Gallery at Bergamot Station

In the Peter Fetterman Gallery, one student was critiquing a photo by Elliott Erwitt, entitled, “Man with Two Dogs.”

The black-and-white photograph featured two large bulldogs with their owner seated on the steps of a Brownstone, possibly in New York.

The artist’s twist was that the second bulldog, sitting on the man’s lap, totally obscured his image. (All you could see was his left ear). In short, it looked like Sci-Fi hybrid of a bulldog’s head with a man’s body.

“I think the artist is trying to say that men are dogs,” said the young female student.

Several other famous photos of Elliott Erwitt’s were on display in the gallery, notably couples kissing.

“They’re definitely staged,” said Jenny Kirchner, one of the van drivers on the trip, who is also an award-winning photojournalist. “That’s OK, they’re still great.”

French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, the master of photojournalism who perfected “street photography,” didn’t stage his photos. He just had a keen sense of when things would appear, his wife said in an article.

Students had the option of photographing the beach also

Likewise, Erwitt’s photos were not staged, argued Margaret, another student.

“They’re ingenius, like the one of the couple kissing in the sideview mirror,” she said. “Most photographers would photograph themselves, but he got out of the way and took one of them.”

After Bergamot, armed with their 35 mm cameras (no digitals allowed), rolled film, tripods and lenses in hand, the group of young photographers then set out to capture Venice Beach. Eric gave them ample time for their “plein air” photography experience, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.. They would leave L.A. just before sunset.

Like Cartier-Bresson, many of the students took pictures of bodybuilders, skateboarders and basketball players. None wanted to “tip” to Spider Man and Elvis for their photos as they walked along Venice’s Boardwalk.

“Bye, Spider Man!” shouted a young girl walking hand-in-hand with her mom. “I know you’re not really Spider Man, but a man in a suit.”

“Aw, you really don’t believe that!” said Spider Man, as he sat rubbing his feet.

Other candid “photo opportunities” on the Venice Boardwalk included: a man with multitude of hats stacked on top of one another; a snake charmer on a ladder holding two green snakes; a man with a cardboard sign offering passersby the opportunity to “Kiss My Ass for $2,” medical marijuana huts; a peripeligic on a skateboard; and young girls in bikinis shopping.

With her digital camera, Jenny took pictures of skateboarders doing tricks. Then, she handed them her card and said that they’d be posted on her web site later on that evening.

“If they like the photograph, then I’ll just charge them a nominal amount for printing,” Jenny said.

In her web site, Jenny has a built-in security device that won’t allow people to steal her images.

In the backdrop, of course, was Venice Beach–with it’s miles of coastline, surfers, swimmers and seagulls.

I found a “No Swimming” area where the surf sprayed over some large rocks. It would happen only occasionally, like a humpback whale coming up and spouting air, but it was a wonderful cascade!

At day's end, a Venice Beach seagull rests for a moment on a parked car

On the way back, some of the students groaned about having to develop their film in the darkroom. Cartier-Bresson despised printing his own prints too.

“I get nervous whenever I go in there,” admitted Margaret. “So I give myself little pep talks, saying, ‘You can do this!'”

Amelia, another student agreed.

“I always manage to get chemicals on my fingertips, so they make smudges on my prints,” she confessed. “I don’t think I’ve ever come up with a ‘perfect print.'”

How did their Venice Beach photos came out?

You can actually view their photos at an exhibit at the end of next week. The details of the students’ one-day exhibit TBA.

For more information on the Black-and-White Photography class or other Summer Programs, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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