Advice for the New Semester

School is the perfect situation in which to take chances: you won’t go to jail, you won’t go to hell, and you won’t get beat up for trying and not succeeding. You have people around you who care, who are interested, and are there to help.

Don’t think of this class as one which educates your mind; rather, it will sophisticate you, which is different. Sophistication is knowledge that’s acquired in the course of having a purpose. You know why you want the information at the moment that you put your hand on it. You’re not just storing it up for a rainy day. Aspects of sophistication: love and style, spirituality and street smarts. Street smarts? Shrewdness and toughness? To protect something soft that is going to be in danger if it’s exposed at the wrong time and place. To protect a soul. You’re learning about the course of art, the course of society, the course of the world, the course of your life.

Set up a personal timetable for the semester and understand it. Break the term into days, weeks, months. You’ll be surprised how little time there is to shoot. Do it at the earliest opportunity you can make for yourself.

Don’t put off working on projects late in the day or at night that demand a lot of creative thinking. Attack problems and creative thinking when you are fresh and rested. At the beginning of each day organize your thoughts; write them down, if that helps.

Always try to understand that you are your own best enemy. Be nice to yourself when you are tackling the unknown. Realize that you are going to fail a lot before you succeed. Allow time for this to happen. Creative work is not mechanical. It deals with your subconscious, your view of yourself and your emotions. If you’re at odds with your friends or family and you are depressed, don’t do creative work. Do mechanical, non-reasoning, unemotional work such as cleaning up or organizing. Don’t try to do more than is possible in the time you have available to you.


Everyone needs to get out more.

Photographs are made in the light.

Making new negatives releases endorphins.

Where you stand and where you put the edges makes clear your intention. The center takes care of itself.

The earlier in the photographic process one takes care of details, the easier everything is.


“If you suffer any sense of confusion in life, the best thing you can do is make little forms.” -Robert Frost

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”  -Charles Mingus