December 4, 2015

Undertaking His Own Assignment, A Professor Perseveres in the Face of Failure

I decided to carry out the following assignment that I give to my Digital Photography II class at American International College.

Create a Multiple Image Photo Story:

A. Choose a certain scene or location and make two visits at different times of day to photograph the activities.

B. I suggest that you spend between 45 minutes to 1 hour on each visit to fully document the situation.

C. Take a variety of types of images.  Establishing shot.  Medium shot.  Close up.  Portraits. Small details.  Extreme angles (ant & giraffe).

Saturday Farmers' Market - Greenfield, MA

I climbed atop an electrical box to capture this overview of the Greenfield Farmers' held at the edge of the Town Common.  As I photographed, an older grey haired woman passed by, pushing a cart containing fresh peaches.

"I thought out of the corner of my eye I saw someone climbing up on that thing," she told me.  "I am glad to see that you are actually up there!"

"I am glad I was able to confirm reality for you," I reply.  We both laugh.

Source of the Peaches
Seamus and Ben from Clarkdale Fruit Farms.

The lively and colorful scene offered a plethora of photographic possibilities.

Who is in Charge?

Though the morning sun occasionally dipped behind clouds, there were shadows to work with.  And I challenged myself to shoot beyond the ordinary from a unique variety of angles.


I myself bought some baby bok choy.  Later, I slathered it in olive oil and Adobo and grilled it.

Actual Social Networking
Friends Matt and Kerrita.  She was gearing up for a barbecue.

Basis for a Novel

I returned to the same location late in the afternoon, hoping for golden sunlight and long shadows.   However, I was greeted with clouds and sprinkles.

The bustling market was over and the streets basically deserted.  There was nothing exciting to photograph!

I was grateful to encounter Heather, Liam, Seoul and McEwan, waiting for a shuttle bus to ferry them to the Franklin County Fair.

Family Ties
Photography is all about light.  The overcast grey afternoon and lack of activity stymied me.  How will I show my students that I can overcome a creative roadblock?  A feeling of desperation welled in my gut.  I am going to fail!  Is this terror what my students encounter when trying to complete an assignment?

However, nearby, I noticed a neon sign at Magpie Woodfired Pizza.

Light is Life

Wanting to add life to the sign's neon blue glow, I waited to snap this image, catching a car's brake lights.  Okay, I am making progress.  What other techniques can I employ?

Making Strides

Using the reflective properties of a store window to create some mystery, I framed this setting.  Before clicking the shutter, I waited for human activity to add life and story.  Creativity can be forged from struggle.

Book and Brew
I finally stuck gold at Seymour The Pub, across the Town Common from Farmers' Market site.  So many kinds of lights.  And Anika, reading and relaxing.

Never give up!

Artist, educator and photojournalist John Nordell, Assistant Professor of Communication at American International College in Springfield, Mass., blogs about the creative process at