Seeing Photographically: An OLLI Course

Seeing Photographically: An OLLI Course

February 10, 2017

Photograph of Milford Sound, New ZealandApplaud the OLLI members who participated in “Can You See What’s in Front of You Photographically” during the 2016 fall session. This course was led by me, Larry Greenbaum, an OLLI member and an aficionado of landscape photography. Through a combination of “teaching” and “doing,” the course is designed to help participants see effective compositions and turn them into strong images that convey a message.

As Ansel Adams said, every photograph includes at least two people—the photographer and the viewer. By presenting their photographs in class, each OLLI participant had opportunities to interpret his/her images and to learn from the positive critiques and perceptions of other classmates, the viewers. 

The photographs displayed here are just a sample of those created by OLLI participants in this course. These images define the difference between snapshots and photographs. Snapshots simply record being in a place or at an event. Well-seen photographs evoke a feeling, mood, and the interpretation of the photographer. Seeing images effectively is an ever-developing skill that requires interest, dedication, and practice. The result is art.

In addition to demonstrating the art of photography, the course also raised profound questions about the relationship between photography and reality.  How real are the images we see? Are the pictures in ads, in the media, or in museums real?  Does Photoshop unfairly mess with reality? Or, do photographers create their own reality by having their images interpret what they see or feel? With these questions in mind, the OLLI photographers strove to define and display their own personal realities through communicating feeling, mood, and design in their photographs.

Color photograph of a mallard duck on a pond.

Speaking from the vantage point of the course leader, I was most impressed with the course participants’ high level of interest, dedication, participation, sharing, and exchange. All photographers, regardless of their level of expertise, continuously strove for improvement. By having different levels of experience represented, class members contributed to teaching each other.

“Seeing Photographically” will be offered again in spring 2017. The course will be extended from six to eight weeks and will include local field trips for taking photographs during class. Any level of photography expertise and experience, from beginning to advanced, is suitable for the course because the principles of visualizing and creating effective images apply to all. Come join us and combine challenge with photographic fun!

The course also raised profound questions about the relationship between photography and reality.