It was in high school that I decided pursuing a career in art wasn’t for me. Throughout my life I always loved drawing: sketching out portraits and coming up with comics. While I excelled in art classes throughout middle school and even at my grade level classes in high school, for some reason I never thought I’d be good enough to succeed into an artistic career. I stopped taking art classes and didn’t even consider applying to universities as an art major. Most days in the year I convince myself that this was the right decision.
In my last year at the University of California, San Diego I took up art once more thinking it would be an easy-A summer session class. However on the first day our professor, Rex Yuasa, monotonously laid out his syllabus and came off as a heavy handed, firm, fine-art sadist. However after days and weeks into the class and I immediately got his sarcasm and work ethic expectations and he won me over as my most favorite professor at UCSD –the only professor throughout my baccalaureate studies that I built a relationship with. Though it was certainly a struggle to keep up with the projects due to my work, his lessons and criticisms took my technical and metaphoric skills to another level. For that I will always be grateful to him.
If I remember correctly, I certainly earned an A in his class and my final project was the best thing I ever created by hand. Though I still nit-pick at the execution of some of the contrasting and shading work, I was elated to have produced such a piece after having shelved my drawing skill for years.
Till this day I contemplate about whether or not it’s too late to break into art, or at minimum, what my strengths are in photography and how to build upon them. Some of the ideas I’ve enjoyed playing with the most since taking Rex’s class are in metaphorical storytelling, something I’m severely lacking in my portfolio.
Diptychs became my favorite metaphorical device because of Rex. Diptychs can be two or three images juxtaposed together to tell stories, most commonly about polar opposite ideas. Rex always pushed us to go beyond cliché, beyond ideas of good and evil, love and hate, peace and war.
My final project in his class was a commentary on the trials and tribulations of the socio-economically less fortunate and how overcoming hardships communally brings forth wisdom in addition to accomplishment.
Though I love music and event photography, I want to take my photojournalistic storytelling to the next level. I want to photograph and sew together an idea that is abstract enough to meet Rex’s expectations but concrete enough for people to relate and form an interpretation from.
For this reason, it is my wish that new photographers remember to slow down and examine their shots in their entirety, even going as far as avoiding taking hundreds of photographs of the same thing “just incase”. It is easy to produce a cool photo, but it’s not always easy to produce a photo that’s interesting to a large audience.