MIT OCW Documentary Photography Class — Photography Assignment 1 — Results

[Edit 24 Nov. 2014: I thought I was being clever and put the reasons for my choices in the “title” attributes of the images. TIL there is no “hover” (onmouseover event) equivalent on touch devices. I really need to bring my coding skills into the 21st century. Reasons are appended waaay down at the end.]

Space Ship
“This photo project was originally conceived by Charles Harbutt for use in his workshops. I have made some modifications in it.

This assignment is intended to test your imagination, and your ability to capture your ideas as images.

Assume for a moment that you are going to be leaving earth on a spaceship, never to return. There will not be any form of entertainment or decoration on the ship. You will not have any mirrors, films, works of art, etc. You will be eating processed food and drinking filtered urine. You may, however, bring 10 photographs with you.

In a 24 hours period, without consulting any of your classmates, make 10 photographic images that will sustain you on your voyage. We are not looking for great art; we are looking for personally meaningful images. Do you want pictures of your dog? Your mother? Or the manhole cover outside your apartment? It’s up to you.”



This was a tough assignment. If you really think about the context — you’ll never see the things, people, and places you love again — editing down to ten images is heartbreaking. That doesn’t even take into account all of the things you wish you could photograph but there just isn’t time.

1.  My last dinner on Earth.

1. My last dinner on Earth.

2.  My sweetie at dinner.

2. My sweetie at dinner.

3.  We had dinner and drinks and she fell asleep without touching her wine.  Jem is looking out for her.

3. We had dinner and drinks and she fell asleep without touching her wine. Jem is looking out for her.

4.  Zoe in M's bathroom.

4. Zoe in M’s bathroom.

5.  M and the boys sleeping in.

5. M and the boys sleeping in.

6.  Vine-ripened tomato.

6. Vine-ripened tomato.

7.  Home and what little green can be found in late November.

7. Home and what little green can be found in late November.

8.  Zoe loves her catnip cigar.

8. Zoe loves her catnip cigar.

9.  M at breakfast.

9. M at breakfast.

10.  Desert, mountains, and sky.  Everything I love about New Mexico.

10. Desert, mountains, and sky. Everything I love about New Mexico.

Course link

I’ll come back and add some text (or maybe a new post) with my reasons for choosing these photos out of the 281 I shot over the course of 24 hours, from noon 22 Nov. 2014 to noon 23 Nov. 2014. Photographers get all the glory when they get the shot that tells the story but editors have a bitch of a job.



Added 24 Nov. 2014.

1. This one is about textures and smells. The crunch of the peppers and the pungent smell of the cheese and garlic. A salad in the background and ice water with lemon that isn’t filtered urine.
2. The love of my life happy and being goofy.
3. A lot of reasons: Our home, the floor we busted our butts installing, some wine, my sleeping beauty, and Jem. I wanted at least one picture of each of the cats.
4. My other sweetie, Zoe. I can see the beautiful way M has decorated and the edge of the robe she wears while she gets ready.
5. Our bed and the gatbros behaving. They’re pretty glommy and protective of her. Goober in the foreground. I wish I had a better photo of Goob but I only get ten.
6. Nothing reminds me more of fertility and growing things than the smell of a fresh tomato. And more water that wasn’t urine.
7. It’s not art but one of the fruit trees still has leaves. Behind the dog pen is almost an acre of arable land.
8. She’s softer than a rabbit, no front claws so she uses her paws like hands, and her pads are little pink pouches of wonderful.
9. Just beautiful with her messy hair and comfy PJs.
10. The mountains getting snow in the background are the Sangre De Cristos above Santa Fe where I grew up. The foreground is La Mesilla where I live now. Snow and sunshine, blue sky and clouds. Home.