Jim Nachtwey directed study, 2009

After successfully passing my midpoint review at the Academy of Art University, I was faced with an exciting challenge of finding different photographers to work with as my mentors. The directed study portion of my study would present me with the opportunity to find and work with different photographers for 15-week periods, the equivalent of a full semester. I knew there were two photographers already at the top of my list, Ed Kashi and Jim Nachtwey. My attempt to contact them both to propose my idea for the mentorship would prove successful with Ed. Jim was much harder to reach. After completing a semester with Ed kashi, needing to fulfill another directed study requirement, I pursued Jim again. I had to make this happen. After many emails, I decided to ask Will Mosgrove at the Academy of Art for help. Maybe he could help in my efforts. It was worth a shot. Will mentioned that he had shared a cab ride with Jim after a presentation he gave to one of the academy’s graduating classes. Jim voiced an interest in mentoring an academy student at some point. This was my chance. We both sent emails again to Jim. As you can imagine this made me very anxious waiting to see if we would here from him. Two long weeks go by and we receive a response. Jim is intrigued by the idea and would be willing to give it a go. Next thing I know I am sharing a conversation with Jim by phone to make arrangements. The next 15 weeks would prove to be a very interesting learning experience compared to no other.

Excerpt from by journal regarding this proof sheet:
Frame 4633: Jim felt was my strongest of the group. It is a well composed photo that not only captures a powerful moment but is also a very good image. This is what I need to be striving for—capturing powerful moments that are also well composed, resolved images. Look through the rest of the images it was Jim’s opinion that that all of the photos were powerful moments but compositionally weak, sloppy.
Frame 4746: was strong, though, you could see the visual effects of using a wide angle lens, distortion on the edges, which jim says, ruins the visual effect of someone actually being there. I definitely agreed with that. His advice, when using the 16-35 was to limit the range to 24-28mm. He went on to tell me that this lens should only be used to clean up a scene. As we moved through the rest of the images, there were many he felt that needed to be cropped in our out to maximize the elements and tap into the image’s internal logic. But he warned me, “I don’t want you cropping these. Forget about these. I want you to reshoot them all.”
Frame 4752: is a powerful image in all aspects but could have been cropped in camera much tighter to really take advantage of the moment, making it even more intimate. Same thing with Frame 5.
Frame 5534: is a good example of a horizontal that really should have been a vertical. Jim said that I really should included the hand and cropped out the leg

So with that I will be posting all of my proof sheets, and journal entries from the 15 weeks in hi-resolution bound by a creative commons “Attribution-Noncommercial copyright.” Feel free to share, blog, these pages. If you do so please give me the appropriate credit: “courtesy: andre J. Hermann” Thanks.

First proof sheet of images from my directed study with Jim Nachtwey. This sheet was all images produced from previous semesters. Jim asked whether I had any emotionally powerful images that shows the viewer why Garrett suffers as he does. I collected these as examples.

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