The park bench. Something we all think nothing of. We take these utilitarian, ornamental objects for granted. We think nothing of them. We may dust the bird crap off, or wipe the rain away before sitting. Otherwise, they are put there for us to use. We use them to rest, sleep, read, kiss, cry, talk. They are an integral part of our life. But how often have you really looked at one?
This is a question I asked my fundamentals Of Photography class. For their final assignment I challenged them to do something that is so simple, yet deceivingly difficult—photograph a park bench. I won’t lie. Photographing a park bench is difficult. It becomes more difficult when you place boundaries around the assignment.
For their final the students were told:
1. They had to photograph a park bench. They had only 36 frames to do it. They could not shoot any more or less than 36.
2. They could not delete frames. They had to think very carefully how they were going to photograph their bench.
3. They had to consider the LIFE formula for visual variety in order to explore various angles.
4. From those 36 images they had to choose 8 images that visually defined the bench.
5. A contact sheet was also required.
I ask them all to go out and explore different parks. Find a bench that caught their attention. It could be their favorite bench. Or even a bench that held a memory. Once they found their bench I wanted them to visually study it through the frame of their camera. Show us a your bench in a new, exciting or different way.
To make the assignment interesting I told them I would do it as well. We reviewed my images as well. When they presented their finals I was delightfully surprised. I saw some really interesting images. Even though it was an extremely challenging assignment they approached it and conquered it. The bench is no easy assignment. Beginners and pros alike often struggle with this deceivingly difficult assignment. One thing’s for sure, if you’re ever feeling in a visual rut or creatively blocked, go out and spend some time photographing a bench.
I would highly suggest you give this a try, even if its just for fun. I’m attaching my series here you to see.