Week 15: Fall Semester 2009 Wrap Up

Apologies for not updating much this past week. I was busy with the final week of classes. I’m shocked at how quickly the first semester flew by.

So…reflections on the semester?

I appreciate having a weekend. A little imposed structure is nice, particularly after the nebulous lifestyle of a freelance photographer.

I don’t agree with a lot of what I was taught this semester. BUT, I also think that is to be expected. The point is to be better-educated so that whatever my photographic convictions are, they will be well informed.

Being a part of a creative community is really important to me. The weekly critiques and ongoing dialogue with other curious artists is great.

This blog has been a great help in clarifying my thoughts. I don’t remember 75% of what I learned as an undergraduate so I’m grateful I’ll have my posts to look back at in years to come.

This blog has been a lot of work to maintain, but this one email I received has made it all worthwhile:

Dear James
Hope you are good. I just want to thank you for your weblog, I’m a big fan of your weblog and it just came in a very right time for me im learning a lot from it. As you know iran is going to a tough time and specially for photographers but even before that i was thinking i have to try new ways of photography (Fine Art) Please keep up the good work and know that i’ll be reading you

Quite a few emails I’ve received lately have asked whether or not an MFA is worth it. Back in August, I had doubts about going back to school. Those doubts are gone. The decision to get an MFA was one of the best I’ve made in a long, long time. But, just because the decision was right for me doesn’t mean it will be right for someone else. I still think the best time to return to school is when you’ve come to an obstacle in your development that you can’t overcome on your own. While I’m sure lots of people will disagree with me, I also still think it’s a bad idea to go straight from an undergraduate program straight into grad school (unless you want to teach, but then you’ll still need some real world experience).

What’s ahead??

School starts up again on January 11th. I’m going to be out of the country for most of the time until then. I’ll be without a computer until December 28th, but I will have email access.

If there’s anything you would like to see more of on here next semester, please let me know. I would really like this site to be as beneficial as possible.

Highlights from the past four months:


Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life

Walter Benjamin, “The Work Of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Roland Barthes’ “The Photographic Message

“Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism and Consumer Society

Martha Rosler’s essay “In, Around and Afterthoughts (On Documentary Photography)

Jean-François Lyotard, “Answering the Question:  What is Postmodernism


African photography

Photo communities


Happy holidays!!! I’ll be updating a few times over the next week, but I’ll be back at full speed in the  New Year.

take care


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4 Responses to Week 15: Fall Semester 2009 Wrap Up

  1. Jena Duncan says:

    oops typos. *posts, *readings

  2. Jena Duncan says:

    Wanted to thank you for your post, its really interested to learn about what a mfa program is like. its really interesting that most of the readers you are doing are ones that i have or am reading around the same time in my classes as a senior in bfa program at the art institute of boston. i’ll look forward seeing more next semester and would be interested to hear more about the crits.

  3. Thanks for the kind words Florian.
    Happy holidays to you too.

    PS My friends call me James.

  4. fr. says:


    many thanks for this wonderful blog. I think it really fills a gap. I was and will be a regular reader here. Many thanks for the Link to Barthe’s Message o.p. text, coincidentally i stumbled upon a quote of it 2 days ago and decided i had to get it. Got it now! Have a good time in your holidays, and a happy new year, best, fr.

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