a LEGO black winged angle riding a black skeleton horse wields a large and deadly battle axe

Photo Challenge: Nostalgia

Our new photo challenge from the Photographer’s Playbook concerns nostalgia.

“As an assignment, create a photographic work that consciously wrestles with the concept of ‘nostalgia’ and photography’s unique relationship to it. The work can be made in any photographic form (although Cotton’s essay focuses on the black-and-white print, it is important to recognize that all forms of photography – color, digital, photograms, camera phones, screen grabs, found photography, collage, projection, and so on – are equally capable of nostalgic power.)

Because of the nature of the assignment’s focus, your imagery might explore notions of the past – immediate or ancient – whether it be photographic, cultural, personal, political, environmental, scientific, or otherwise. But be careful to avoid overt irony, over-sentimentalization, or ‘retro’ pastiche. Genuinely engage with this curious and oddly powerful human emotion through the photographic image.” – Aaron Schuman pg #309

Sometimes I think the Photographer’s Playbook acts as the artistic version of the Ouija Board. Every time I open the book looking for a new assignment, or I’m given one by Kristina, it feels exactly like the answer to the question I didn’t know I had. This one on nostalgia is no different. I’ve been thinking a lot about nostalgia, our childhood toys,  how we relate to them and the stories they continue to tell. This assignment plays right into my current thought process.

My immediate response to this challenge is to create a back and white image or use a cheap lens to create a dreamy quality, but I think I should push myself beyond these obvious (for me) sleights of hand and dig a little deeper. I will leave it up to you to decide what is your best course of action. But since we’re all toy photographers I think this latest assignment has a lot of potential. Since our subject matter comes pre-loaded with a hefty helping of nostalgia already, it will be interesting to see how we each come up with a solution.

I’ve been impressed by the past work created by my fellow participants in this challenge series. I’ve seen a change in my own work as well as in the work produced by the other active participants. I love what Stephen Shore writes on page #317 of The Photographers Playbook about intentionality:

“When I first began teaching, I noticed that the students who most closely adhered to my assignments improved the fastest. I thought I had some kind of special insight and gave uniquely apt assignments. I then realized that what led to the growth was not the nature of the assignments, but the fact that the more rigorously they followed the assignments, the more that approached their photography with intentionality. It was working with intentionality that led to their growth.”

For all my fellow travelers on this road of intentionality – I salute you! I look forward to seeing what you create for this latest photographic challenge.

~ xxSJC

If you’re participating in this series I encourage you to tag your completed photos with the hashtag #SIPChallenge.


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8 years ago

Arrrrg the new challenge is here and I still have to take the photos for the previous one.

When I read the title I thought “if it’s just making a photo look nostalgic it’s going to be super easy: many of my photos already make me feel nostalgic”. Still because I have dozens of photo ideas I think it will be very challenging to choose the most appropriate one.

I just can’t wait to start working on these two challenges, play with toys and take photos (I haven’t touched my camera for almost 3 week!)

James Garcia
8 years ago

Oooh, interesting challenge! My mind too went straight to black-and-white when I read the word “nostalgia.” I’ll now have to decide if I succumb to that first instinct, or think a bit farther outside the box!

I also love that Lego comes with a bit of built-in nostalgia; I’m already racking my brain for ways I could play off of that… Thanks Shelly!

James Garcia
8 years ago
Reply to  Shelly

I definitely will! An idea hit me this morning, now I just need to see if I can pull it off! I’m really excited to see what everyone else comes up with.

8 years ago

Wow, beautiful blog!
Congrats to all the developers!

And great post, xxSJC!
Is there a term to entry for this challenge?

I’m very curious to see the results of the photographers and what do you think about their works. :)

8 years ago

Very interesting blog! I love it.

I’ll try to do something which represents my concept of “nostalgia” related with my LEGO kid’s moments.
There are a few ideas in my mind.

I can’t wait to see your result. :-)

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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