Self-Portrait, Backyard, Bloomington, Indiana, 1976

Staring at these prophecy cards in the developer, I nicked the soft emulsion on the color paper and started scraping out marks around my eyes. It is sometimes that simple -- a shift that comes by accident. This was shot on color print film, which I liked better than the shiny CIBA chrome paper you had to use with slide film. I had been hired at Indiana University to replace the beloved Professor Henry Holmes Smith and teach his graduate student critique seminar. Henry's philosophy in his critiques was to encourage students to stare at their photographs for as long as it took to talk about them. To manage the challenging students who were used to his style, we created this list of talking points to help open up discussions. I still use them today.

How to Look at Photographs

1.Does the photograph resonate?
2.Does the photograph have structural integrity?
3.Does the photograph give the viewer insight?
4. Is the photograph unique?
5. Does the photograph provide reading instructions?
6. Is the technique supportive of the photograph?
7.Does the photograph give an emotional response?
8. Does the photograph invite continued interaction?
9. Does the photograph invite reflection?
10. Does the photograph have the thumbprint of the photographer?

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