After reading some of the recent posts focusing on the divergent and/or contradictory demands of academic and photographic project objectives, I thought that it would be useful for you all to step back and reconsider things.

Ira Glass. This American Life. A brilliant story teller. An amazing journalist. An inspiration to many. My friend Zoriah reminded me that perhaps the students should hear him talk about creative story telling and how the best of them actually work. He himself has written a post about Ira Glass on his blog.

So I am posting a bunch of his videos for you here so that you are inspired and excited and liberated!

And another where he talks about finding stories

And then of course the discussion wanders over to why failure is inevitable but holds us together is our aesthetic values (this is my favorite video in the sequence.)

And finally, the 2 major mistakes beginners make; to abandon your life and to abandon yourself in your work!

Ajmer is an incredible and rare opportunity to explore and unleash a creative side to you that liberates you from the strict, often well defined requirements of academic work. That is, you have to appreciate that the stories inAjmer allow you to tickle that human, creative, and imaginative side of you that you may typically hold back in your academic writings. That is, be quirky, be unconventional, be daring and be simply inspired. Not to say that all that can’t be applied to academic research and writings, but I think you all understand what I mean.

This is about story telling. It is about creating something that excites, informs and inspires. It is actually more difficult than a written paper because you do not have the luxury of endless references, tangential discussions on background, footnotes and such. It is just a pure, simple, straight forward story.

And it is a fabulous complement to what you are typically used to delivering; the photography reveals the human consequences and responses to the broader, underlying, academic issues you are exploring. Think of it as the hook that compels someone to read your more detailed research. For example, if we are examining Special Economic Zones (SEZ) than the research speak to their origins, goals and reasoning for creation, and also to the resistance of the local communities and why. The photo project then can reveal the human side of this story through one individual and concentrate on their agency, their response and their views. So the two work together!

We are 3 weeks away from entering a new world of people we typically do not meet and definitely do not know. This can be scary, but it is also one of the most exciting things you will do in your life. I promise you that.

Do not approach the photography like an assignment because you will struggle, panic and worse, fail at it. Approach photography as a human being first, who is meeting and trying to understand the lives, experiences and perspectives of other human beings. Hear their stories, and most importantly, hear your own responses to their stories. And it is in these personal responses that you photos and your narrative will begin to offer itself.

I quote Huxley: Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.

And what you do with your experiences with these amazing people you will meet will be based on you as an individual, a human being and then as a photographer using photographs and text to express it.