Sunday, September 30, 2012

Maggie Taylor: A Photoshop Master

Adobe Photoshop Master Class: Maggie Taylor's Landscape of Dreams

Seems like I'm catching up on making sure I share all my favorite books. I have done a Maggie Taylor project for several years with my Photo II and my Computer Graphics I students. Taylor is magnificent and she is an official Adobe Master.  She's married to the great photographer Jerry Uelsmann who creates amazing surreal photography in the traditional darkroom, but she has fully embraced Photoshop as her darkroom. Her work is intriguing. She does not tell concrete stories, but has snippets of connections to memories, leaving you wondering what the story could be.

The way I approach this project is that I ask my students to remember, or ask a family member to tell them, a family story. We discuss how family stories morph over the years and how surreal they almost seem. The students must then collect images that will help tell the story and use blending modes, tinting, and brushwork like Taylor does to pull it all together.  The results that I've had have been beautiful, and some of them very moving. Last year a student's image had two men in a boat on a humongous wave, with beautiful Photoshop brushwork creating a dark and stormy, frightening scene. I don't ask about the story until the end, and we all were aghast when she explained that her father and uncle failed 3 times to escape North Vietnam in a small row boat. Each time they were caught and imprisoned. The fourth time they succeeded, and she and her siblings were born here in the US.

My lesson plan for this project is now available on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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