Thursday, October 8, 2009

Weekly Post, October 9th

What I did:  

This week I received great news!  Helen Starman, Director of Alpha House, gave me the go-ahead to have access the shelter.  She said we could set up meetings/get started after Oct. 20, which is great.  She discussed the issue of confidentiality- we don’t want the families to feel as if they have to participate in order to be housed in the shelter.  She said she has worked through these issues before, so she and I can work together to communicate to families that participating is optional.  

I have also reached out to SOS, a shelter in Ypsilanti.  Erica had told me about this shelter a few weeks ago.  I contacted the president of SOS and she said she would love to speak further about the project.  I feel it is important that I reach out to numerous places and make as many connections as possible.

This week I spent 2 hours carefully reading two lengthy PDF’s regarding homelessness on the rise due to the recession.  I shared one of these PDF’s in my previous post.  I went through these documents and highlighted importance aspects, and then took notes.

I spent another 2 hours putting together a document that illustrates the participants of family homelessness.  An important part of understanding the homeless is knowledge of professionals who provide the homeless support.  These professionals see firsthand the families as they go through the process of entering and exiting a homeless state.  In addition to interviewing/photographing homeless families, I believe it will be fascinating to interview/photograph the many professionals who touch the homeless in a variety of ways, namely doctors, therapists, psychologists, teachers, and social workers.  I think interviewing/photographing these individuals would provide another dimension to my project that would be very interesting.  Here is the pdf I made, you can click on it to enlarge:

I spent another hour researching photographers who photograph families.  I also spent another 30 minutes reading one of my books I got from the library three weeks ago.  

I spent another 2 hours creating the first draft of my proposal.  Found it very helpful to peer edit one another’s proposals in small groups.

What I achieved/accomplished/learned:

This week I found it very beneficial to organize my thoughts on paper.  I found that writing the proposal was exactly what I needed. I thought the questions outlined in the proposal were extremely helpful; they helped to reinforce the objective of my project.  I feel this document is important because I whenever I am stuck throughout the year, I can always look back to my proposal to remind myself what I am trying to accomplish.  It was also very helpful for me to outline professionals who are involved in family homelessness and describe why.

I also learned the importance of patience and understanding when it comes to reaching out to others.  My project this year is going to require reaching out to various people and making connections. 

I also discovered a great resource for my project:

This site collects multimedia stories on various subject matters.  I found a great one on homeless people living in NJ suburbs, completed by the NY Times.   Here are two photographs from that multimedia story that I found particularly strong:

I am drawn to these because of the photographer's use of light and depth of field.  Depth of field is something I practice very often in my photography.  Some photos from a photoseries I completed last year on construction workers:

I love practicing depth of field in my photography because it provides the viewer a different way of observing the scene.  My plan is to use my depth of field approach when documenting the homeless.

What I want to do next:

After further thinking about how my project is going to look/feel, I thought about the importance of storytelling.  My interviews with these individuals are going to be successful based on the questions I ask them.  Interesting answers will come from great questions, so I need to put a list together of questions I need to consider asking the families. 

We are so lucky that we have such great resources right here at the the U of M.  I am planning on attending a few lectures on campus pertaining to my topic, for instance November 12 "Addressing Poverty in Troubled Times: an International Perspective on the U.S., North America and the World."

Do you think it would be interesting to hear multimedia stories coming from some of the professionals I listed?  

I also need to learn more about technical issues.  Stephanie, I remember in your CFC class we used Audacity.  What sound programs do you use?  Do you recommend Sound Booth?


1 comment:

  1. Meg,

    I am glad that you heard back from Alpha House and are still making more contacts. You mentioned possibly doing graphic design or photography work for Alpha House. Will you be doing separate work for them in addition to the work that you are doing for your project?

    It is wonderful that you are able to find so many resources that you can use not only for information but to also visually critique, as with the NYT cul-de-sac videos. How is your project similar to or different from these articles that you are already seeing/reading?

    I think it would be very interesting to also hear stories from the professionals who work with homelessness. They have the unique perspective of being both professionally and emotionally involved and yet removed from the situations of the people they help or study. It would be interesting to see what sort of responses you get from people, based on the questions you create.

    Technical questions I would like you to answer: What makes black and white photographs more dramatic? Does it change the way we see the people being photographed, and if so how and why?

    You are making great progress. You are working on an important part of the process of figuring out where the research intersects with your artwork and what sort of voice you want to present. Keep it up!