Well, let's get talking about something that's really important. And that really important thing for every photographer is called vantage point. Well a vantage point means where is the camera? Literally. Is it here, is it there, is it down here, is it up there, where is it? The great former director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, Mr. John Szarkowski, assembled an exhibit in 1964 which I think is one of the most important exhibits in regard to photography that ever was. Because through amazing photographs made by very famous photographers and also somewhat unknown photographers, he put together a show that educated us about the things that artists and the public, the snapshooter to the fine art photographer, need to understand about what makes photography different, and also the same as other art forms. It was entitled The Photographer's Eye. This photograph, shows the biggest camera in the whole world in 1900. It was a camera made by a fellow named Mr. George Lawrence, he was the United States photographer. He constructed it to make one photograph and that was a photograph of a train, and the image was recorded on a sheet of glass that was four and a half feet by eight feet. That's about what? A meter and a half by almost three meters. The camera itself weighed 1400 or about 635 kilograms. Think about how carefully the placement of that camera, in other words the vantage point, had to be chosen for that. This issue of vantage point, that exact spot where our eyes are positioned to observe the world around us, is not something we think about on a daily basis unless we're forced to. Think about this, how tall are you? Well, me I'm about six feet tall. How long have you been that height? I'm not going to tell you how long I've been that height, but I've been that high for a while. How would your experience of the world be different if all of a sudden, you were a different height? What if you woke up every day and every day you were a different height? Well, some of you who might be a little bit younger than me. You probably remember what it was like when you were going through a growth spurt. Right? Where one day you woke up, you got out of bed and you fell because all of a sudden your feet were bigger than they were when you went to bed. Or they appeared that way, or maybe it grew an inch or two while you were sleeping. We all know what the world means for us from the height we are right now. Right? We all know what the world means for us when we're seated in a normal-sized chair, or maybe when we're laying down on our bed and we open our eyes in the morning and we look. Seems that we've become accustomed to seeing from particular vantage point we understand. We know what normal is and this is very very dangerous if you want to be a creative photographer. The danger is, in thinking that you're not thinking about vantage point. The danger is, in accepting the world as it normally appears. And if I simply raise my camera to my eye, and even worse, if I hold it just horizontally, then all of my pictures are going to be from the height at which I think I already understand the world around me. How's that going to affect your photography? Making all of your photographs from a vantage point which you already know as quote "normal." Well, that's what we're here to talk about. There's a statue of the Michigan State University campus. And by the way, welcome to campus. You're all official Spartans right now. So I want you cheering nice and loud when our basketball and our football teams are playing and also when the art department is holding an exhibit of student work. This statue is called Sparty. And Sparty has come to symbolize the university. And many many people come to campus, every student I would imagine has their photograph made with Sparty and most of them go and make photographs of Sparty. And usually, they'll walk right up to the sculpture, it's quite a large thing, quite tall, maybe about nine feet tall, and look up and make a photograph sort of like this one. That's a normal vantage point for photographing Sparty. Some very daring photographers will move to the side a little bit and make a photograph that sort of emphasizes Sparty's helmet more, has him looking a little bit over his shoulder apparently from the from this vantage point. Wow, that's really crazy. No, not really. But what if they move just a little bit further away? And maybe a little bit more of an angle? Maybe turn a few more degrees? Now, look at Sparty. He appears to be marching boldly into the dreariness of a winter's day. We change our vantage point even more, move so that we're so-called too far away from Sparty. He's so small in this picture compared to other things, I mean the little trees in the foreground appear to be bigger than him. But by doing so, by taking an advantage point that's not normal, we can find some meaning that's perhaps a lot more interesting. Here Sparty walking away and by golly, he's just jumped on top of the wall. Heading off into the distance. If by some magic I could jump right through the screen that you're viewing me on right now, and bring my face within inches of yours, you would probably be very aware of your vantage point as it relates to me. In fact I do this every once in a while, actually I do this, don't tell my students. That I do it at the beginning of every first class lecture. I'll all of a sudden put my head right down near a student, right near their face, and I'll continue giving my lecture. And after just a second or two, they'll start to inch away and I will too because we both feel a little bit uncomfortable. We're both very much aware of our vantage point. Similarly, if Josy the dog could put her nose very close to your face and ask if she could sniff you, well that might be uncomfortable too. We usually feel uncomfortable when a person or pet or something else, maybe even a building, maybe a wall, is not in its normal space. In other words it's invading our space, our personal space. That's not normal for a stranger or even a close friend sometimes, to be in that space and we feel uncomfortable. Now, this is a really really important, when you start to feel uncomfortable about your vantage point, in other words you feel too close to something, where you feel like Sparty was, oh I'm too far away, or I'm looking at it from the wrong angle. I'm looking at it from too low or too high. Well this is great. That feeling of discomfort is very often a signal to you that hey you're onto something. It's just as important not to try to always find the odd vantage point. You might think from the blah, blah, blah, that I just gave you that oh, Professor Glendenning is telling me I ought to go close to things, or I have to go far away, or I have to go way up high in a tree and look down or those are all good things to try, but that's not always the best solution. It's important to look at things sometimes from very close, such as the view of this very strangely painted hallway. Maybe sometimes we should see it from more of a skewed or an odd angle. Maybe from a vantage point, and we might think well this will be a little bit more successful and the pattern certainly looks different as we look down this hallway. But, maybe it's actually just the normal vantage point. The vantage point that we would get as we just walked down this hall, that actually is the one that reveals the most. The spot that is really the creative photographer's choice. So whether you're looking straight down the hallway and all of a sudden seeing the words advance pedagogy, or you're looking from an angle and seeing a pattern, or you're looking from high up and seeing a world that's very skewed. Be in touch with your vantage point. And look at it as one of the most important creative and insightful tools that you can use.