Academic Spotlight
Faculty Research, Performance and Exhibitions

Photographer's Digital Experiment Creates Archive of Daily Images

Story posted December 28, 2006

The digital revolution has, among other innovations, vastly expanded the range and quality of photographic tools available. Great news for the masses – but for some professional photographers accustomed to working with the physicality of negatives and prints, the switchover to digital media has had special challenges.

Bowdoin Assistant Professor of Art Michael Kolster, who has taught photography at the College since 2000, decided to meet the challenge of digital imaging on a daily basis. Beginning in 2002, Kolster began shooting digital images and posting them on Bowdoin’s Web site in a daily photographic journal, which he named The Daily Post.

The archive of photos, which now totals over 1,700 images, reveals a serendipitous collection of moments captured from Kolster’s daily life.

kolster photo

“It’s definitely about what’s happening each day,” reflects Kolster. “I try hard not to think about what I’ve done the day before. It’s about making photographs without any specific ideas before they are made. After a while, looking back at the photographs, I begin to wonder if there are patterns that emerge from them.

“There really is no intentional thematic glue except for the structure of doing it every day. And because it chronicles so many days of activity it is meant to point out that moments in the day are fleeting. I tend to just respond to or pay attention to where my eyes go.”

The range of subjects and photographic styles is richly variable. During December 2006, for instance, images include blurry, abstract cityscapes, tender portraits, and almost surreally clear details of daily objects.

The daily inquiry and practice the photos represent also reflect Kolster’s teaching style.

“It’s extremely important for students to work every day,” he says. “Daily practice is an important part of being able to learn and engage with any skill. There are students in the class who are athletes – they understand they have to practice on the field what they do every day in order to be good at it. Taking pictures requires practice as well.”

Images from The Daily Post – which Kolster also sends out as links in a daily, subscribed list-serv – have sometimes made their way into physical form. In 2005, he exhibited the first 1,000 images in grids of 3x5-inch prints at the Icon Gallery in Brunswick. In another twist, he assembled a five-minute video that ran six-photos-per-second in a wash of imagery.

Audiences can see an exhibition of the changing cityscapes for which Kolster is best known in an upcoming show at the University of Southern Maine’s Woodbury Campus Center at the Portland campus. The exhibition, entitled “FLUX,” which runs Jan. 16–March 9, 2007, includes multiple-image panoramic pigment prints chronicling post-Katrina rebuilding in New Orleans. For more information, call: 207-780-5008.

New Orleans photo

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