I had a particular professor at RISD that taught the documentary photography course, who used to bring her own collection of photobooks to class for us undergrads to thumb though. I remember being able to flip through a crumbling 1st edition of Beyond Caring, by Paul Graham or Eugene Richards’, Dorchester Days and being enamored. I had already been collecting photobooks myself, but it was the first time I was looking through books in a classroom as a collective whole and discussing how it operated as the artist’s intention.
I now bring my own collection to class for my students to thumb through as they wait for their prints to come out of the Colex (a color processor for all you non-darkroom folk). Last week one of my students was flipping through Dorchester Days backwards and his fellow classmate nudged him saying, “You can’t do that. The book reads completely different if you start from the beginning.” This intervention was simple and beautiful. Sometimes you don’t listen to a professor all that well, but if your friend says it, you take notice. This interventionist was my savior.
I’m now happy to repay this act in my own classroom and witness the same collective experience I had as a student. Thanks Julia.