Visiting My Student Photography Portfolio After a Long Time; Glimpses
How it all began as a new photographer
Imagine that you wake up in the morning and open your eyes. You may see your ceiling, window, or alarm clock first.
You just witnessed an image embedded in your mind for the next 15 seconds.
You quickly roll back over after hitting the snooze button on your alarm
The next thing that you see is your coffee pot as you sleepily rub your eyes.
We capture these images in our mind’s eye and are affectionately called “Glimpses.”
In the “Glimpses” project, I immersed myself in studying time and experienced my curiosity in college.
What does it mean to live for the moment and experience the moment without pre-disposition?
Is it possible to not be pre-disposed to a moment? What is it like to react instead of pre-meditating an outcome simply?
Is it possible to live purely in a moment without the interference of the past or future?
And when is a moment without any other context or subjectification/objectification?
As I photographed as a student in Italy, these questions floated through my mind.
Years later, I became a teacher. I decided to publish my work in a book format to inspire my students that it is ok to make mistakes while learning photography.
If I don’t share my mistakes, I can’t expect anyone else to communicate errors and learn.
How this project got started
When I was a student in college, we were required to do a study abroad program.
I chose to complete mine in Florence, Italy, at a school by the name of SACI.
SACI is an art school that made a partnership with the University of Michigan.
I chose to study for one month in my program because it met my college’s requirements, and I could not afford more.
When I landed in Florence, SACI sent a student representative to greet the students from UM.
We were taken to apartments owned by the school to share with other students to drop off our luggage.
After getting settled, we were given a tour of our surroundings and the magic that is Florence, Italy.
I remember that I acted the part of a tourist at first.
I was the guy wearing the Detroit baseball cap and the pasty white legs in shorts. I was the guy that did not speak a lick of Italian. I was a fish out of water for what was about to come my way.
But it was all about changing my perspective on the first day of classes.
Advanced black and white film photography
I entered SACI on my first day of classes and was told I needed to report to the second floor.
I trudged up the stairs, half hung over from the wine I had drunk with my new housemates the night before.
At the top of the stairs were two enormous wooden doors twice my height that entered the photography classroom.
As I walked in, many other students from UM and other schools were settling into their seats.
I noticed substantial beautiful windows with rays of crystal-like light that entered the room through them. And I was very excited to begin.
The teacher that gave me a nudge in the right direction
Before this moment, I took a lot of portraiture and fashion photographs.
I thought I was the bee’s knees of hot shit and that Conde Nast would come knocking at my door to beg me to work for them.
And please forgive me, friends; I may have come off as arrogant at the time.
In our first week of class, Professor Romeo Di Loreto saw me for what I was trying to be and in contrast for who I actually am.
He has an inexpiable gift to inspire others with his advice and to point you in the direction of what he sees in you.
Romeo gave me my first experiences in looking at photographers like Duane Michals, Robert Frank (who I would later befriend in NYC), Cartier-Bresson, and countless others.
Romeo gave us a project to buy ten rolls of tri-X 400 black and white and to shoot one thing we loved long term.
I had no clue what I wanted to shoot.
I remember that I brought him portraits of models.
He urged me to try some street photography to see what I saw in Florence.
I remember that one day I brought him a contact sheet with a photograph of a shoe in a storefront window.
He circled it and marked it with high praise as one of my best shots with his yellow grease pencil. I could not understand at the time why, but later on, in life, I understood the lesson.
Another image on my contact sheets was an old chair sitting next to the laundry.
My housemates and I spent time on the balcony in this chair at night drinking and talking until the sun came up. It was always fascinating to see the chair in the light of day to me.
I learned a lot about dappled light through trees in my adventures.
I learned a LOT about shutter speed control at this time. And I made mistakes that became happy accidents.
One of my mistakes was not understanding that P mode on my camera would give me a very slow shutter in obscure situations.
I did not hone in on photographing ‘one’ thing as Romeo had asked me to do (Sorry, Romeo). But I discovered a more authentic voice and approach to my photography.
And while I was in Florence, I did reach out to Vogue IT and took a very long train trip to Milan.
When I took the trip to Milan to meet with Vogue IT for the first time, I was very anxious.
I thought that it was my shot. It would be a dream to work for Conde Nast.
I did meet with Vogue IT, and I did end up photographing for them. But after a while, you learn that work is work, and you are you.
What I learned from Glimpses
I learned to photograph for myself and not photograph what I thought others wanted to see.
Photography also became more than my goal of creating Conde Nast publications. It became a voice and an outlet to discover who ‘I’ was.
I learned that photography is what you make it.
And I found myself more curious than ever to explore what everything looked like in photographs.
On when I published Glimpses as a book
I remember that I got my first teaching gig, living and working in NYC.
Several of my early students struggled to share their mistakes.
So I decided to re-visit my old student work.
I put this together as ten contact sheets for my final project in Romeo’s class. And then showed a gallery showing of the 126 prints at the University of Michigan when I returned.
I never thought it would turn into my first book in a million years, but life is full of surprises.
I self-published through Blurb and made hard copies available on Amazon and in person.
Over time, I sold out all the hard copies I kept in my studio.
And recently, as I mull over the idea of completing my sixth book, I am re-visiting the archives to see where I have come from. This always allows us to see where we are going.
I also decided that it was time to talk about the work more.
I have presented much of it in classes over the years, teaching for NYU, UM, Adorama, and others. But I never thought about sharing it in different formats.
So today, I took a leap into a new chapter and released this entire project as a download for the first time.
I remember that my friend Robert Frank also did this with his work at NYU. He released a newspaper of his prints and stories for $10.
So here is my hommage to my friend, my teachers, and I offer inspiration for the next generations of photographers.
If you wish to support and download “Glimpses,” it is available for USD $9.99.
Thank you for reading!
And if you remember your student photography, I would love to see it or hear about it in the comments.
Hi, I am Charlie Naebeck
I am a husband, professional photographer, teacher, life coach, ex-pat, and digital nomad.
Voted in the top 10 photography teachers in NYC. Top photography writer on Medium. I also have written for The Phoblographer, Adorama, Dpture, and more.
I travel the world with my family and camera giving others the gift of photography. I also consult with businesses to help develop content creation strategies for business engagement.
I can help you:
Contact me here to book a session.Download my digital classes and Ebooks here where I provide many valuable insights and tips. My students and clients find it helpful to keep my advice digital in their pockets.
If you like what you read, please consider giving me a follow on Medium.
P.S. If you are interested in how I got to this point in my life, read my story here.
Visiting My Student Photography Portfolio After a Long Time; Glimpses was originally published in Photography101 on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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