To celebrate the publication of The Photographer’s Playbook: 307 Assignments and Ideas, Aperture commissioned twenty-two photographers to create new works in response to assignments from the book. Curated by Christopher McCall of Pier 24 Photography, the project sparked a fascinating dialog between some of the world’s leading photographers and educators working today. What follows is an insight into the possibilities of looking at photography through someone else’s eyes.


"The assignment asks to create a cyanotype, thinking of blue (and thus also the cyanotype) not only as a color, but also as a metaphor for distance—something that is far away or from the past, but also missed or desired. This past August, I moved to Rochester, New York, from California, where I’ve lived my entire life. Relocating has created a long list of missed and desired people, places, and experiences. 


I no longer have the Polaroid photograph pictured in the cyanotype; it’s still in San Francisco. It shows Yosemite Falls, a landscape that has been photographed and remembered countless times. I made the original image with a triple exposure on the same piece of Polaroid film, hoping to amplify the waterfall’s presence and reconcile the distance between the photographic record and seeing, hearing, and feeling the water crash over the granite cliffs. However, the photograph remains a go-between for the experience, and is now, in cyanotype form, a stand-in for a stand-in."


–Sean McFarland 


The artist responded to Lisa Elmaleh's assignment, Cyanotype and the Blue World, on page 93 of The Photographer's Playbook:


"I ask them [students] to read the first chapter, “The Blue of Distance,” in Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost. We then create cyanotype prints based on that idea, thinking of blue not only as a color, but also as a metaphor for distance. Distance could be a person or a place that you miss, or something from the past, a memory—something far away, but that resonates..." 

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