Campus / News / April 17, 2008

Entering the digital age

Senior John Baillie, a studio art major with a focus in digital photography and a psychology minor, is the first digital photography major at Knox.

Baillie started experimenting with photography when he was 15. He learned from his dad, and took classes in high school and college. He started in film photography, but switched to digital because “in the digital realm I would do the same amount of precision and editing in half the time,” he said.

Baillie works in a wide variety of photography, from his journalistic work with TKS to his studio work.

“More recently [I’ve been] interested in ‘motion photography’…[it’s about] seeing the world differently by using photography,” he said.

Baillie uses low and medium light with a long shutter speed, “to purposely blur the environment.” Some art is predictable, some is random and by chance.

“The art department really pushes me towards this,” he said, while some of his colleagues don’t understand what he’s doing.

Baillie said he has found that with motion photography “you have to be willing to adjust your eye to see the compositional elements that come out of the blur and confusion.” Baillie is working on bettering his “motion photography” technique, exploring the “ambiguity that motion brings.”

At first Baillie was apprehensive about his art. It was not until he started editing it, against the wishes of the art department, that he could see the compositional elements. “I think that editing makes me feel like an artist because I can clearly see my hand [in the work],” he said.

Baillie also takes “environmental portraits” that portray people in their own environment or space.

“I’m drawn to the human element of art,” said Baillie. “People pose a challenge; I revel in that challenge.”

He describes himself as the “chameleon photographer.” He must be able to shoot anything at any time in all sorts of conditions. This takes a lot of experience and skills, he explained. You have to be able “to just go into any situation and shoot a picture.”

Back home in Minnesota, Baillie works for a portrait studio and works freelance for The Stillwater Gazette. He wants to create a stock portfolio full of “generic but visually interesting images that can be used in advertising.”

He said, “I sell myself in my portfolio to an ad company and they push my images for me.”

Baillie is interested in making this his career, that way he can “focus on art and still have a steady income.”

Baillie is not worried about the risks of becoming a professional artist.

He said, “I think that the goal in life is to do something you love…I love photography and I relish in competition.”

Klayr Valentine-Fossum

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