In 2009, construction began on a teahouse across the boulevard from the newly opened Ismaili Centre. According to a tour guide from the teahouse, over the course of the 5 years of construction, more than 4,000 traditional Tajik craftsmen, skilled in stonework, woodcarving, alabaster plaster, and traditional painting, would take part in building and decorating a 3,500 square meter palace. Built for matters of state, ceremonial events, and for public entertainment, this monumental structure was one of our two locations for today’s assignment: Architecture.
Critique this morning left us feeling pretty good about our students with some pretty amazing images coming out of our afternoon in the park. The students are making good exposures, they are seeing things from interesting perspectives and quite a few of them tried some novel techniques for shooting nature…today, we turned up the heat.
As I said earlier, the challenge today was architecture and it was almost certainly going to be a tough one! We had two distinctly different locations to photograph today: the teahouse Kohi Nowruz, ornately guilt edifice, and the Ismaili Centre Dushanbe, a subtle stately construct. In both cases, these buildings are impressive and when faced with something as imposing as these structures often photographers have a difficult time not being overwhelmed. But today, our students handled themselves masterfully, seeing not only the general forms of each structure but also seeing into the details of each space. They explored the relationships of the decorative structures of the teahouse and the way the light played through Ismaili Centre.
While the students saw the Kohi Nowruz as towering columns and curving arches, they saw the Centre as understated designs in brick and enamel and wood. And when an afternoon storm blew across Dushanbe and left puddles and wet sidewalks these too became windows for the students to look through the buildings in different ways. What could very easily have been a day of very static photography, in the hands of this class became a workshop in layering, light, and the relationships of people and architecture.