One of the weirdest pedagogical experiences I get to have: students who don't believe me. Who come to me with a question for which I provide an answer, and then tell me I'm wrong. Just for the record, because I have no problem confessing ignorance when I don't have answers, I am not actually wrong a lot. (LOL!! Don't ask my mom about this!) And since we're "on the record" I should also say that when I recognize that a question appears to require a subjective response I situate my feedback in context. When these things don't work, I will say something like this: "Student, pretend I am your client. I just asked you for 5 widgets. Give me the widgets or you won't be paid." or "GREAT! I'm glad you love it printed with the 5 filter; you can put that on your refrigerator and now make one for me."
You might ask: WTF with all this clap-trap about teaching when I'm posting awesome photos by one of my students? Um. Yeah. Thien's been a pretty tough nut. From happily stating in critique of others' efforts: "I don't like any of it." to telling me I'm wrong about what a print should look like, to not getting stuff done on time because it's just his little way...this list could be extended, but you get the idea. Thing is, he has also been one of the most rewarding students I've had in years.
The dude is "ON." Always thinking, always assessing, exploring, trying new things. He wants to talk about stuff and he likes arguing and being challenged...he is actually looking for answers. He's got his own style, and his own ideas which are complex and in constant flux. And yeah, he has been critical of others' photos, but he also turns that critical eye onto his own work, and in my opinion, with really amazing results. Furthermore, this quarter his prints have been golden, and he is developing his own photographic vision and style...I'm putting some of his work below.
What I like the best about Thien's photos is that they are peculiar, unnatural somehow, surreal. His use of fingers and legs as primary touch-points, the shapes he creates with bodies, and what's missing are all features that interest me about the photos and that leave me feeling that I've been allowed a glimpse into a privately coded universe where things are just half-a-bubble off. I also love his attention to light, and his sense of overall composition. If you would like to see more of Thien's work, you can check out his Flickr page!