Studio Problems is a production class where students gain a variety of skills generally used in commercial photography for use in their own work. The hope is that gaining the diversity of technical knowledge required for that type of work and the confidence that comes with accomplishing oftentimes daunting problems helps the student accomplish better personal and/or conceptual work in other classes. It’s about learning not only what you want say, but how to make it happen.
The semester begins with the class selecting advertising ‘tear sheets’ (usually advertising torn from magazines, or more currently, lifted from the web), whose lighting, propping, set construction, etc. provide a challenge to re-create. There are no rules as to how this is done, only that the Director study the original image, break down what they believe to be the original lighting and propping, and figure out a way to make their shot look as close as possible (or more interesting) to the original.
Making a perfect recreation is (probably) impossible, but the attempt always provides great problems demanding creative solutions.