Monday, June 13, 2016

Assignment that I am the Most Proud of

I would say that the assignment that I am most proud of is my portrait photography. Through my research of portrait photographers for the Historical and Contemporary Photographers assignment, I learned that the purpose of a portrait should be to tell the story of a person or a scene. This should be the intention for all photographs, but with portrait photography, I think that it is even more important because you need to get across exactly how that person is feeling at the moment the image is being taken. This was one of my most successful photography assignments because I think it contains my best examples of capturing a moment, a strategy I have been working on all year. In addition, I think this assignment was very successful for me because I think it represents one of my largest varieties in subject. Oftentimes, when given a bi-weekly assignment, I photograph a few pictures a day for each of the days the assignment spans. This is not only a strategy to spread out the workload, but also because I often lack ideas and inspiration, and don’t know what I should photograph in order to meet the criteria beyond the few photos that had already taken for that day. With the portraits assignment, I didn’t feel at a lack of inspiration at all. Some people like to photograph landscapes, other like animals, and others like food, but my passion has always been in photographing people. By this, I do not mean that I live to stand behind the camera and push a button to capture 5 girls standing in a line with their arms around each other giving off a fake smile. Instead, I have always like to photograph people who aren’t looking or posing. I want to capture their personality and what it feels like to be around them using a photo. I feel as though I did that in this assignment, which is why I would consider it one of my most successful assignments this year in photo.

Most Memorable Experiences

I have had an abundance of highly memorable experiences and assignments throughout my time in this class this semester. I think one of my favorite themes that was woven into multiple assignments is the idea of identity. One of my favorite, most memorable assignments that incorporated the idea of identity is the Burning House Project. First, I found the whole concept to be very interesting and it really got me thinking. Having the opportunity to see what other people would bring was very fascinating, because it gives you a glimpse into what is truly important to them, even though you don't know them at all. Seeing the examples online also gave a sense of change in the placement of importance on different things for different age groups. Children were simply concerned about grabbing their favorite toy, special blanket, and maybe their piggy bank. People in their twenties and thirties were more practical and often materialistic, grabbing everything worth the most value in terms of money, rather than sentimental, emotional, or memorable value. Lastly, the people of the older generations were generally the ones who based what they would grab solely off of practical reasoning, bringing clothes, money, food, matches, etc. I thought that investigating this project and what different people would bring. In addition, I thought that it was very fun, but difficult, to try to compile and photograph my own list of what I would choose to grab if my house was burning down. This required deep thinking and self-reflection on what really are the most important things to me and what can be replaced.

My next most memorable experience in this class was the time we spent using photoshop. Going into this class, I had never used photoshop before, and I didn't know a single thing about it. Our first assignment that we had to do using photoshop, besides Photos With Quotes where we just added text, was levitation. I think that levitation was by far one of my favorite assignments because it allowed us to find ideas on pinterest, or other search locations, and find ideas that we could attempt to replicate. Seeing these images before, I would have never known how to even begin to go about making one, but after learning some of the basic tools, I was able to be inspired by the images I saw and make my own levitation images. Although you can tell my photos are fake because our minds don’t let us believe things that defy gravity, I still think they are very cool and I am very proud of the products. The next time we used photoshop was for forced perspective photography, another one of my favorite assignments. I think that I liked this assignment because it was very similar to the levitation photography in the sense that we were able to go on pinterest and find super cool ideas that we’ve probably seen floating around the internet sometimes, but never really knew how to do. As we were a bit more familiar with photoshop for this assignment than the levitation one, it was a lot less focused on learning all of the nit-picky “ins and outs” of photoshop and, rather, we could use all of our time creating our images. This assignment, too, tended to defy what our mind tells us is possible, which is one of the main reasons I liked it so much.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pinhole Photography

Throughout this experience, I have learned an abundance of things about pinhole photography. First, I learned the scientific and historic aspects of pinhole photography and why it works. Also in the more scientific realm, I learned the purpose and importance of each of the chemicals we put the photos into in order to develop them. Secondly, through extensive trial and error, I learned a lot about exposure throughout my time doing this project. The biggest thing I learned is that there is not one constant exposure time that you can use all the time. Instead, you have to adjust your exposure time taking into account multiple different factors such as light and the size of your pinhole. In all, Roya and I usually took several pictures in the same spot, but we changed the exposure time, always learning from the last, in order to perfect the lighting of our photo. Lastly, I learned about the dark room process of both making negatives and positives. If I had to take one thing away from my darkroom experience, it would be that it is absolutely vital that it is actually dark. If your image is exposed to white light before it has gone through the developer, the stop bath, and 45 seconds in the fixer, it could ruin it.

Personally, I think the most exciting part of this assignment was watching my photo develop into a negative. Even after you take your photo, go into the dark room, and remove your paper from the can, the paper is still blank. Pinhole photography has a lot of elements that you attempt to do properly without truly knowing how it is going to turn out.  For example, exposure time was very hard to master. I love developing the photos because you are either happy with your product, or you can learn from your mistakes. If your photo turns out too bright, you know that you need to increase your exposure time, and if it is too dark, you know to decrease it. If I had to choose a single moment I looked forward to the most in this assignment, it would be the second I flip my photo over after it has been in the developer for 1 minute. I see this as the "make it or break it" moment where I always find myself crossing my fingers for a good product. Although the photo is not completely done developing, after you take it out of the developer, you can get a general sense of whether or not you were successful. There is no better feeling that flipping it over to transfer it from the developer to the stop bath and having the lighting be perfect and your subject exactly where you wanted.

For me, the most challenging part of this assignment was actually coming up with ideas of what the photograph. One of my personal favorite things to do when I photograph images is to mix up the perspectives to make my images more interesting. I couldn't do this as much as I usually do when I used the pinhole cameras because I was limited by the fact that I couldn't hold the camera. Rather, it had to be set on a flat surface and face straight ahead. As this limited me to capturing my subjects face on usually at eye level, I had to employ my creativity in other ways, which was kind of difficult for me. One of the ways I did this was by using ghosting. I found ghosting to be a very interesting concept that was hard to achieve but looked very cool if done correctly. Another thing I tried to do what create a bit of an optical illusion. Since pinhole images of people are often a little bit blurry because it is nearly impossible for someone to be completely still for your entire exposure time, I took advantage of this and the fact that there was a little wiggle room for imperfections and attempted to "combine" multiple people into one person. I put one person in the front and two behind her with their arms out so, all layered together, it looked like the person in the from thad 6 arms. Using a normal camera, you would be able to see if the people did not line up perfectly and it would be obvious that it was simply 3 stacked people, but I think using the pinhole camera made it a very cool image.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Forced Perspective Photography

To continue to develop creative problem-solving skills by creating forced perspective photographs in a unique original way; 
To practice altering perspective and looking at subjects in a unique way;
To further develop your Photoshop knowledge and skills;

Overall, in this assignment, I feel that I had both successes and challenges. One of my successes that I felt I had was that I created a variety of forced perspective photos. Through my exploration of Pinterest for ideas, I came to realize that there are three major categories of forced perspective photos. One category is photos that capture moments that could have possibly occurred but look very weird, usually due to the scale of one of the items in the picture such as someone blowing up a huge balloon or someone inside a jar. My top picture of Roya "balancing" on the pile of rocks is where I attempted to use that method. The next category I came across was photos that simply couldn't happen but still look very cool. My middle photo, of my friend Jill meditating on my dogs tongue, is an example of this. Lastly, I saw a lot of photos that didn't even need photoshop, but were simply created by lining people or objects up in a way that makes an "optical illusion" type scene. I did this with my last photo of someone holding up a mug with  a cloud to look like steam. Although you didn't need to, I did choose to use photoshop to create this, as that was the purpose of the assignment. I feel like the biggest challenge I had was coming up with ideas. There were plenty of ideas I saw on Pinterest and google that would be easy, but they didn't look cool or realistic in any sense. For me, this was a project of trial and error because I kept attempting to tackle the cooler, more illusory ideas and, oftentimes, they simply would not come out the way I wanted them to. The layering often looked off, which made the photo look very edited. Although it is obvious that some forced perspective photographs are edited, it should be done in a way that it could actually look real if our common sense wasn't there to tell us it's not possible for, for example, a human to be completely inside a dog's mouth.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Who am I video?

To understand the purposes and differences of selfies, portraits and self-portraits;
To look at the work of of contemporary artists who create portraits and self-portraits and interpret and analyze their purposes;
To create a video that effectively communicates “who you are”;
To use iMovie’s features in a creative and unique way.

Who am I?
Music by Noah and the Whale

Monday, May 9, 2016

Creative Portraits/Self-Portraits

While taking my portraits for this assignment, I was constantly thinking of the several photo taking techniques that I had researched in the previous week. I was able to use a few of the strategies while taking my photos, which I believe helped make them both more interesting and more powerful. The main technique I tried to focus on was capturing a moment. The ability photographs have to capture a moment is one of the biggest reasons I like photography so much. As these are the kind of photos I naturally gravitate towards, they are also what I am constantly thinking of in the back of my mind when I am taking a photo. Capturing a moment in time where a specific emotion is displayed is what I subconsciously think of as my brain ponders when I should push the button. In each of the photos above, as well as many of my other photographs from this assignment and in general, are capturing a moment and telling a mini story. The one technique that I am also very interested in, researched, and wanted to attempt was framing, but none of my photos using framing seemed to turn out very successful. Framing is definitely one thing I would like to keep working on as I continue to pursue portrait photography in the future.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


Cindy Sherman:
Cindy Sherman is a highly famous portrait photographer, not for her photos of others, though. Rather, Cindy Sherman is famous for the photographs she takes of herself. Her photographs are not just "selfies" the way we think of them though: silly, spontaneous, humorous. Cindy Sherman uses herself as a way to share her commentary on a variety of issues of the modern world. A central theme in Sherman's work surrounds women and their role in various aspects of life. She has used the messages in her photographs to provoke thinking surrounding important questions about the role and representation of women in society and in the media. There is always a sense of mystery in Sherman's photographs about who she really is as an individual. It is said that each of her photographs are so unique and ambiguous that the viewer is left with more confusion than clarity over Sherman's true nature. Sherman has dabbled in photography that uses people other than herself as the subjects, but she has always resorted back to taking photos of herself, as that is how she portrays the strong message that she is passionate in spreading.

Brandon Stanton:
Brandon Stanton is nearly a household name at this point due to his fame as the photographer behind the blog, book, and Instagram page "Humans of New York".  Brandon Stanton does a spectacular job at capturing moments. One of the things that sets him apart from the thousands of other portrait photographers in the world is the fact that he is capturing moments in ordinary people's lives. His photos are not staged. His subjects are not dressed in a certain, intentional way. There is a very natural way about Stanton's methods. He simply approaches people on the streets of New York who are in the midst of living their day to day lives. Oftentimes, he gathers a quote from the subject as well which, when placed with the photo, helps add to the story that is being told through the image. Brandon Stanton is highly successful in not only taking amazing portraits, but in sharing the stories of some truly amazing people with unbelievable stories.