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May 062014

Photo copyright Olivia Franco

In Northern Arizona University’s 2014 spring semester Amy Horn gave her Photography 285 class an assignment: to turn in: a portrait photograph. Spring break was the week before the assignment was due. I have always made the best attempt to be a diligent student and made plans to shoot the image at the beginning of the break. However, this was far from what had actually happened. I planned to return the Sunday before classes started up again and, of course, took the photo the Saturday before. Panic struck me at the thought of lacking someone at school that fit my very high, photogenic requirements. Originally, my mind was set on my mother, who has a very photogenic face. One argument later and we agreed that my mother would not be my subject. It was quite rude of her, something about how much she hates a camera in her face.  Out of options, I chose my father as my target instead.

Normally I considered my father to have a rather plain face, but I quickly learned that with the right amount of adjustment anyone could look nice for the camera. The photo’s set up was also interesting. Instead of an elegant studio, I had to make do with my parent’s home. 6:30pm light filled the room from approximately four windows. The background was a black, fleece blanket and his choice of seat was a common living room chair. The photo shoot began only after fidgeting with my flash and wireless triggers, which I placed to the right and above the subject, for a good twenty minutes. It was unprofessional at the time but I consider it a live and learn situation. My dad wore glasses and a dark grey graphic t-shirt at the time and after the first shot was taken I knew that wasn’t going to make for a dramatic photo. I took the glasses from him and choose a nice shirt out of his closet. I chose blue with the thought in mind that it would be nice with the black background. As he returned to his chair he grabbed a hat which hung by the front door. I considered it, assumed it would not harm the photo, and agreed to let him wear it.

I took many good shots and was overall pleased with them. We then experimented with the placement of the chair, brought in our family dog, and with the hat on and off. It was an enjoyable experience and my father started to have fun too. He struck a few poses and referred to them as his glamour shots. It wasn’t until I took the images into Lightroom that I decided that the joke photos were some of the best ones. My roommate had made the final decision of which photo to turn in for our portrait assignment. She referred to it as the “stoic” pose and was one of the ones I hadn’t considered due to its very “glamor shot feel”. When I received my grade from Amy, I was excited to see that I had received full points. From the experience, I learned that every photo you take is important, whether as a joke or in the spur of the moment, you never know which photo might be the money shot.

Shot with Canon Rebel T3. ISO: 200, 24mm, f/4.5, 1/160 seconds. Watermark added. I lowered the background’s exposure to take out any distractions.

About the Photographer:
My name is Olivia Franco and I am a third-year student at Northern Arizona University majoring in Electronic Media and Film with Theatre and Photography minors.  I have been fascinated with technology ever since I was a child, especially with cameras. My uncle is a professional photographer and I never failed to ask him to play with his camera at every family gathering. On the day of my high school graduation, he gave me my first camera: a Canon Rebel T3 DSLR. I currently shoot with that camera and plan to continue with it for a long time. I enjoy shooting macro and exposing the smaller things in life but have just now begun to understand the charm of portrait photography and hope to continue pursuing this other style.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/its-back-the-2014-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/.

May 042014

“Grumpy Gills,” photo copyright Shelby Lynch

“Grumpy Gills
Romping around on a warm day in Flagstaff, AZ with my partner in crime… okay, tour guide actually.  Admittedly, I wanted to sound cooler.  My older cousin graduated from Northern Arizona University a few years ago and lives up here with his fiancé and son, so they have helped me find places to take photos for class.

I was inspired to capture images of their son, Casey, because he was acting like my personal assistant.  He found all of the perfect flowers for me and would advise me to take photos of them.  Casey is three going on thirty.  He is the most serious, concentrated, well-mannered kid I know, but totally a thinker.  Casey would analyze the picture taking process and you could tell.  He has his “thinking face” on.  The boy was completely intrigued and wanted to know how everything worked together to create an image.  He asked and continues to ask me how the image gets inside of the camera and I love how fascinated he is with the process.

After attempting to answer questions as best I could, I turned the camera on little mister Casey.  Now in the past this has happened, but it seems every time I turn the camera on him… or most children, I get this “thinking face” or the face of a miserable child.  I don’t know what it is about me that brings this face out of children, but I must be doing something wrong.  I’ve showed them images on the camera, I’ve made the goofiest noises, and I’ve even danced (which would probably make me cry to see too, I suppose)… nothing works for me! The only time I seem to get a smile is when I put the camera down, and that’s just what Casey did.

As a photographer, I love to capture more emotions than happy or the typical smiling face, I enjoy capturing what’s real.  I’d like to believe that there is more than a happy smiling face to people, and think that is the reason people go to photographers more than companies now-a-days.

When I pulled the photos I took into Adobe Lightroom, and I quickly realized that this was my favorite one.  I adjusted the exposure slightly to darken it a little.  I also pulled the blacks down a little and created a matte preset for this image as well as the set it is in.

For my image, “Grumpy Gills”, I used my Canon Rebel T2i/EOS 600D.  My settings are ISO 100, 50mm lens at f/1.8, 1/500 of a second.

About the Photographer:
Hello, I’m Shelby Lynch and I’m generally all smiles.  Just a small town gal transitioning to university living.  I am the kind of girl who prefers to be behind the camera.  I am majoring in photography.  I have been shooting since I got my first camera in 2006.  When I started out, I just took photos of friends and still life.  I have done a number of portrait shoots, but I believe there is always something to learn.  I love to capture people’s real essence and try finding beauty in everything.  One day I hope to own my own business.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/its-back-the-2014-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/.

Apr 272013

Photograph copyright Sherese French

Over spring break my friend, Kristine and I had the urge to do just a simple portrait session since it was so beautiful outside. I used my Nikon D5100 at an ISO of 100 and 1/200 for shutter speed since it was sunny outside. I took many pictures of her and most of the pictures came out great. This picture in particular, though, was almost like an experiment when editing. I loved the way her body, face, and eyes are all directly facing the camera. I created the split photo just to see how it would turn out. I thought it looked extremely interesting and Kristine thought it was amazing.

After editing I looked at the photo and just thought how much it reminded me of dreams that could never be fully put together. This image is like a shattered memory, different personalities, details being forgotten, and much more. This photo has so many different meanings to me. Because of the dream-like state the photo represented I named it “Stay Awake.” I feel that the title suits the picture perfectly. The filter I used to create the split image was available on photobucket.com. The filter worked for this photo because Kristine is faced toward the camera and is centered. Any of the other photos of her where she is not centered or facing the camera would not have worked. Her eyes really draw the picture together too. It was not just the way her body is positioned and the filter, it was also how intense her eyes are looking at the camera. Having all these factors put into one photo is such an accomplishment for me.

As a photographer your subject is what draws people in. I could just have a really cool filter over a so-so photo and that’s alright but having a subject or model and knowing how to work with that person or object can create an amazing photo. I feel as though I was lucky to have a great model and a unique filter for the photograph. It’s not just who you are as a photographer that takes amazing photos; it’s what you take pictures of and how you do it. I find these words immensely true when shooting inanimate objects or human models.

About the Photographer:
I started out my artistic career in high school by taking three art classes. It was not until my senior year of high school that I took a photography class. I had my first solo photography show because my teacher thought I found my medium. My teacher inspired me to take photography classes in college. In college I found that I really enjoy studio portraits. There’s just something about the human body and face that I find beautiful.

I have been taking pictures for about four years now and I am still finding my niche. I love taking pictures of more macabre things. Most of my photography imitates my older artwork which stems from a darker genre. My inspiration for such artwork and photography comes from an artist named Alex Pardee. His work is so unique and that is how I picture the artwork I produce.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction on our April 15 post at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/introducing-the-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project.