Behind the Image: NAU Guest Blogger – Hannah Laurie » You Can Sleep When You're Dead: Blog by Colleen Miniuk

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May 212016

“The Illusion of Seclusion” || Photo copyright Hannah Laurie

“The Illusion of Seclusion”

I love images that stop and make people think, juxtaposing ideas or subjects. I captured this photograph at Salvation Mountain in the California desert, an art sculpture famous for its color, creativity, and the universal love messages everywhere. However, my photograph does not show this side of the mountain, it portrays the deserted town that drove the artist to create a mountain of color and love in a place where there was none. My inspiration to take this image came from my model friends that were all so vibrantly dressed to fit in with the colorful art sculpture, and the abandoned landscape around us. In this image there are several concepts or visual components that I wanted to juxtapose against the young vibrant girl: the bleak colors, the abandoned swing, the dead tree, and the vast empty landscape. No one would expect to see a girl in a bright dress wandering around the desert, you would only expect to see dead trees and maybe abandoned possessions. The message this image is communicating is about the cycle of life, one thing dies and another grows in its place. In this case you see both ends of the cycle which is pertinent to understanding the message.

To create this photograph I used a 24­105 mm lens on my full frame Canon 6D, using the full 24mm to really capture the sense of emptiness. I did this shoot while on a road trip and it just happened to be a stop along the way, so unfortunately it was little before noon which is the reason there are such harsh shadows. Noon light is usually a very bad thing in photography but in this case I do think that it adds to the effect of the image. Because it was almost noon I shot this at an ISO of 160, and my aperture at f/6.3. In post processing I desaturated a little bit of everything except for the sky and her to really make her pop. Before the desaturation, the ground was very yellow which distracted from her skin tone and her bright dress. I also brought up the clarity of the photo to give it a harsh look, being that it was in the desert I did not want the photo to look soft. Overall, I loved the concept of the photograph and the bright colors.

About the Photographer:

My name is Hannah Laurie, all my life I’ve been around photography, I grew up with my father taking amazing pictures all the time. Around the age of 14 I got my first DSLR for Christmas, and I haven’t stopped taking photos since. I got serious about photography around my junior year of high school and decided to go into AP photo where I really started to perfect my techniques. My senior year of high school I entered into the Scholastics Art and Writing awards, and ended up winning two Gold Keys; one for my entire portrait portfolio, and the other for an individual portrait. I have gained experience from the several Denver galleries I exhibited in, and have sold several prints. I am now a student at Northern Arizona University majoring in Photography and minoring Photojournalism. I would describe my style as dramatic, I don’t typically take cheesy bright and airy photographs, I like to take photographs that evoke emotion and make people really look at my work. I love working with people so I mostly take portraits. My reasoning is that without someone in your photo anyone could take the exact same photograph, but by adding a person, no one is ever going to capture that exact expression again. I am still not sure what I want to do with photography in my future but I know that as long as I have a camera in my hand I will be happy.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Hannah would love to hear from you!

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