Photography I – previsualization

This assignment started off hard and ended even harder…

This was a previsualization exercise where I had to plan out every element of the photo. Before I took the photo I had to answer a series of questions on all aspects of the photo including ISO, aperture, shutter speed, composition, lighting and editing. I was only allowed to take one photo…

This is that photo…
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I don’t have my long sheet but this is basically why I decided on this photo…

I live in a state that has one of the highest teenage suicide rates. Especially prone to suicide and homelessness in my state are the lgbtqia youth. Here in my state, there are forces that are continuing to push lgbt youth, their families and their supporters into a battle they shouldn’t have to fight. Even if you believe differently, a society, culture, government, organization or religion doesn’t have the right to tell someone they are worth less because of their sexuality (or race or gender). Yet, this is what is happening here and across the country.

This photo is an attempt to represent that. I chose a model and the set up to give the viewer the feeling of the personhood and the strength of an lgbt youth while still acknowledging the loneliness and isolation being lgbt brings. We are the people pushing these vibrant and vigorous youth down. They are stong. They are vivacious. But we don’t let them be who they are…
This photo is suppose to represent that. As a novice I did my best…ISO 400, shutter speed 1/5o sec, f/4.5

I knew there would be problems with this photo (because I don’t really know what I am doing 😉 ) I hoped the criticism would at least be somewhat limited…The professor read my summary and previsualization and then put up my photo. Of course, it was the first one (I don’t know why but for some reason my photos often end up first which I hate).

There is a girl in my class that always has a problem with my photos. At first I thought it was because my photos aren’t great. That is probably a legitimate part of it but she still always has really strange issues with them instead of specific problems like lighting or composition. Once when my professor said he wouldn’t change any part of one of my photos, she contradicted him saying she wasn’t sure what it was but there was definitely something missing and it needed to be changed. She takes very good photos. I have really enjoyed seeing her work. I am starting to wonder if that is how I am upsetting her…by also doing good work??

After there was the obligatory “wow…great!” from the class when the photo went up on the big screen she started in on my photo. I couldn’t really understand what she didn’t like but she made it clear she really didn’t like it. She just kept saying something isn’t right and it makes her feel uncomfortable…and she wasn’t going to let it go. The class started pushing back on her criticism and I started getting really uncomfortable and squirmed in my chair. This is where you start sweating and shaking your legs to try and stay calm. I am ok with criticism but this was starting to leave the realm of casual talking about the photo.

The the girl next to me started to speak up. I didn’t really know her at all. She got very emotional and started telling the class about how she is bisexual and most of her friends are gay. She refuted the other criticism and was happy the photograph made them uncomfortable. She said it should make you uncomfortable. Then she said that she felt the photo really captured what it was like to be her. She said you feel everything…you feel the isolation, the depression, the anger, the shunning but you also keep trying to reach out to others, you keep trying to be strong and keep trying to be yourself. Then she thanked me…

It was emotional to listen to her brief but sincere comments. Now I am sweating, shaking and feeling very emotional and raw. The professor asks me more about the photo but I really can’t talk at this point because of anxiety. I just say it is hard to explain. Then he hands out his criticism…softer light on the shoulder and more light on the other side which are editing fixes and suggested maybe a black shirt might work too. He also felt like more of a downward angle would have shown depression a little better. I tried to explain that I wasn’t going for depression as much as personhood of lgtb youth but my nervousness was way too high and I couldn’t get anything coherent out of my mouth…he continued to make sure I knew everything wrong with that photo. And he was probably right on most things…

I put out a photo that was controversial in my conservative city. I upset someone by taking a good photo, I probably upset some people by taking a stance on this issue, I made my other classmate emotional and vulnerable to the rest of the class, and I elicited the largest amount “constructive” criticism my teacher had ever given out to anyone in the class. I literally almost walked out of the class. My chest felt like it was caving in and I was doing everything I could to quietly gasp for breath and I clung to my chair to keep from running away. The only reason I was able to stay was because the lights were all turned off and I had managed to remain quiet through most of the discussion so I didn’t think anyone else realized I was basically having a mini panic attack.

Then my professor finished his critique. He asked if I was a photography major. I didn’t answer because it took a little while for me to register that he was asking me that question. The guy next to me answered for me and said, “Yes, I think she was in photography.” (last class he had asked us who was in the photography major and who was in design or art) The professor said “Good.” Then I realized it was me he had asked and I corrected them and said no I was in the design program currently. My professor said, “Change it, you belong in photography.” Honestly, I don’t even know what he meant…either I suck and need a lot more help or he sees some promise in me?? My heart is pounding even thinking about it…

After this…I don’t think I am cut out for photography….
I think my next photo will just be a tree…

3 thoughts on “Photography I – previsualization

    1. mprince Post author

      I could…and I probably will eventually. It is a little hard because I know he tries to keep it mellow and encourage everyone because each of us are at different levels but we probably all have the ability to become very good??

  1. Sarabeth

    I am so impressed by the picture and by your courage to make a stance on a controversial topic even though it can make your life so uncomfortable. Thank you!

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