No matter how I sugar-coat it, La Jolla is a bubble. I've been learning to appreciate it, but I'm a city girl at heart; I get antsy.

One of my goals for this quarter is to shoot every weekend. It's a nice way to get out and exercise my camera. Last weekend, I tagged along with two photographers, Laurel (@laurelwilliamsphoto) and Charles (@charlesspanglerphoto), who have mad experience with fashion editorial photography.

(Side note: I'm always excited to meet students into photography. They're semi-rare at such a STEM heavy school.)

I got to watch them in action, sometimes modelling and sometimes shadowing, and then do it myself. I've mostly shot smiley senior portraits and headshots. This is totally different. You capture a vibe. You play with location and how the model interacts in it. It's less about the person and more about the composition. Granted, I wasn't getting paid, but it was cool to practice my creative eye without the pressure of delivering a packaged product.

I'm so thankful for creative friends, and I'm so excited to see where this photography thing goes. In the meantime, I'll be studying for midterms.


[Model: Faisal Alnajjar (@faisal_alnajjar)]

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Recently, I photographed a political demonstration.

I usually don't go to these things, and I'm certainly not as politically involved as I should be; I was there on behalf of an extracurricular of mine.

As I began to photograph, someone told me that demonstrators requested that no pictures be taken. I explained that because they were in a public space, no one could prevent me from photographing. So I took pictures anyways.

I have images. Pretty good images, as well; and with my photography career in mind, I want them to be published.

As a photographer, it is my responsibility to capture events as a third party; to convey the truth. Don't these demonstrators want publicity for their cause? On the other hand, they were standing for a sensitive issue. Who am I to go against their requests, especially amidst the politically (and for some, emotionally) fragile climate? How much of my integrity do I sacrifice for that shot?

I'm wrestling with the idea of capturing sensitive situations. Richard Drew photographed The Falling Man, a man falling from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Horst Faas photographed a man holding the corpse of his child, collateral damage from the Vietnam War. These images compel us. They help us understand the human experience- the realities of painful moments in history. These are moments much bigger than a peaceful demonstration on a college campus, but the question remains: what right does a photographer have to stick their lens into these moments? On one hand, it connects us. But on the other hand, maybe private moments should remain private, intimate.

I'm asking myself a lot of questions. The biggest one is this: What is my heart behind photography?


[The event took place in front of Silent Tree, the location of many political gatherings on campus. I decided not to publish any photos of demonstrators, but this is a picture of Silent Tree (and Geisel Library), courtesy of David Chang via Panoramio.]

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This is Elisabeth. We went to high school together. She rocks elephant pants like nobody's business and makes the best coconut-date balls. Despite the short 9 months we spent together, we became close. I took this picture on a school service trip to India.

If Myers-Briggs is accurate at all, we're complete opposites- ENFP and ISTJ. Knowing Elisabeth has shown me how different every single person is, and how beautiful that difference is. I can't think of a conversation with her that hasn't inspired me.

I got to see her over winter break. Here are some thoughts from our conversation:

I've occupied so much brain space being unhappy about my location. La Jolla is a quiet suburban beach town- quite a change from the cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, it's so easy to hop on a bus and adventure. I've spent so much energy making everything an adventure, but adventure is moreso about being open and letting adventure happen.

As Hong Kongers, we put so much value in being 'cultured.' But in spite of their 'unworldliness,' people have such rich life experiences. It's a blessing to travel, but people have other blessings to share. Maybe experience (especially in uni) isn't about the location, but in the people.

Love is the only thing worth living for, the only thing that satisfies. Love is more than what exists between two people 'in love.'

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I've been photographing seriously for about 18 months, and like many photographers, I just started doing it.

This quarter, I got to take VIS 60, Introduction to Digital Photography. I thought I would be bored, but it's so worth getting up for the 8am class. I've always known how to use aperture and ISO, but now I know what those are.

Our first project was about exploring the camera basics- most of which I am fairly familiar with. I wanted to not just shoot Geisel (which is beautiful in it's own respect), but venture outside of the UCSD bubble. When I finally found time to shoot, it was cold and rainy out.

In VIS 60, we studied this artist named Uta Barth, who shot only inside her house for 2 years (!!!). So I decided to shoot in my apartment. I set my camera on my shelf on interval mode, grabbed the honey, and pulled out my desk lamp. The honey was actually pretty nasty and it got all over my face, but it was the first time I had played with a concept in a controlled setting.

I think having restrictions (like weather, or a set ISO/aperture/shutter speed) is annoying at times. Project 1 was bothersome, especially when I just wanted to shoot. But it pushed me to be creative in different ways, to make my own scene instead of finding one.

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I don't usually go to the beach; maybe I'm just a jaded Californian. Beach is beach, right? But in the midst of the "storm," last Saturday offered 12 hours of sunshine, and I was antsy. I hit up the beach with my friend, Sarah, and we hiked down into sea foam that covered the ground like snow. This girl hopped into the water and the light was golden. It was all so perfect.

I can't believe how often I forget the beauty around me. With such a busy schedule, I get into a routine. I am efficient and productive, but I forget . A friend of mine told me that beauty exists because we have a beautiful Creator. I believe that. Sometimes, I feel like I'm stuck in the check boxes of my to-do list, and most times I don't watch the sunset. Yesterday, I was rushing to the gym and saw the sunset's pink light spilling onto the ground, and how could I not appreciate the beauty of my God?

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My friends call me Banana, but you can call me Hannah.

I am enamoured by the arts. I live with Bernard (pictured above), my baby, a Canon 80D, and a God bigger than everything. Also two super cool, super weird roommates.

Creativity has such potential to connect people, and this blog is my way of exploring it.

Buckle your seat belts. Here we go!


(photo credit to EMZO Photography)

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