Category Archives: Documentary

Matt Garber: Doll




Photography, Text and Video by Matt Garber, Copyright 2017




Still life is a place for juxtaposition. There is a place for strength, weakness, naturality, artificiality, beauty, and grotesqueness in every scene. For this photoset, these elements are incorporated.

In each exposure, the stones represent a material of strength. Stone is the medium for monuments and mountains alike. Sculpture has a long history using stone to create pieces lasting thousands of years, moving largely unchanged through time.

However, here, the stones are stacked ever so precariously. This implies a temporariness and a delicacy unusual for stone. It also emphasizes the time-capturing power of the photograph, as, despite being made of stone, these structures clearly cannot stick around very long.

Each photo is set in nature, on large rocks, beside a trickling stream with tiny waterfalls. And yet, each scene is manufactured unnaturally. The stone structures are too improbable to have occurred by chance, and the colorization of the stones highlights the ideas that they are out of place, yet in their natural place. And of course, there is the old baby doll, staring blankly, unnaturally, into the distance.

The baby doll is vintage, yet it has not grown up. It is weak, but clearly more permanent than the stone structures. It is provocative and perhaps grotesque in a natural environment. It is meant to pull the eye away from the rest of the scene, which is ironic in and of itself: how can a viewer continuously be drawn to the least beautiful part of every shot?

In several cases, the baby interacts with objects and ideas with which it has no business interacting. The old watch slung across its shoulder represents time that a baby shouldn’t have experienced. And the knife laying across its neck represents a pain, struggle, or death that should be well beyond the life experience of someone with suck a short life.

Each element of this piece forces a viewer to consider the reason for its existence because each element contrasts and conflicts with something else in the frame. This series is confusing and enticing at the same time.



About The Author: Matt Garber is a Freshman enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020.  To access additional articles by Matt Garber, click here


Also posted in Art, Blog, Environment, Photography, Science, UPenn Photography

Justine McMinn: Developmental Psychology


Photography, Text and Video by Justine McMinn, Copyright 2017




I am currently studying Developmental Psychology. My professor, as a Social Psychologist, often takes a social approach to development and the different aspects of life that play a role. I created still lives to symbolize the different stages of development.

In developmental psych from Piaget to Kohlberg there are many different theories as to what each stage encompasses. I wanted to create what these stage—infancy to adulthood, according to my perspective and experience look like. My stages may not be the same as the person I sit next to in class nor one of my siblings, which is interesting in itself, because so many life experiences, exposure, or lack thereof, influence the way we develop and see the world.

My first stage is childhood. I realize this stage is crucial to human development. This is when the brain is really being formed and interactions with objects and people are essential to the development. It is a stage of exploration of sensorimotor skills, communication, colors, and shapes. It is when relationships are formed with family, which can dictate the way the person socially interacts with the world for the rest of their life.

My second stage is about being a teenager. This stage varies a lot depending on the person, as well as what their childhood was like. For me, being a college student, this stage involved a lot of educational development. This is where you learn to think about other people, their experiences, cultures, and the world as something bigger than yourself. In addition to that, it is a period of exposure to things new and the exploration of identity.

The third stage is adulthood. This is where responsibilities kick in. Of course, there are responsibilities as a teenager and young adult but this is where legally and socially you are completely responsible for all your decisions. At this point, most people are already well established in their identity. I used the mail, newspaper and keys to show the various things adulthood encompasses: bills, money to pay rent, work, keeping up with current events, and the coffee to symbolize how tiring that can be, but the need to keep going. Hence, the sticky saying “I’ll be home late” to show how to keep up on these things, sometimes sacrifice is necessary and as an adult that’s a decision you have to make. 

My last stage is elderly/death. I used the picture to symbolize the memorialization of the dead. The dirt to symbolize the way as humans we deal with death and the dead by conducting funerals and different rituals, which also differ depending on the person’s beliefs or religion.

Sometimes different groups of people have experienced trauma or different events that make their development and stages of life look drastically different. Whether it be they experienced the responsibility of bills earlier in life because of not having familial support or have a disability and their basic communication skills are delayed. My hopes are that this doesn’t suggest there is one way of life and how it should occur but rather show what I have seen or hoped to have seen in the development of myself and the people around me.



About The Author: Justina McMinn is a Freshman enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2021. To access additional articles by Justine McMinn, click here


Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Environment, Photography, Popular Culture, Science, UPenn, UPenn Photography, Women

Jesse Halpern: Segmented Porches-What We Have on Display




Photography, Text and Video by Jesse Halpern, Copyright 2017




In my still life series, I chose to focus on a time where everything seems still, night time in residential neighborhoods in Philadelphia. When walking at night, most porches have doors light and not much else light up. But a few have adequate porch lighting, but those that do capture the intense light and dark of the materials and textures of the objects that decorate their porches.

I tried in my series to find such moments of chiaroscuro to show different elements that create the gateways to our homes. I wanted to show the different textures of these objects but I wanted my series to be unified, almost as if all the images could have originated at the same porch. This is a deception. Every image in this series comes from a different home and from three different nights. In order to create this sense of false unity I chose to forgo color, as the light fixtures on these different porches had very different color balances.

I wanted to emphasize texture. I created intense plays of darks and lights to emphasize the chipping of wood, the rusting of metal, the embroidered patterns on a couch, The imperfect yet smooth texture of a pumpkin.

I also wanted to reflect the cold harshness of being outside on a fall night. Black and white helped heighten the starkness of the light fixtures.

In every photo I wanted to focus on a different object, but to still capture the texture of the porch it was on. By not overlapping like object the photos have the effect I want, as if I am documenting one porch, as if everything could occupy the same space. In order to do so I used a fixed 85 mm lens and shot from a medium to close distance from the object. I was very conscious to include some identifiable feature of a porch, and I shot with the smallest aperture opening, an f stop of 22, to ensure the elements I wanted to include were rendered as clear as possible to show their texture.



About The Author: Jesse Halpern is a Sophomore enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Jesse Halpern, click here



Also posted in Architecture, Art, Blog, Environment, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, UPenn, UPenn Photography

Sharon Song: The Millenial Professional


Photography and Text by Sharon Song, Copyright 2017




Studies have found that Millennials exhibit a different set of professional values than previous generations. As Millennials enter the workforce, they seem to be less motivated by career advancement and more by personal values and aspirations. This new generation strives for lives that allow them to be their most authentic selves; ones that satisfy the ideals they’ve set for themselves. Interested in exploring this concept further, I decided to engage with the theme of “the millennial professional” for our second assignment.

In thinking about personal values and aspirations, I talked to the models about their career goals and how they may differ from their life goals. These models are all current seniors in Wharton, pursuing careers in finance, consulting, and technology. However, beyond just their careers, they seek fulfillment in other activities. Whether it may be going to the theater to enjoy a show or discovering a new artist at a concert downtown, these individuals define success in what they can accomplish and experience both in and out of the workplace.

This series of photographs aims to highlight the variety of layers, such as coats, jackets, and blazers, young professionals may wear for the multiplicity of functions they encounter every week. Each frame intends to convey both professional undertones and the unique styles and personalities of each millennial professional.



Portrait of Sharon Song by Karishma Sheth, Copyright 2017


About The Author: Sharon Song is a Senior enrolled in the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2018. To access additional articles by Sharon Song, click here


Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Fashion, Men, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, UPenn Photography, Women

Yash Killa: Patterns


Photography and Text by Yash Killa, Copyright 2017




So what makes a photograph pleasant to the eyes or stand out. Is it really subjective in nature, or is there science behind it?

This is what Fibonacci tries to answer using a very unique perspective. He theorizes that nature has its own numbering sequence – the Fibonacci number and the golden ratio. From the petals on a flower to the fractal-shaped snowflakes, everything around us has a mathematical background to it. Which is why, for this project, my theme is Repetitions around us. I have strived to create a series of photographs that focus on the recursions and reoccurrence of a similar structure or shape within the same area.

I have focused on structures and shapes that we see in our everyday lives. In the hustle and daily rush in the campus, one often misses the uniqueness and the beauty of the campus. Being a freshman – new to campus – the walks I took with my camera for this project seemed simply surreal and thought-provoking. There were things that I crossed everyday on my way to class, but never noticed. For example, the green colour stone walls of the College Hall perfectly lined up on top of each other linearly, or the humungous tree standing fully bloomed in the middle of the Quadrangle. It made me ponder about how self-involved we become sometimes and how we miss the subtle wonders around us that we take for granted in our lives.

When I was on the look out for patterns and repetitions in still life for the project, it made me further think about Fibonacci’s theory and to what extent is mathematics behind the level of one’s appreciation of a certain scenery or a photograph. This project made me realize that art can’t exist without science – they are codependent. Our tastes and our preferences have been developed over many experiences based on what we see around us, and what we see around us has some form of a mathematical relationship behind it (could be a different relation for different objects). And our likes and dislikes are then based upon the mathematical relationships which we prefer more as compared to those which we do not. Repetition and recursion for me signifies order in this chaos that we live in. This is why it appeals to me, and why I decided to materialise this fascination of mine through this project.



About The Author: Yash Killa is a Freshman enrolled in the School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2021.

Also posted in Architecture, Blog, Environment, Photography, Science, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography