Category Archives: Popular Culture

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, Documentary, Environment, Photography, 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, Documentary, Environment, Men, Photography, UPenn, UPenn Photography

Noel Zheng: “Untitled (Jolie Laide)”


Photography and Text by Noel Zheng, Copyright 2017


“Untitled (Jolie Laide)” A short project to realize the empire of fashion.


The fashion industry sells to all types of lifestyles through their shoots. Entering fall/winter, every year, coats become the centre around which the industries uses as a medium to captivate the public, and give the idea that they too can live a similar life—given they have the material item.

I set this shoot up to reflect an editorial “vibe”; the black and white seamless with two soft boxes were set up in attempt to reap the most stripped back of editorial shoots. In post-production, saturation was muted but vibrancy increased to achieve the same effect.

In terms of styling, I stripped all elements back so only the coat (or some other winter wear) would be the centre of the shoot. The models wore little more than the outerwear in attempt to critic the fashion industry—when all is stripped back, is the lifestyle sold still worthy of buying? Or rather—when all is stripped back, is the coat sold still worthy of buying? The simplicity of this shoot hinges between avant-garde and classic.

But of course, this industry has become so powerful that a “stripped back” non- flamboyant lifestyle is, in ways, still avant-garde. It exemplifies a term now trending: “minimalism”. Because I realize that in attempt to mute the toxic environment of ‘fashion sells’, I add to it.

This is what I mean when I say “the fashion industry sells to all types of lifestyles through their shoots”—because no matter how ugly, or how simple, or how kitsch one tries to make fashion, it is still—as Tyra Banks says—“Jolie Laide”.


About The Author: Noel Zheng is a Sophomore majoring in Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Noel Zheng, go here


Also posted in Architecture, Blog, Environment, Fashion, Glamour, Men, Models, Photography, Portraiture, Student Life, UPenn Photography, Women

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, Documentary, Fashion, Men, Models, Photography, Portraiture, Student Life, UPenn Photography, Women

Ria Vaidya: Psychotic but Iconic


Photography and Text by Ria Vaidya, Copyright 2017




To be iconic is to be a symbol, and often with that symbol comes a streak of madness. From Karl Lagerfeld to Naomi Campbell to Kate Moss, being iconic has not always meant being perfectly in line with societal views. Some of the most iconic figures to date have not come without their baggage. This series aims to capture and illustrate a metaphor; this metaphor speaks for how clothes act not only as a style but also as a mask, in particular: the jacket. Jackets unlike other mainstream clothing items have the ability to add layers, or some might say extra façade. Throughout this series, the model modeled several different unique jackets that are very distinct from one another. Each piece could very well characterize completely different types of personalities yet the model executes each look thus portraying how fashion and style can change the perception of an individual. It can act as a barrier or as a gateway into their true self, regardless having the ability to create an identity for themselves. Fashion allows a person to camouflage into whatever and whomever they want. Inside they may be psychotic, but nonetheless, they can just as well be iconic.



Portrait of Ria Vaidya by Linda Ruan, Copyright 2017


About The Artist: Ria Vaidya is a Senior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2018. To access additional articles by Ria Vaidya, click here



Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Environment, Fashion, Glamour, Models, Photography, Portraiture, Student Life, UPenn Photography, Women