Category Archives: UPenn Photography

Amber Shi: Mix

 

Photography and Brand Concept by Amber Shi, Copyright 2018

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MIX

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When it comes to mix and match your clothes, there is no universal equation. The attraction of mixology lies in “clash beauty” where different elements of fashion, colors and styles are combined together to create a unique look. The brand concept revolves around several ideas, including “you are as beautiful as you are”, “bold and young”. In a world where conformity is widely pursued, being yourself and expressing yourself through your clothes becomes a bold but exciting idea.

Moreover, it doesn’t take a whole outfit to create this “clash look”. Even when you are wearing all black, adding some “pop pieces” can all of a sudden brighten up your whole outfit. Pop pieces are jewelry, scarves, belts, shoes, handbags or any small details that may represent your personality. Growing up in China, I was asked to wear the same uniform as everyone else to school every day. After coming to the States, I had more freedom to choose my own wardrobe and started to develop my own style. The most important aspect of “mix and match” is to be confident about yourself and be who you are. There is no standard of beauty of the choice of color when it comes to your personal brand, and you are as beautiful as you are.

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About The Author:  Amber Shi is a sophomore enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Amber Shi, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/amber-shi-erotica/

 

 

Also posted in Advertising, Art, Blog, Environment, Fashion, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, Women

Justina McMinn: Capturing Reality

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Photo: Justina McMinn

 

Photography and Text by Justina McMinn, Copyright 2018

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Book Review

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Susan Sontag: On Photography

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Capturing Reality

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Sontag makes many important points in her essays in On Photography. The first essay, however, really connected with me. In Plato’s Cave essentially says photography is a means for capturing reality. She talks about how a photograph is tangible, you can hold it, but you can not hold reality. Although, it is capturing reality, it is not capturing reality for what it is and the reason for capturing this “reality” can vary.

Sontag also argues a point that photography is a sort of false way of relating to the world because pictures can be so flawed and falsely interpreted. Sontag claims that like the Plato’s Cave allegory, when anyone looks at a photograph it is not always entirely true without explanation. She gives an example of the Farm Security Administration photographic project of the late 1930’s where they took dozens of frontal pictures of sharecropper subjects until the were satisfied that they have gotten the right look on film. They wanted a particular emotion provoked from the photo. Problematically, they imposed their own standards onto the subject.

This reminds me of the project we did in class where we had to use portraits to convey various emotions. We all had different standards of what grief, sadness, happiness, etc. look like hence why we all had different photos. I’m sure many of us imposed our standards for what the visual aspect of these emotions should look like and shot until satisfied that it was conveyed.

I think this is an interesting point about people imposing their standards because of people’s various perspectives each photo is interpreted differently and can’t promise the viewer is understanding the photographer’s truth. For example, the picture here for me, conveys sadness. Very often within the black community, we are taught to suppress our emotions and to display negative emotions like sadness, grief, hurt, and disappointment in a particular fashion. Others may view this photo as angry, calm, emotionless, flat. Many cultural norms play into people’s standards and I believe this is what makes art, photography in particular, nuanced.

Another key point Sontag made was that photography is evidence. Photography is a huge component in museums, text books, and scrap books to further prove beyond “he say, she say” that an event took place.

Looking at today’s social norms surrounding technology, I see this idea in fruition. Every vacation people seem to feel the need to take pictures and post them to prove they had fun and that the vacation happened. There is a saying that says, “Pictures or it never happened!” Our society has become so wrapped up in the social aspect of photography. It is used to document protests, social events, personal occasions, and more. However, I would say it is excessive.

I wonder where the line is drawn. People are starting to let photography intrude on intimate events and take away from thoroughly enjoying experiences. For example, more recently, at a funeral I saw someone take a picture of the person in the casket. For me, I think it was inappropriate. However, their thought process was the person finally looked peaceful and they wanted to document it forever. Another example is my recent vacation with friends. They spent more time taking pictures and finding locations with the only motivation to go being to take more pictures. The question for me is, is enjoying the moment in reality and depending on memory less fundamental than capturing the reality and documenting it forever?

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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 Justina McMinn, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/justina-mcminn-self/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Documentary, Environment, History, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, UPenn, Women

Jesse Halpern: The Bridge Between Beauty and Truth

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Trash Can

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Photography and Text by Jesse Halpern, Copyright 2018

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Book Review

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Susan Sontag: On Photography

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The Bridge Between Beauty and Truth

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My senior focus in my high school painting class was on objects that are under appreciated, things that we use daily that we do not really notice until we notice that they are not there. An outlet, or a trash can. I wanted to make these objects seem special though painting I could more easily doctor and manipulate the object to beautify. I could edit reality with painting to achieve what I wanted, something I did not think I could do with photography.

I took a gap year after high school. I went to Europe  on an art history trip with an Iphone. I had always been a luddite, never really liked technology or phones in highschool, but I wanted to document my trip, as Susan Sontag might suggest I did to prove that it happened, to have the visual evidence. Looking back through on my art history trip, the first shots were of details of places we went, untraditional angels. They were subpar photos with a few nice shots. It was entertaining so I kept taking pictures.

At Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, I Photographed a green trash can, something forgotten in the gardens. The interest in the overlooked was still with me from high school. The photos of the trash can were not interesting before editing. If I didn’t care about the subject matter I might not have even tried to edit it, but everything came together with editing when I used the noir filter and made a few minor adjustments with editing tools I didn’t fully understand yet. This moment brought about a realization that I could photography as another medium to glorify the underappreciated objects in our everyday life. It was a new medium to continue my senior thesis. I don’t think I had ever really taken a photo that I was proud of before this trash can. This was really the start of my surveying reality with a photographic eye. This is when I truly discovered the joys of photography. Phone in hand, I was on the hunt to find compositional elements that I associated with good pictures. Much like the photographer described as the surrealist in Susan Sontag’s On Photography, I now wanted to collect the world.

What compelled me the most reading Sontag  was the vastly different approaches photographers took I capturing people. Diane Arbus has a very frank manner showing the “ugly” or “deformed” but expressing in their character that they don’t see themselves. Sanders in Germany documenting people in different social classes as they are, unjudging. Walker Evans subway series, with a concealed camera and unaware viewers. Lersky’s everyday faces in 1931 finds beauty in faces of laborers. Such profoundly different truths all captured in people. Photography as described by Sontang bridges beauty and truth telling, and all these works are indicative of that. Each series showed me something about people, and each was beautiful.

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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:http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/jesse-halpern-porches-philadelphia/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Film, History, Photography, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life, UPenn

Yash Killa: Night Magic

 

Photography and Text by Yash Killa, Copyright 2018

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Night Magic

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I remember when I first found out that I would be studying at University of Pennsylvania. It was soon after when I searched up Google Images of Philadelphia and the UPenn campus having never seen it earlier. What I saw was a series of photographs of the Campus and city life – but all mostly during the day time. I didn’t realise this then, but after taking the Digital Photography course, I was able to understand why and draw parallels between this and most other assignments that were mainly centred around sunlight.

The Sun provides ambient lighting that not only requires a smaller ISO number, but allows a faster shutter speed, and thus providing a greater range for a good photograph in most cases. This is why I decided to test myself and explore something that was out of my comfort zone – I decided to photograph the Penn campus at night.

I feel that any place looks and feels completely different after the sun sets. The moon and stars bring a sense of calmness, beauty, and yet strangeness that is unparalleled. Google Images just shows the hustle-bustle and vibrant nature of the campus, but what I experienced while taking photos was a complete contrast to that. It is this what I wanted to bring out in my assignment, and I hope I was able to do that.

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About The Author: Yash Killa is a Freshman enrolled in the School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Yash Killa, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/yash-killa-propaganda/

 

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Contemporary Architecture, Documentary, Environment, Photography, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life

Matt Garber: A Picture is Worth 140 Characters

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Cut the Middleman

Photography, Text and Video by Matt Garber, Copyright 2018

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A Picture is Worth 140 Characters 

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Among the most important political developments of the last two decades is social media. With the proliferation of these tools, politicians and public figures are able to reach their audiences directly. This has caused a massive shift in political communication.

Instead of relying on print, radio, and television media to distribute messaging, public figures may use their own voices without any of the critical analysis provided by the media. This shift in communication has led to a shift in the communicators too. Former President Barack Obama has almost 90 million followers and Twitter, and President Donald Trump is widely known for his use of Twitter, not just for gaffes, but also as an effective tool.

With the recent accidental deletion of the President’s Twitter account, it makes sense to take a new retrospective look at the ways Twitter, and Donald Trump’s use of it in particular, has come to reshape American politics.

Prior to Twitter’s ubiquity, news was consumed either in person or through journalists. Even online, journalists would post stories on their websites. This afforded the populace a critical lens through which to view the events of the day. Even though media can be slanted to the left, right, or middle, its consumption through the filter of journalism provided people an accountable source for information.

Today, users of Twitter like the president can cut out the middle man. Donald Trump makes a point of undermining traditional news sources like his so called “FAILING New York Times.” Even if news media’s business is performing better, the way the public is receiving political communication is lacking the broad lens of journalists. Donald Trump has no need to appeal to his detractors because he can reach his supporters directly.

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No Filter

Twitter also has an immediacy. No longer is it necessary that all serious thoughts be developed into considered remarks to be given in an interview, speech, or press release. The bully pulpit has transitioned from a careful podium to an edgy smartphone. Few are better known that Trump for taking this to task in haphazard Twitter rants that invigorate his supporters and alienate most everyone else.

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Make Covfefe America Again

Perhaps he does carefully consider each character. Or perhaps not. It is impossible to analyze Donald Trump and Twitter without mentioning his May “covfefe” gaffe. When the president made a silly, Scrabble-word type typo, it sparked national news because of Twitter’s speed, permanence, and social vitality. However, providing insight to his character, Trump failed to simply laugh off the incident for what it was. Instead, he defended it and attempted to appear intentional. He failed to allow himself to be a normal Twitter user who could correct the Tweet and move on.

Perhaps he does carefully consider each character. Or perhaps not. It is impossible to analyze Donald Trump and Twitter without mentioning his May “covfefe” gaffe. When the president made a silly, Scrabble-word type typo, it sparked national news because of Twitter’s speed, permanence, and social vitality. However, providing insight to his character, Trump failed to simply laugh off the incident for what it was. Instead, he defended it and attempted to appear intentional. He failed to allow himself to be a normal Twitter user who could correct the Tweet and move on.

Short and Fat

Again, demonstrating his imperfection, Trump unleashed a classic Twitter insult earlier this month. “Why would Kim Jong-Un insult me by calling me old when I would never call him short and fat?” While hardly presidential, this tweet revealed again the childishness that Twitter allows us to see. Its immediacy again provides direct access to the character of the user, and this is magnified when that user is the leader of the free world.

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Flip Flop

The major difference between the casual Twitter user and the public figure is the consequential nature of their positions. If the average joe announces a change of mind through tweet (and a change back and then forth again), we likely move on.

However, social media once again magnifies the thoughts of the president. Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is no stranger to contradiction, but it can be particularly amusing when it marks an overt flip flop. Again, without the reigning in by aides and writers afforded by formal policy announcements, Twitter can reveal the worst of an individual.

The major difference between the casual Twitter user and the public figure is the consequential nature of their positions. If the average joe announces a change of mind through tweet (and a change back and then forth again), we likely move on. However, social media once again magnifies the thoughts of the president. Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is no stranger to contradiction, but it can be particularly amusing when it marks an overt flip flop. Again, without the reigning in by aides and writers afforded by formal policy announcements, Twitter can reveal the worst of an individual.

Policy in 140 Characters

Finally, we see a striking ability of social media to influence the policy of the nation. This is the real crux of the issue. The president can judge opinion by likes rather than polls. He can decide merit by retweets rather than analysis. The jury consists primarily of the people with whom Trump interacts online. This translates into actual policies affecting actual people. It is a broken system and one magnified by the personality of this president. If we do nothing to address it, it could mean that what is popular online is what counts on the books.

While amplified by the bombastic nature of our current President, this analysis by no means ends with Trump’s term. These ideas are welcomed and fostered by Twitter’s environment. The polarization it creates among our citizenry transcends one administration. Obama was the first Twitter President. Trump will likely be the president most remembered for his Twitter. But social media is not going away, and its effects in politics will live on.

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Regarding the photographs…

Each photograph in this article is an abstract illustration of the ideas at play. Social media is an abstract, simplifying process, so in representing it photographically, the challenge became, “How abstract and simple can this be made?” If a picture is worth a thousand words, but a tweet is merely 140 (or now 280) characters, then they are awfully dissimilar. So how far can we go to bridge that gap? That is the philosophy behind the photos.

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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 herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/matt-garber-doll/

 

Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, History, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, Video