Photography and Text by Lilibeth Montero, Copyright 2018
I didn’t want my images to portray the “traditional” or “typical” representation of love, despair, sadness or happiness. For happiness I did my best to have the model be graceful, carefree and at peace. I thought her laying on her back was a perfect representation of the happiness we get from doing simple things like sleeping, or sitting with friends. For love I didn’t want the image to represent love between couples, but love we have with ourselves and for friends to some extent. That is why the model is by herself, hugging herself. People typically prefer not to experience sadness or despair. People aim to be happy or in love that is why I placed love and happiness in the center of the image, and sadness and despair on the sides. For sadness I had the model turn her back, I feel it conveys a sense of hopelessness, because she is so tired of trying and nothing is right that she doesn’t even have the strength to look forward. For despair, I had the model lay on her knees and have her hands in her hair because I felt it conveyed a sense of frustration and looked similar to praying, suggesting her only hope at this point is a miracle from above.
In order to capture the most light in my image, I increased the shutter speed on my camera. I didn’t want to capture shadows; therefore, I had the model move away from the background. I used a studio, and no other props or objects because I wanted the model to be the most complex aspect of the portrait. I felt additional props would be distracting from the emotions being portrayed by the model.
In Photoshop, I made few edits to the model like removing blemishes, whitening her teeth and removing some frizz on her hair. I converted the pictures conveying sadness and despair to black and white in Photoshop using the color balance tool, because it helped add a more somber feeling to the images. I added red tones to the images of love and happiness to make the images feel warm.
About The Author: Lilibeth Montero is a freshman enrolled in the School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2021.