Nicole Loftus Photo Essay Professor Wolff
Introduction The holiday seems to approach very quickly, and just as quick as it comes, it goes right away. I wanted to capture and manipulate the holiday spirit. The first time I snapped a photo it was during the night. Unfortunately, the images did not capture what I wanted it t share. I went to Haddonfield to snap photos because the atmosphere seemed inviting. But I wasn’t satisfied. So I traveled to the Deptford mall, here the area was radiating with opportunities to capture a variety of moments.
I began taking pictures to show how positive the holidays can be, but I was still not excited about the way they
were coming out. Instead, I changed my approached and decided to show the negativity that it can bring out. I took the pictures in a “normal setting” then altered the pictures with color. By doing this, the thought began to take shape. I enjoyed taking pictures at different angles, even though had several onlookers staring at me. Since I was in a public place, I had to ask for permission to capture images in the mall. That was a bit of a hassle, security almost had to follow me around the store to ensure I was not taking photos with store names on them. That was more complicated then I thought because I had to get the right spot without manipulating the photo so much.
Growing up, I was always told asked to take Holiday photos. I would have to get dressed up for Santa Claus and
take family portraits. I hated that! Through the positive atmosphere, negative thoughts can be presented in ones mind and that is what I was trying to show in my essay. Some of the photos depict loneliness as well.
Analysis I choose to analyze this photo because it has many great aspects to it. While I was walking around the mall, I was trying capture moments that showed the holiday being negative. As seen, there is a line wrapped around the Christmas tree and a welcome sign to the right portion of the photo at the top. I noticed how unhappy the three children seemed, and then I noticed the woman standing behind them. I am uncertain whether the families are together but my her folded arms, I got feeling she was unhappy. Unhappy for so many reasons: standing in a long line, have to much shopping to complete and not enough time to complete it and so on. Juxtaposition immediately came to my mind. The holiday is supposed to be a joyous time with laughter and smiles. Not in this particular image, the children are unhappy and the woman does not look like she wants to be present in the mall anymore. The industrialization of Christmas has no longer become intriguing to others, and this pictures shows the negativity the holiday can upon us. Semiotics can be seen in this image. The welcoming sign invites individuals in to partake in capturing photos with Santa Claus, but because so many people have come to join the line, people become antsy and impatient. Since people become impatient, attitudes start to come out; hence the reason the lady is standing with her arms folded and a scow on her face. Also, I saw how the children have little enthusiasm to be taking a photo with Santa Claus, the little girls shoulders are dropped down instead of being up. She seems bored!
Choosing these particular images was rather difficult. I snapped many photos for the essay using an Iphone 4. I
tried very hard to remember to rules of composition: pattern, symmetry, texture, lines and depth of field. Then there comes the actual photo taking and how to capture the image within the grid lines. John Berger stated that photograph is art. That statement I must agree with. Before the adventure to the mall, I wrote down my thoughts of taking pictures and how I can use different levels to captivate my audience. Instead of using different angles,
I decided it was best to manipulate the image to something darker; darker because my essay is about the
negativity of the holiday. The more I fade or blur the edges and change the amount of saturation, the darker the picture will become. Therefore, I started to mess around with the various options in Picasa. Here I found the perfect color combination. Sepia mixed with lomo-‐ish. Lomo-‐ish is usually bright to show the vibrant colors, but paired with Sepia it can change the picture to appear a darker color. I wanted to keep the pictures consistent when it came to manipulation. I feel as though the consistency made it easier for the viewer to see the pictures. I decided not to show the bright colors because it did not represent what I was going for. I altered the area in which the picture was highlighted and soft focused on certain aspects of the photo to add more of a dramatic feel to it.
As I was going through the various photos that were captured, the subject appeared to always be in the center of
the photo. To me that made the photo less captivating for the audience, so I changed the way I viewed the subject. Susan Sontag once said: “ To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge-‐and therefore, is power.” The images are pieces of the world that do not need to be statements of events that occurred whether be happy or sad but somehow reality. A picture that is falsified can no longer be considered a piece of art.
As I read these articles, I wanted to make sure I captured appropriate moments. I was sitting down on a bench,
simply observing individuals past by, each one of them seemed such in a hurry to go somewhere. To capture those moments seemed important. So I took my Iphone 4 out and began snapping pictures quickly. There is a moment where I was sitting in front of the welcome sign and a man was almost running past me. How I captured that moment is beyond me. The semiotic: the holiday is quickly approaching and time is running out. The very last photo that I took happened to be when I was walking down the steps and my finger hit the button on the camera. Completely unintentional but depicted how it just zooms right past us, an honest photo.
“Photographs furnish evidence”. Evidence that be proven when a photograph is shown (Sontag). I wanted to
manipulate the viewer’s way of the holiday spirit by proving that it does not consist of joyous moments. For example,
there was a mailbox where children can send letters to “Santa Claus”. Somehow society believes it is fine to tell lies about factious characters and support their meanings. Santa Claus is, unfortunately, not real, he is a figment of imagination. So since he is not real, where do all the letters go, in the trash? When I saw this mailbox, I took a step back to analyze the situation. Growing up we are encouraged to share the truth, and lying gets a person nowhere. Well what about this lie, everyone goes along with. In the end, children’s hopes are given up because they will eventually find out the truth.
Usually excitement comes to mind when a person thinks about the holiday spirit. But as I was walking around
the mall in search for negativity, I myself started to feel less enthused about the holiday: all the money that would be spent, the crowds, crying children and so on. I noticed many people shopping by themselves as well as wandering around the mall with a partner to assist with decisions. I captured some of these moments because I was surprised to see how many “loners” there was, myself included. In the end, I wanted to capture images that were “out there” and not the typical posing and portraits. I feel as though there is more truth behind taking a candid photo.
Works Cited Berger, J. (1974). Understanding a photograph. In A. Trachetenberg (Ed.), Classic Essays on Photography (pp. 291 – 294). Leete’s Island Books: New Haven, CT. [pdf] Sontag, S. (1973, October 18). Photography. The New York review of books. Retrieved from http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1973/oct/18/photography/?pagination=false&printpage=true [PDF]