Category: Uncategorized

Final Project: GayU

American University serves as an interesting case study of gay culture, as well as how gay culture fits into society overall. Openly gay individuals on campus are from different ethnic and geographic backgrounds, major in varying programs, participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, and hold diverse positions on campus. In America as a whole, this pattern remains true. Homosexuals are diverse in who they are and what they do. There is not an average “homosexual” or criteria for what makes a person “gay”. The sexuality of an individual is not an identifying factor, and does not have an affect on the content of their character. Hopefully with this recognition, the idea of “us” vs “them” can be further blurred as we recognize fellow citizens as fellow human beings.

An individual’s sexuality is not chosen, it is an ever existing piece of their overall identity. However, this common trait of sexuality does not mean that all homosexuals are the same. In fact, each gay individual is greatly diverse from their peers, and it is a disservice to America’s social values of equality and respect to make such a generalization. American University recognizes this diversity in all on campus communities and promotes such diversity. This benevolent social practice fosters a more positive community, which aims to eliminate the “us” vs “them” associations. This is something the wrest of the country, and the world, could emulate.


Critique of The Tree

I had the opportunity to see The Tree, a Franco-Australian film that tells the story of a family’s trials and tribulations following the unexpected death of the father. It is a film adaptation of the book Our Father Who Are in the Tree. The story follows a family of six (a mother, a father, and four children). There life seems to be that of the “average” family, comfortable living, basic necessities, everyone is happy until one day the father comes home and dies of a heart attack while driving the car. The car crashes into the families fig tree. Upon his death the entire family is distraught, but the mother (Dawn) in particular is made extremely depressed. She is unable to move, opting to stay in bed all day only to be short fused when her children call for her. Eventually the daughter (Simone) is climbing the tree and hears the voice of her father coming from the tree’s leaves. Simone shares this with her mother, bringing the two individuals closer with this shared secret. Their bond is then threatened when Dawn begins to have a relationship with her boss, George. George interjects himself in their lives, helping around the house (plumbing, basic repairs, etc). George comes to the conclusion that the tree must go as it is destroying the houses’ plumbing. As expected, Simone is furious and storms away. The house goes on to break a wall of the house at which Dawn calls for its removal. Simone protests this by climbing the tree, even after George arrives with a crew to take away the tree. As George goes up to get Simone, the girl only climbs higher threatening to jump. Dawn begins to freak out and demands George stop, he listens. Once he comes down Dawn says she never wants to see him again. Following this dramatic scene the house is destroyed by the tree following a storm. The family picks up and moves under the saying “life is long”, implying that they are only continuing their journey. Overall this film is a nice transition for someone looking to explore international films. Superficially it is a lot like American cinema, in terms of lighting, language (for the most part), angles, shots, character types, etc. When reexamined there are large differences in terms of cultural values, driving on different side of the road (somewhat superficial), vocabulary, and themes. This movie has heightened my interest for foreign cinema and I am hoping to go to another film before the festival ends.

The father was the family’s sole provider, leaving the mother (Dawn) alone to keep the family and house together. A rather large portion of this film focuses on the individual family members’ struggle with the death of the father. Simone’s path to acceptance is particularly interesting and is ultimately the set-up for the main story of the film. This eight-year old girl starts to believe that she can connect with her father through the tree, as if his soul has transferred from his old body to a new one. His voice is “spoken” through the leaves, and it must be absolutely silent for Simone to hear her father. It is this tree that serves as Simone’s point of origin and tranquility, returning to it when she becomes involved with conflicts with other people and family members.

The main tension displayed within the film is that between Dawn (the mother) and Simone as a result of Dawn taking on a new relationship. Prior to the relationship, Simone entrusted her mother with the secret of the tree. This helped to form a strong bond between mother and daughter, as well as help them both cope with the loss. The two of them enjoy spending time in the tree as a means of meditation and reflection. When Dawn gets a new job to help manage the family’s finances, she becomes romantically involved with her boss, George. He is a plumber that Dawn then utilizes to help with a pipe problem at the home, caused by the tree.

The relationship between Dawn and George continues to grow and deepen, going so far as to merge their two families for Christmas at the beach. When they return from their vacation, they realize that the tree has grown much like their relationship. The branches of the tree have crashed through the house; breaking windows, wrapping around pipes, grasping columns, etc. This monstrous growth pushes Dawn to act in the name of its removal, asking George to do it. One day George brings a large group of men to the house in an effort to eliminate the inconvenience that is the tree. At this sight, Simone scurries up her new temple in protest. George follows her on a ladder, demanding that she come down and Dawn controlling her daughter. Simone then threatens to jump, which pushes Dawn to recall George. At first George is hesitant to listen, but eventually succumbs to Dawn’s demand. Once he reaches the ground, Dawn ends their relationship.

Following a massive cyclone, the house is destroyed as a result of the tree. The family packs what they can into a car, setting off to continue living their lives.

At one point Dawn remarks that “life is long”, which helped to illuminate an underlying theme of life as a journey filled with struggles one must endure. In the case of this family it is the death of their father, the destruction of their family like that of their house, and an uncertainty as to where to go from here. The family endures and ultimately comes out better for it, moving on to the next step of their lives.

A minor theme is the idea of the father main structure (tree) and patriarch of the family. Once the father dies, the loss of this figure disrupts the entire family, causing massive emotional chaos. However, the family must reorganize and cope with the loss in order to continue to exist. Although they start off broken, they move to be a puzzle more pieced together. It is this growth that provides the underlying strength that will serve them all in the future. In some regards, this theme is reinforced by the underlying spirituality within the film; the transferring of souls, talk of the afterlife, etc.

The struggles, dialogue, and humanistic reactions allow for the audience to identify with the film, helping to establish its believability and foster the overarching emotional context. The fantasy-esque ideal of the father becoming the tree is more of  a means of symbolism and an 8 year old’s imagination. If anything it is this fanatical idea that makes the movie more “real” by establishing a more realistic emotion and presenting common themes of family.

However, the script is somewhat superficial and at times the acting was less then what could be hoped for.  There were scenes where dialogue was overly predictable or too much/little emotion was put into the dialogue. The best acting tended to come from the younger cast members, as for their older castmates—their acting made this film seem more of a straight-to-DVD-like film. What helped to keep the emotion of the movie alive and strong was the use of certain lighting techniques as well as wonderful music choices. These two dynamics built an stronghold of emotion. Unfortunatly, I don’t think I was ever entirely captivated by the film. It is not that I didn’t identify with the emotions, struggles, or characters, rather the acting made parts unbelievable.

I would recommend this movie to film-critics as well as the average viewer looking to watch something not in their usual forte. It is a nice balance of generic cinematic qualities as well as some new ones.

Film Project, The Red Balloon and I:

Movie Poster:

Production Still:

Final Project Proposal:

Final Project Proposal

The Red Balloon


The story begins with a lonely balloon, moseying around inside a college building. The balloon is desperately searching for a friend because it no longer wants to be alone. It sees some people in the building, but none of them seem friendly. Suddenly, the balloon is found and “adopted” by a sweet little girl with pigtails. The balloon becomes a toy for the girl, and also a companion. The balloon is truly happy to have been “adopted” and to be going on adventures with the girl in the building. The balloon becomes very attached to the little girl and stays tied to her arm at all times; they become close friends and do everything together. The girl skips outside with the balloon, leaving the building, and suddenly a gust of wind takes the balloon from the girl’s arm. The balloon is saddened for a while at the idea of leaving the girl, and the girl is saddened as well. The girl stands in silence for a moment, thinking about the friend she lost. It does not take her long, however, to find a new toy to occupy herself with. The separation has a greater affect on the balloon, however. After being separated from the girl, the balloon looks around at the large college campus, unsure what to do at first. It does not know how to be apart from its friend. But then the balloon realizes that it is now a free bird able to drift away as it pleases. Furthermore, the balloon is drifting to new adventures, new sights, and a new life. It is seeing the world for the first time alone, and this is a liberating act for the balloon. After having all of these experiences, the balloon realizes that something is still missing: a companion, a friend. As the balloon is floating, it finds a second balloon (of a different color) sitting on the steps of a new building. They become best friends, and float off into the sky in companionship. This short story portrays the idea of renewal and independence, for the balloon had renewed itself and found happiness in its independence, and found a life companion after first finding itself.

Shot List:

shot list

Story Board:




Production Stills:


Lumiere Critique

The process of filming a Lumiere was quit difficult for me. I think of art as an outlet for very personal forms of expression and the lumiere style lacks a certain ability to do so. It would have been much easier to make a better minute long clip if I was able to film for a long period of time and piece together parts of longer threads. Instead, I had to force my subject to do more continual actions in order to fill the scene. In some sense this is a form of my personal expression and makes the lumiere less “natural” but I wanted to have enough of my subject in motion. If i were to do it again, I would buy a traveling tripod in order to stabilize my shot better and take my camera with me more places and just leave it recording and witness what it captures. Some of the better scenes in class were those which were spontaneous and captured something unexpected. My lumiere was a bit more constructed and planned. I wanted to film natural settings, such as a scene where the camera is dynamically placed within trees and captures nature in life (birds moving about ,leafs falling, etc). My other plan was to find a beauty in the “unnatural” urbanization that is prominent in DC by filming traffic from a high elevation to show how the movement of cars is almost like a play or work of art. Unfortunately I was unable to do so and ended up filming a friend smoking a cigarette.

Critique of others- The Child Performer

What did you or didn’t you like about it? What ‘mood’ did it have? How was this mood achieved? What was it about the film that worked?  What didn’t work?  How could they have improved the film?

This lumiere seemed very natural in its existence. The video didnt appear to be edited for color or balance as the sunlight permeating from the back naturally lit up the shots. A dynamic shot was created from the framing of other people/objects around the child helping to maintain the viewers focus on the child rather then wander off. In terms of mood, this lumiere is very positive and happy. The angle at which the camera was placed had a nice balance of the sunlight which gave the positive feel as did the actual subject- a child. The fact that the camera didnt zoom into the child also kept the video true to the lumiere style rather then contemporary modes of filming. Overall, the video was light, entertaining, and very natural. It capture an oddity in every day life. The video wasnt something that seem scripted, it was moree of filming a natural view and something interesting luckily being captured. I thought that this lumiere was one of the best in class as it stayed true to the Manifesto, yet had a contemporary feel and entertaining subject matter.

What is Fantasy?

Fantasy films are mythical/magical and usually involve events or situations that are unlikely in the real world. Thus they rely on the imagination or individual’s fantasy and seek to fulfill them. The characters are generally eccentric, odd phenomena occurs, and sometimes journeys that the characters set out on. Like many other genres, fantasy has the ability to overlap into the realm of other film genres such as science fiction, comedy, romance, horror, war, westerns, etc (Wikipedia). The fantasy genre is heavily used when the target audience is children, being that children generally enjoy fantasy and magic more then that of serious films that are more intricate or touch base with “heavy” subjects.

Early fantasy films focused on the future and the developments that were possible. As the genre developed, stories of childhood heros or characters from literature were integrated into films. There were instances of film series based on comic book characters such as Flash Gordon. At one point a musical style of fantasy was developed like that of the Wizard of Oz. British director Michael Powell’s and writer Emeric Pressburger brought the world the sub-genre of romantic fantasy in their film Stairway to Heaven. The genre continued to develop simultaneously wit hthe progression of visual effects (usually when literary works were made into films) such as the instance of The Time Machine. As visuals progressed so did the story-type of fantasy films. The world witnessed for imaginative worlds developed in films or a change in time (traveling back in time or forwards). In contemporary cinematic fantasies, there has been a rise in animation with the development of computer imaging software (i.e. The Chronicles of Narnia).

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium -( Fantasy, Family, Comedy)

It’s Not Just A Cube:

In Mr.Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Molly Mahoney discovers realizes that she is having an identity crisis. Mahoney grew up being a musical prodigy that everyone believed would go on to play in the most famous of concert halls. However, fast forward to her current situation and she is the manager at a toy store owned by a man she’s know her entire life, Mr.Magorium. Magorium is over 200 years old and has decide he is going to “depart”, leaving the toy store to Molly Mahoney. This news pushes Mahoney over the edge in her crisis for self-discovery as the stress seems to be overwhelming. As this happens, Magroium gives Mahoney a congrieve cube stating that “unlikely tools call for unlikely adventures”. Molly struggles to find the meaning of those words and purpose of the cube until after Magorium’s departure when she is about to sell the store. At this point she realizes the cube was a symbol of belief- it has a purpose so long as one believes it does. This is relative to Mahoney’s situation because if she only believes in herself she will be able to succeed in the endeavor of life.

This seen is dark because Magroium has left, the store (which is alive) has thrown a “temper tantrum:” and has decided to give up on itself). Molly Mahoney is deciding on possibly selling the store. The light is focused on Mahoney as the scene’s main focus is her and the development of her inner struggle (Part 2). The camera itself is zoomed in on Mahoney as she is the main subject of the scene.   The light permeating through the door the accoutnant is entering through provide a symbolism of the accountant’s role in Mahoney’s discovery. As he walks in the camera zooms out to have both of the subjects in the shot. The accountant is an individual with no belief in the extraordinary or potentially impossible, he is usually plain and boring but in this instance he has warmed up to the idea of faith in the unknown. The light remains only on the accountant (“mutant”) and Mahoney as their conversation is the key to summation of the movie and the true meaning to Mahoney’s journey. The camera alternates between closeups of each individual to display the development of their thought processes as the conversation becomes more deep and “raw” (Part 2).  Through the explanation of the store to the mutant, Mahoney realizes what it is that she needs to find herself- belief. In essence, she had the answer and the ability inside her the entire time it was only a matter of realizing it.  The music is uplifting and inspiring to show how Mahoney, a piano player, found the music inside of herself and let her inner light show. As such the store starts to become a little less dark to hint at the idea that things are improving.The camera now encompasses a large portion of the toy store to show that the there is more light in the building as there is now more hope and belief in the mutant and Mahoney (more of disbelief for the mutant).

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory- (Fantasy, Family)

Scary Tunnel:

In the scary tunnel scene of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory, the children and Wonka have just come from the wonderful candy garden. The scene is transitioning from one that was positive, happy, and magical to one of apprehension and fear. The music starts of light and cheery as the boat begins to glide through the chocolate river. The camera zooms in as each individual speaks or holds in individuals that will later comment on a previous comment. The music then changes to a jaws like suspense/thriller. The camera shots quickly alternate between shots of different people, the boat, lights, darkness, Wonka, etc.  The characters are speaking quickly and everything seems to be one jumbled sound. Wonka begins to sing a song about not knowing where they are going or what is happening, fitting to their current situation. Like his personality, Wonka’s clothing is eccentric. This fits the persona that is pivotal to the entire movie, both in terms of plot and genre. He wears a purple jacket, yellow shirt, interesting top hat, has eccentric hair, and carries around a cane. This costume projects an abnormal wardrobe that is fitting for a fantasy movie and helps to be more of a kid friendly tone (Intro PDF). However, it also helps to signify his oddity of a personality. Towards the end of Wonka’s song, Wonka’s voice gets more intense and frightening as the darkness around the boat seems to grow. Suddenly the entire area is illuminated, everyone is calm, and the boat is safely at its next destination.

Pitch- ANew Life For A Balloon

The story would follow a balloon as it goes from its creation (birth into the world), until it is disposed only to find a new life. The story would start off with the balloon being filled/blown up with helium. As it is then “adopted” by an individual who takes the balloon with them. The balloon could then serve as a decoration for a gathering or simply a toy for a child. As a means of displaying emotion of the balloon and the scene, we could use several balloons and draw faces on them. This way the balloons happiness can be displayed at its adoption and its adventures with the child. The story would continue with the balloon staying tied to the child showing its attachment and purpose. As the child experiences adventures or plays the balloon is always there with him/her as a friend. Eventually the balloon comes untied from the child’s arm and floats away. The balloon is sad for a good portion of time at the idea of leaving the child. However, the balloon eventually realizes that it is now a free bird able to drift away as it pleased. Furthermore, the balloon is drifting to new adventures, new sights, and a new life. Being that we are in DC it would be nice to take advantage of some of the sights we have near us as a means of displaying this in the final scene. This short story portrays the idea of renewal and independence, for the balloon had renewed itself and found happiness in its independence.

In my own opinion a deep, raw, and personal narrative is more captivating then empirical data in any fashion. Capturing somethign as it truly is and bringing it to the screen through film makes the subject matter more accessible to the viewers. Audiences are able to grasp the content without prior education on the subject as a result of the fact that the are human. This innate connection is exploited through Lumieres and realism, and gives credit and time to topics that might not otherwise received “light”. For instance, in Waiting For Superman the raw emotions capture in the faces of the parents and children during the lottery as to which school the children will be going to, grasp at the hearts of the viewers. Although Waiting For Superman is not a Lumiere, it is a documentary which is a development of the style.
However, there are benefits to adapting the view of the “eye” by means of the camera.
Its not only a matter of capturing subjects that have yet to receive light, its about shedding new light on older subjects as well. This means changing the view, either through new narratives ,new depictions, or a new angle. The Lumiere Manifesto describes in-camera and post film editing as harmful to the audience and content. Yet, I see such techniques as zooming, cutting, etc. as means of emphasizing certain aspects of a piece so that the audience focuses on what is truly important. Also, each artist/director tends to have their own style that separates them from the group. By adding a personal “flavor” to a piece of work it not only separates the director but the content and helps to give it focus by making it interesting. Again, although it is not a Lumiere, David Gugenheim gives a specific form to Waiting For Superman. Although I may not fully agree with every point made in the film, the director takes a certain angle to his argument and builds it through his filming techniques. Through his angles when interviewing, music, graphics, edit, organization, etc. he creates a conversation or narrative on the topic of the American education system.
In regards to altering original pieces, he Manifesto states,”At best, we display an edited view of our worlds. At worst, we destroy important viewpoints through unnecessary editing.”  This quotes helps display the “grey” area between the “black” and “white” of filming and editing. Therefore, I believe the most important issue is drawing the line between an “edited view” of the world and “destroying important viewpoints”.  By creating a code of ethics or norms of artistic activity, filmmakers can help to keep the original meaning of a work (not necessarily the original work itself) while also helping to separate it from other work with a special “flavor”. In creating a boundaries, artists are free to take on the world as they see it, give new light to old subjects, form new conversations, all the while keeping the content “raw” to some extent.The Salisbury reading shows realism as a definitive genre stating, “Realistic films that try to show the world as it actually is, and Fiction/fantasy films that try to present the artist’s imaginative view of the world in an entertaining manner” (Realism). However,  taking a piece of the world and showing it with artistic edits doesnt make the content fantasy. Artistic techniques make the content more approachable and enjoyable to an audience. In a Digital Age characterized by an audience with short attention spans, and grasping for instant gratification, making content more interesting is vital to making the piece seen by more people.

My Photoessay Melted Into One


Photo Manipulation In the Media

The concept of photo manipulation is not inherently malicious or harmful to the viewer/society. Although there are instance where companies or artists have manipulated images in order to create a lie, there are more benevolent uses for editing. There is an artistic value to the manipulation of photos, as it can help unify the overall theme or message of the photo/s. For instance, when the Economist published an edition with Barack Obama on the cover during the BP oil spill crisis, they removed two individuals from the photo and left only the president and an oil rig in the frame (Can you believe your eyes?). The reasoning behind this was for the viewers focus to be Obama. In this instance of manipulation there wasnt an inherent “lie”, there wasnt a false story created. Rather, this form of photographic framing sharpened the purpose of the image, the article contained within the edition, and potentially the magazine itself.

Jean Kilbourne is a dominant voice on the negative effects of advertising on society. She has been quoted saying, “The problem with advertising isn’t that it creates artificial needs, but that it exploits our very real and human desires. Advertising promotes a bankrupt concept of relationship. Most of us yearn for committed relationships that will last. We are not stupid: we know that buying a certain brand of cereal won’t bring us one inch closer to that goal. But we are surrounded by advertising that yokes our needs with products and promises us that things will deliver what in fact they never can. In the world of advertising, lovers are things and things are lovers” (Jesus is a brand of jeans). When the examples Kilbourne gives are closely examined, one can recognize a correlation between the increased use of photo manipulation and the increase in the negative effects she refers to. As photos are manipulated to serve the interest of profit driven corporations, we see the association between products and human beings. There is a subliminal message that our peers are simply products. In particular, women are being depicted negatively and in contemporary ads are THE product.

(Jesus is a brand of jeans-

In the photo above the woman and the product are one. Individuals like Kilbourne immediately recognize the adverse effects such ads have on equality in society. By depicting women as products it seems as if advertisers (and potentially society) view woman as something other then human, they are products not equal to their male counterparts. This is entirely unethical and degrading to both women and the human condition. Viewing any individual as a product only hurts the meaning of humanity and the quality of life for all. There has been a shift in contemporary ads towards an equality of men and women, but this equality is in the wrong direction. Now, men are even being depcited as products. This is not the equality Kilbourne, nor any other equality advocate is fighting for. There must be a standard, a high standard to which society holds advertisers and those who work with photographs.

(“Are we coerced into gender roles by media and advertising?”,

The practice of photo manipulation is not by itself wrong or corrupt. There are artistic and benevolent benefits to editing a piece of work. The negative side of manipulation comes up when the motives behind such action are more “dark”, such as advertising. However, I would even argue that manipulation used in advertising is not inherently wrong; editing the lighting or contrast of an image only makes something more visually appealing. What I take issue with are the more unethical practices of manipulation; infusing individuals and products, slimming down models, changing the ethnicity of individuals depicted, etc. These actions send a visual signal that individuals are not “good enough” in their natural state. By creating a false reality of visuals, such as thinning down models, the world is falsely presented. Those wo view the photo then see themselves as “against the grain” and in need of change. Yet the truth is they are most likely average or normal and by extension beautiful.

In order to stop this downward slope of standards and view of humans as products, there must be a code of ethics for advertisers and those that work with photographs. Rather then just a code of ethics, it appears that there needs to be a constitution of photo manipulation, guiding principals by which all who function within the realm of the arts must follow.

There are times where both society and individual females fail to recognize the beauty of a woman. Modern media outlets have created an image of women that measures “beauty” through superficial means- bone structure, weight, height, hair color, clothing, perfect teeth, etc. The danger in measurements of this nature is that it lacks true significance. It leads to a pattern of women everywhere failing to recognize the queens within themselves. They are the monarchs of their own lives, destined to govern over their destiny through their true beauty, if they can unlock it. This may be through dancing, signing, political activity, or studying foreign cultures, but no matter what method of rule one takes, they must still recognize that they are beautiful. It isnt about looks, it is about being who you are. It is embracing your womanhood for what it is.


Hilary Morrow ’14, CAS

If one were to see Hilary walking along the quad, they would see her southern style blue jeans, Vera Bradley book-bag, converse All-stars, and dirty blonde hair. What fails to be recognized by superficial glances are her amazing pipes and dynamic acting skills. This woman is a triple threat; sings, dances, and acts. Hilary is majoring in Musical Theatre with only a slight clue as to what she wants to do post-graduation. Still, this wonderful woman is more then a balanced soul, she is a beautiful creation gifted to earth.


Aubrey Rose ’14, SIS

Aubrey is a multifaceted spirit that seems to have more layers as one continues to peel through her personality. On Monday night you may catch her watching Gossip Girl, only to follow with a law and justice text book or collection of poetry. Shes not only able to argue for the balance of justice but can balance her body. As a newly discovered ballerina, Aubrey has developed a talent for molding the natural line of her body. As she molds words to fit a page for the perfect stanza, she creates a poetic beauty to her body. If an individual were to neglect learning more about Aubrey, they would only see her high heels or Urban Outfitters wardrobe, a crime within itself. The silhouette that is her soul is a perfection that permeates through her skin. Her smile lights up a room and ultimately her “kingdom”.


Dayna Hansberger ’14, SIS

Dayna is a Freshman studying international relations. She has a deep love for indie music, the French language, English (England) culture, and Glee. When she isnt spending her time exercising, taking photos, or eating, she is busy studying. Dayna has a strong motivation for academic pursuits, whether it be continuing her knowledge of the French Language, reading an International Relations theory paper, or a classical piece of literature. Like a lot of American youth of the Digital Age, Dayna tends to multitask by listening to music while studying/doing homework, or reading while exercising. She is consistently busy completing a new task or formulating new goals. It isnt Dayna’s soft skin tone, flowing chocolate hair, or model-like figure that defines her beauty. It is her ever present motivation to remain an active student and further her intellectual horizons.


Katrina Potts ’14, SIS

Katrina was born in Wisconsin but soon moved to Chicago, Illinois. Before High School she volunteered for Barack Obama’s Senate Campaign, which he would go on to win. Later that year she moved to Georgia. It is at this point that the development of what most know as Katrina originated. Those that are friends with Katrina know that she speaks Russian, German, and Spanish. She has a deep rooted love for all things European but Germany in particular. Following her year in Georgia, Katrina returned to the services of Barack Obama and volunteered for his Presidential campaign. Only a few months before Obama’s victory Katrina moved to Germany. However, beyond the culturally immersed Katrina this photo captures another side of the woman, her softer side. Katrina has a smile that lights up any room she enters, and a laughter that mirrors that of children on Christmas morning. Her innocence shines through any dialect of any language she is currently speaking.


Kate Froelich ’14, KSB

If one were to separate Kate into two parts there would be the “soft” side and the more “rough” side. On the “soft” side is her elegant way of dress, flowing hair, twinkling eyes, and cheerleading uniform. On the “rough” side, there is a Kate with a fanatical love for Reagan, football (the Ravens in particular), and her practice of dead arms and noogies to her friends that disagree with her view of a sports team. It is not an uncommon occurrence to be forced to dodge Nerf bullets when passing by Kate’s room, a daily happenstance for the residence of Letts Six South. Regardless of sides, there is only one Kate. This individual has a depth capacity for love, and never ending energy for life.


Aditi Harsh ’14, SIS

Aditi is an Indian-American that hails from Tennessee. She is studying International Relations but hopes to double major in Broadcast Journalism so that she can enter into the field of television production and news. She writes for the Eagle and works for ATV. She has a deep love for UGGs and her NorthFace jacket. But beyond her clothing and career aspirations, Aditi holds dear to her heart her Indian Heritage. She shares traditions, experiences, and her own knowledge with friends to help immerse them in an undiscovered culture. This energizer bunny balances a sorority, school work, staying active in extracurriculars, and staying true to her heritage each and every day.


Anna Sebastian ’14, SIS

Anna is an exhaustingly active political enthusiast. She leans so far to the left that any more over and shed fall off the “cliff” of political ideology. In particular, one issue that Ms.Sebastian is a tireless advocate for is gay rights.Whether it is the rainbow flag in her room, the gay friendly buttons on her book-bag, protesting, or vocalization of opinion, Anna is working for something that goes beyond herself. As a straight woman she is fighting for the rights of her fellow citizens, male and female. This consistent action and drive for change radiates from the aura of Anna. The positive essence that comes from within is almost blinding to those around her. Still, simple glances would not do this soul justice in her pursuits for change. Her beauty goes beyond what the eye is able to capture.


The women photographed above are all extremely diverse, yet they have something vital in common- they are woman. As gifts to Earth these individuals present various talents and identities that add to the wealth of diversity on this globe. Maybe not these women but females in society tend to forget how beautiful they really are. This is a result of ads presenting women as products; perfect body figures, hair, nails, teeth, and smile. These ads present these superficial qualities as the measurement of beauty and perfection. In reality, these qualities are actually a measure of the poverty of beauty. Superficial beauty does not contribute anything to society, but personality, interests, and talents do. The diverse abilities of the women photographed above are only a small display of the wonders the feminine mystique holds. What must be remembered is that women are beautiful for what they are- inside and out. The photographs that capture a glimpse of these women does not even begin to describe the depth of their beauty. It would take a novel to contain every fact that makes each individual what she is. The fact still remains that these queens are sovereign of the land of their lives. They maintain their legitmacy through their womanhood.

Grand Prize Winner

Young monks from Myanmar
Kyaw Kyaw Winn (Yangon, Myanmar)
Photographed April 2007, Bagan, Myanmar

“Winn traveled north from his home in Yangon to the countryside of old Bagan to capture this image of young Buddhist monks in the Shwesandaw Temple. “I found them lighting candles and praying,” Winn says. “You can see monks everywhere in Myanmar.”

This photo has moderate depth. It is more then just a subject up close, yet its depth ends at the wall. There is an intricacy of lines within this photo from the face of the statue, the table holding the candles,  the candles themselves, to the detailed engravings on the walls. These lines are in different direction but do not distract from the beauty of the picture but rather help to create unity. The monks are in motion, lighting each candle. These creates a mood of a somber nature, full of reflection and meditation. The one monk is off center which makes for a more dynamic picture. The face of the statue falls on a line of the rule of thirds, adding to the dynamism of the picture. The lighting is very natural. However, this lighting is not throughout the picture, its strength varies depending upon the distance from the candles. The monks are lighting the candles, and are also the focus of the photo thus the light emphasizes them.


People Category Winner

Newsstand salesman
Csaba Meszaros (Budapest, Hungary)
Photographed February 2009, Budapest, Hungary

“Meszaros remembers when people would line up at newsstands, and for him this photograph, sadly, is a sign of the times”. “Nowadays,” he says, “electronic media is more important and interest in print media is falling. The news agent has enough free time to read what he is offering. Twenty years ago, this was unthinkable.”

The subject contained within this photo appears to be “framed” by the lines of the magazines. This shallow depth of focus keeps the entire photo at an equal depth.  The actual subject is almost lying on the intersection of lines. As for lighting, it appears to be coming from an angle, directly above. This light illuminates the entire photo but sheds ample light on the subject. The beauty of this photo is in its ability to display a development of the Digital Age. Technology, more importantly media technology is going digital. Mediums are becoming multi-platform and in some fashion converged. The business model of print media is changing, some survive and others do not. One manner of survival is for print to go digital and be “published” through apps on the iPad.

The Natural World Category

Hidden frog
Laurie McAndish King (Novato, CA)
Photographed September 2009, Mendocino, CA

King was experimenting with a new camera in a local Mendocino County garden when a frog paused for a moment on the leaves of a nearby plant. She snapped; it hopped. “I’ve gone halfway around the world looking for new experiences,” she says. “This photo will always remind me of the beauty in my own backyard.”

This picture is has a relatively shallow depth in order to maintain focus on the animal and the plant. The lines within the photo, created by the plant, bring more attention to the frog. These objects are the focus of the picture because of their coloring and beauty in the “backyard” of the artist.  There is no movement, but this emphasizes a “peace” within nature, or in the natural essence.  The angle of the shot gives the picture a dynamic essence that a more straight-balanced shot would not allow for.  The lighting of the photo is very natural, fitting with the principal of the photo as a display of nature. I think the principal behind this photograph is what makes it so beautiful- there is beauty next to us, if only we took the time to recognize it. We live in a lovely world, a “snapping” a photo takes a piece of the world into our hands and gives it the recognition that it deserves.  The beauty is not always a plane ride away, but potentially a few steps. In some sense, the photographer is capturing her “unexpected”, illuminating individual ignorance of our surroundings.

American Category Winner

A group of young Mennonite women at the scenic overlook
Debra Vanderlaan (Lake Worth, FL)
Photographed June 2009, Smoky Mountains National Park

Even though she owns a more sophisticated camera, Vanderlaan had only a point-and-shoot model on hand when she came upon this scene. Fortunately. “If I had to attach a camera lens or manually focus a more complex camera,” she says, “I would have missed this shot completely.”

There is moderate depth of focus on this photo. Although the main focus is the Mennonite women, you can still see some distance beyond them, something relevant to the location (an overlook). The women create a horizontal line that shows a tranquility in the picture. This is consistent with the time of day and lighting of the photo. It is naturally lit by the sun, which appears to either be setting or somewhat covered by the haze. The women as a group cross through compositional lines and two of them somewhat lie on lines.An interesting principal of this photo is the traditional feel to it, something that is consistent with the method of capturing the photo- a point and shoot versus a Digital SLR or other sophisticated and modern camera.

Travel Category Winner

Yulong river
Bernardo Medina (Houston, TX)
Photographed October 2007, China

“The Karst hills of the Guangzi Province in China filled my head with wonder,” says Medina. “I stood there lost in the atmosphere, looking upon a primitive landscape with uncommon beauty while quiet words repeated endlessly in my mind: we are just passing travelers on this old earth.”

This photo has a rather large depth of focus. There is a dynamic essence to the depth because of the bamboo raft that flows into to picture. It is this line that the viewer follows into the rest of the picture. Another vital line to this image and its intended meaning is the horizontal one created by the raft passing through the picture. It is traveling across the water, as we are “travelers” on the Earth. The raft crosses through an intersection of compositional lines. As for the lighting, it is entirely natural from the sun. This illuminates the entire subject, poetically and physically the entire Earth. As a result of the location there is an ability for ample natural lighting, a tranquil feeling radiating from the scene, and a color composition that appears to be natural.

Reader’s Choice Winner

The nomads of Tagong
Conway Liao (Brooklyn, NY)
Photographed June 2009, Kham, Tibet

“I spent two days with the nomads of Tagong in Sichuan Province, China,” Liao recalls. “There was no running water, and we ate wild greens and fungi gathered from the fields. It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had, and this photograph reminds me of how simple and happy life can be.”

There is a shallow depth of focus in this photo. The depth of the photo itself is limited because of the covering that the nomads are existing under. Some of the nomads fall on a line of composition. There is a lack of lighting, however there is a small amount coming in from the cracks in the covering.

Altered Image Winner

Martin Alejandro Bordagaray (Concordia, Argentina)
Photographed September 2008, Salto, Uruguay

“Bordagaray was coming home from a photography excursion in Salto, Uruguay, when he spotted a sheep on a hill. “I stopped my car,” he recalls, “grabbed my camera and silently moved toward it, trying not to scare it.” The animal stood in the sunset light long enough for him to take this image, to which he added clouds and contrast.”

There is shallow depth of focus in this photo. The viewers eye is limited to focus on the sheep and a very small amount of the background. The diagonal lines of the sheep’s legs present stability in the photo. The sheep itself lies on two liens of composition, helping to make a more dynamic photo. The added clouds create a more tranquil and natural photo. The light emanating from the sunset is very natural and illuminates the subject and the photo in its entirety.

Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923 – October 1, 2004)

Richard Avedon was born in 1923 in New York to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. Avedon left high school to join the Merchant Marine Academy as a photographer, taking personnel identification photos and photographs of shipwrecks. When his time at the Merchant Marine Academy ended, he moved on to a job as a photographer for a department store. However, this job only lasted two years because Avdeon was discovered by an employee of Harper’s Bazaar and soon joined their ranks as a photographer. From this experience he went on to photograph for Vogue, Look, and various other publications.

Avdeon’s first love of photographer is the portrait because of its ability to take a subject and capture the “truth” within a subject. As he became more famous for his style and ability, Avedon was able to photograph more celebrities and public figures. His pictures painted their public perception visually and allowed for a new essence to be capture, making them more relatable to the public, more human. Avedon’s artistic beauty is credited to his ability to make his subjects comfortable, thus creating an ability to capture the raw, intimate essence of his subjects.

Richard Avedon’s style is usually minimalistic. His portraits are taken against a white backdrop with am ample amount of lighting on his subjects. A majority of his images/portraits capture some form of movement from his subjects, allowing for a more candid and spontaneous take. Still, his photos remain classic and formal even with the level of spontaneity contained.

Avedon worked with Truman Capote to document the lives of American elites and public figures. This book was titled Observations and focused on capturing photos of individuals seen as the most famous and notable individuals at the time (1959) such as Gloria Vanderbilt. However, Avedon’s photography was not limited to entertainment figures. He dipped in the realm of political and social explication. Aroudn the time of Observations, Avedon began taking photos of patients in mental hospitals. He capture the raw existence of the patience and what they went through on a daily basis.

Harper’s Bazaar continued to have Avedon as part of their ranks throughout the 1960’s.  He also published another book titled Nothing Personal with colleague and friend James Baldwin.  For the next two decades Avedon mainly did work for Vogue. In the early nineties, Richard Avedon became the first staff photographer for The New Yorker.   In 1994 the Whitney Museum honored Avedon by creating an exhibit to show the past fifty years of his work in a retrospective titled “Richard Avedon: Evidence”.

In 1958 he was named one of the worlds “10 Finest Photographers” by Popular Photography Magazine. In 1989 Avedon received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art in London.In 2003, he received a national arts award for lifetime achievement.

Richard Avedon’s bulb blew out  on October 1, 2004

This image of Tina Turner, like the majority of Avedon’s photos, has a shallow depth of focus. This helps to establish Turner as the focus/emphasis of the photo and places her close enough to the viewer that makes her more approachable and raw. There is a straight line to her body that shows stability and a fierce personality. However, the diagonal lines of her legs present Turner in motion. It is this movement that helps further portray Tina Turner’s character or personality. She is an entertainer by trade and diva by art. The motion that she is in presents her as a performer aimed at entertainment. The posture that Turner presents, gives off an essence of “fierceness”, a large part of Turner’s reputation. The lighting in the picture fully illuminates the subject (Turner). However, the lighting seems very natural and formal. The light composition of the lighting presents a gentle texture that makes the subject more visually approachable. Turner is not perfectly in the center and her left leg lies near an intersection. The picture is therefore balanced and further approachable to the viewer. The emotion on Turner’s face presents a fun, spritied, and passionate individual.  It is the culmination of all of these tactics that forms a picture that is both beautiful and formal. Avedon’s artistic decisions with his photos establish his subjects as the main focus and portray a raw essence of the subject’s that make them more approachable to viewers.

In character with the majority of Avedon’s photos, this portrait of Charles Chaplin has a shallow depth of focus. In comparison to the photo of Tina Turner, the picture of Chaplin is even shallower. The lack of lines in the background simplify the picture while retaining focus on the subject. Chaplin is caught making a somewhat clenched face and hand gesture. The subject is at an angle and therefore is more dynamic. Chaplin’s hands fall on line creating a more dynamic pose. His dark shirt create a dark bottom half of the picture, however his face is well lit (it is after all the focus of the picture). The “fun” face portrayed by Chaplin presents his dynamic personality as an individual and entertainer.

This portrait of Hilary Clinton presents a softer side of the notable politician. Through the soft shades of grey, white, and black there is a gentle essence portrayed by this photo of a gentle individual. The motion capture in the smile presents a “bright” and happy soul. She is almost somewhat playful which contrasts to her persona as a tough, rugged, no nonsense public figure. The lighting on her face presents it as well lit and soft. Hilary is off-centered and her face lies on a line, making the figure more dynamic.

Richard Avedon’s work is very bold in its value of black and white. The images are still soft enough to be approachable, but they present a “close” view of the subjects. When an individual first views his work, the images appear to be just average portraits. However, there is a deeper meaning, a greater worth to the photos. Each subject is directly in the face of the viewer and their personalities/character are presented within the emotion and style of the picture. Subjects are in some form of motion that portrays a feeling or essence of the picture to the viewer. The style of the photos bring the subject to the viewer, these subjects are notable figures that are almost off limits to the average person, but these images give viewers a raw portrayal of the subject. The lighting puts the entire focus on the subject, and helps to portray the characteristics of the individual. This is why I find these pictures to be so beautiful, the photos themselves have a personality but it based off of the personality of the subject. Avedon gives a new meaning to the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”, by creating a style that presents the subject physically and intrinsically through the medium (the picture). At time there is even an unknown or lesser known side of the subject portrayed, such as the “gentle” photo of Hilary Clinton. I think this is also the main purpose of Avedon’s work, to make the subjects of his photos more accessible by presenting them in a raw fashion to viewers.


Chocolate and Letters

My Ad:

Ad Critique

The ad was found online at  It is an advertisement for Australian Post, which is an Australian company that provides postal services. This ad is meant to convince the viewer that in order to better connect with someone emotionally the best method is a letter, and more importantly the best way to send that letter is through Australian Post. At first glance the center of the image is the woman. She is being hugged by a human figure. She appears to be comforted by his embrace. The viewer then realizes that the figure has words/writing on him. This leads the viewer to recognize that the man is actually a part of something bigger, a letter. The two figures, the woman and the man, have a basic narrative of compassion but the “story” is not filled in until the bottom of the ad is read; “If you really want to touch someone, send them a letter.” It is this line that starts to fill in the details of the narrative, that these two people have a possible relationship and may not be able to see each other often. The eye then travels to the letter that the man is a part of and the viewer is filled in more on the story. These individuals have been apart for quite sometime, but this letter has brought them together/closer in some way. This helps create the underlying mood of comfort and connection. There is warmth illuminating from the picture as a result of this connection between the two in the picture and the letter that is helping to bring a better connection. The letter is also consoling and comforting the two individuals who are not able to see each other currently.

The woman is the point of orientation for ad. The curved lines of the two individuals’ arms present a meaning of comfort and safety. The lines of their bodies, standing straight up, provide a meaning of stability and solidity (possibly resulting from the connection the letter is bringing). There is a balance of three-dimensional and two-dimensional form.  The woman and man are both realistic forms. Although he is not as an average human looks (writing, part of a letter, color, etc.), his basic shape and form is that of a human. Also, although the letter the man is a part of is intricate and busy in that it is full of words, it still helps to sharpen the focus on the man as he breaks up the normal form of the letter. The man then holds the focus on the woman as she breaks him and the letters form and stands out because of her coloring. The movement of the ad is like that of the product. A letter is read from left to right and thus the viewer’s eyes work from side to side. The color of the letter is relatively mute in comparison to the woman’s purple shirt, brown hair, and skin tone. This helps to make her the focus of the image, as the individual that the man has written a letter to “touch”. This also allows for a pattern for the viewer’s eye to follow the path of least resistance from muted color to more vibrant color. The red of the company’s logo background helps to stand apart from the picture, letting it be uninterrupted by the words by the company while still providing the viewer with what the ad represents.

As for the principles of design used within the ad, there is a fair balance to the ad. The woman balances the ad symmetrically, because there is an equal amount of the muted coloring and words from the letter surrounding her. The man is larger proportionally to the woman, possibly as a means to symbolize his ability to hold and comfort her. The man is also a part of the letter but is disproportionate to it in order to stand out. Rhythmically there is a flow from left to right, but it starts at the woman because she is the focal point. There is an emphasis on her but the next important thing is the man because he is able to comfort her (through the letter). However, it is their embrace that is the purpose of the ad. The letter lets the man “touch” her. There is a unity to the photo because of the balance of proportions and fitting emphasis on important objects. The colors match and are balanced. The photo serves its purpose overall for the ad.

The ad is trying to say that when an individual is unable see someone or connect with them that they should write a letter. For although they cannot physically touch them, a letter allows for two people to touch each other emotionally. This allows for two individuals to be with each other without physically being next to each other. Semiotics is in this ad through the use of a well-known narrative. Although the viewer doesn’t know these the woman depicted in the ad, there is a familiar or recognizable story present. This woman appears (facial expression) to be missing someone, she is being comforted by a male figure who is possibly her lover that she is unable to see. She wants to connect with him or be able to “touch” him again but she cant because he is not near her. However, she receives a letter from the man. Thus the man in the picture is a symbol for the man who wrote the letter, his is embodied within the letter. As the words comfort the woman and reach her on an emotional level, it is as if the man is touching her himself. This image omits a small amount of sadness into the viewer (me) because I do miss my family back home in North Carolina. However, the ad erases this sorrow by providing an outlet of hope- a letter to reconnect. This ad is potentially deemed a success because it does make me consider writing a letter to my family, even though I call them and email them every so often, because of the effect letters have on people.

I think this ad is an effective and nicely designed one. Although there is a lot of detail in the background in the form of writing, the entirety of the ad is simplistic. It presents the emotion and purpose clearly. It provides a conflicted woman within the narrative and places the product (mail services) as a solution. The portrayal of the idea of a reaffirmed connection is one that is common to all humans. However, there is warmth within the ad from the reconnecting the letter has caused. If other viewers are like me, they will consider writing a letter to someone that want to reconnect with or just generally miss. However, there is a chance that it wont be in the form of a physical letter but rather an email. After all, we are in the Digital Age and our mediums of choice are much different.