The photo essay was one of my favorite assignments of the semester. This assignment required us to pick a theme or narrative and take photos using a manual camera. We were not allowed to alter these photos in any way (no Photoshop), which meant we had to pay attention to how we framed the photo, the lighting, the camera settings, etc. We were to take and print a minimum of 75 photos in order to select the best 12 and arrange our photo essay.
I decided early on I wanted to do a thematic photo essay and center it on NYC. I had several ideas and I initially struggled with picking one specific thing to focus on. I was inspired by Bill Cunningham’s fashion photography for The New York Times. Cunningham does street photography and often focuses on a specific style or color of a piece of clothing or accessory (see here). This gave me the idea to photograph NYC focusing on one color, and I chose red.
In the first set of photographs, I didn’t have as much material to work with as I would have liked, since I was still trying to figure out my DSLR camera and I was photographing other potential theme ideas as well.
For the second set of photographs, I retained only three of the original photographs and went back out there and took more photos, this time more successfully, as I was getting the hang of the camera and was focused on capturing photos for my theme. I also tried to focus on photographing things that were not just red, but also representative of NYC in some way. I wanted to have a diverse set of photos that showed different aspects of the city.
In the third and final set of photographs, I rearranged the photos to create a more coherent sequence.
I am really happy with the end result and really enjoyed taking this opportunity to explore the city through photography. I might even expand on this idea with other colors!