happy with the way a photo assignment turned out

From Feb. 22 – March 5 in my Fundamentals of Photojournalism course we worked on photo story about one of our fellow classmates. It wasn’t so much a day in life as it was a condensed photographic essay about who the person was. So, we were expected not to just depict a chronological series of images. Before the project began we each picked a classmate’s name out of our T.A.’s beanie for whom we would be doing our assignment on. I selected Esther Banales, an exhange student from Spain. I only knew a few people in my class so I was certain I would get someone I didn’t know. Going into the assignment I was excited to begin work on an assignment that took into account our ability to tell a story. Previously, we had only submitted one-photo assignments. Once me and Esther began to talk it was then my job to try and illustrate who she was and her story. As a photographer and classmate it seemed like the assignment would be easy, but like any assignment it was up to the photographer to question the subject, to immerse ones self into their subject’s world. During an initial interview with Esther and one of her friends I found I had to look at her story a different way. While one might try and discover their subject’s struggles or triumphs, Esther was really just a laid back individual. No there was no heart wrenching story about her struggle to fit in in another country and anything like that. I realized that presumptions of a person shouldn’t be our initial idea about them, or try to force a specific story unwillingly. Esther was busy with school, but that wasn’t her life. She didn’t have a job here nor did she have some sort of passion that was right out in the open that anyone could notice. So, for my story all I did was just listen. As we talked in our interview I went in without any ideas in my head. But as we talked and her friend added in the conversation I began to figure out that Esther was merely someone who lived life with a genuine enthusiasm towards life, who yet timid under first impressions bloomed into a talkative up-beat personality as she becomes surrounded by people she knows. This was the story I wanted to tell. As I followed her around, hanging out with her and her friends, I tried to capture this type of essence of Esther throughout various situations. After three different days of shooting and 1,500 photos later I then had to do the job of editing, which I tend to be extremely slow at. However, for the first time I think I was able to look at my images with a photojournalist mindset. Prior to Mizzou I was a fine arts major in photography. With this mindset I tended to look at photos with a which image looks best editing process. But, as I learned from POYi photographers who choose stylish images tend to be fogged by what the real story is. As I edited my photos down, I tried to take this concept to heart. When I neared my final edit I finally realized what I had to do. I asked myself: “Does each image tell something different about Esther?” and “Could each image stand alone?” As our  T.A. Vivian said in our Fundamentals class, we sometimes have to drown puppies, i.e. sometimes we have to reject images that we love in order to tell our story truthfully. And so, with these questions answered I was done with my photos. While some I took a risk in choosing I truly feel that each one can say something about who Esther is.

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