A few days ago I was surprised with a phone call from a good friend at The Wish Dish with a new vision for their platform. A vision that gives people a place to share their story, but in a different way than this platform is usually seen. He pitched me an idea that brought light to a passion of mine, sharing stories visually, through images.
His idea was to encourage others in our community to share the stories of what makes someone point a camera at an object, place or person hold down the shutter for half a second, and capture an image that will live in our world forever.
We see photos everyday in newspapers, on TV and in magazines, but wouldn’t it be interesting to get a little insight on why the creator took that photo?
Needless to say, I was hooked. I hung up the phone and immediately started brainstorming photos I have taken that I wanted to share with The Wish Dish and its audience.
After taking the weekend to look through photos I wanted to share, I put together a collection of images with a short story attached to each of them. These are photos I have grown particularly fond of since the time they were taken. Some have sentimental value, while others are photos I simply enjoy looking back on and remembering the reason why I clicked my shutter. Here are four images I have chosen to share with The Wish Dish audience:
This photo was taken at little spot in Athens, Ga known as “the swing”. After hearing about the swing from multiple sources, my friend Emily and I decided we would go find it. Tucked behind the railroad tracks down Pulaski Street, it waited for us to discover the joy and memories it has brought to other locals and adventurers alike. It’s nothing extraordinary. It’s not a place that someone would stop and admire if they were simply passing by. But, it is a treasure in the eyes of those who learn to appreciate the value of something that’s so simplistic in its contribution to the unique essence of Athens.
Since this was the first time Emily and I had ever been to the swing it took a few shots to capture a good angle, with soft light and crisp motion. After studying photos of the swing beforehand, I knew the railroad tracks in the background made for pleasant leading lines and could make a soft background for an image. The rest of the shot pretty much fell into place after continuously shooting as Emily swung back and forth across the frame.
I constantly clicked my shutter as I followed her motion, leading me to be able to capture the feature I admire most in this shot, Emily’s hair. Without the frozen motion of her hair I don’t think the shot would have been anything special. The interesting thing about this photo is that I never saw it when we were shooting. I first discovered it as I was looking through my images later that evening. I remember being pretty excited about what I found and immediately sent it to Emily for her to see.
I chose to share this image because it captures the excitement and thrill of visual storytelling. There is excitment in discovering new places in a town you have lived in for almost three years. There is thrill in uploading images to your computer and finding that one photo that makes you stop and look just a few seconds longer.
It captures a recognizable place, one that is special to the hearts of Athen’s locals. It embodies a mood, one that is free spirited and capable of sending that emotion to the person looking at the photo. And lastly, it captures a memorable feature, Emily’s hair. Together, this photo was composed to highlight a place that may be less discovered and less known, but nevertheless admired or less appreciated by those who have visited the swing.
This photo was taken in an abandoned warehouse down by Peppino’s on South Milledge Avenue in Athens, Georgia. It’s an easy spot to drive right past, considering it looks like a pile of burned up rubble left to sit on the side of the road. A good friend showed me this spot a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t help but come back and experiment with the gorgeous light that leaks into the windows.
I think the warehouse is important to share because it portrays beauty in a way that is less recognized and noticed by the common eye. I usually try and find a light in most experiences I go through in my life. I strive to highlight characteristics in people that they may not see as beautiful or attractive, but should be recognized because that’s what makes us people, essentially. This building is just that. It’s broken, burned and abandoned, yet it’s overflowing with its unique beauty. It can be looked at as an ugly, black pile of metal that used to be used for something. Or, it can be looked at as a beautiful opportunity to make images that tell the story of finding a little slice of hope in a place that doesn’t appear to be so hopeful.
Since this warehouse was such a large space, I focused on trying to capture a sense of scale. The warehouse is wide and long, leading me to use a wide angle lens and stepping further back from the windows than I usually would when shooting a portrait or a detail shot. I was completely on the other side of the room in this shot where I told my friend, Casey, to walk across the space in front of me.
Beforehand, I knew the light would probably make Casey’s body a silhouette, considering I was shooting into the light with an object in front of a light source. As she entered the frame I was excited to see that the vision was accurate and I snapped a few quick photos as she walked by.
This photo was taken at a bee yard in Toccoa, Georgia. A local honey production and distribution team, Mountain Sweet Honey Co., shared their story with me on a photojournalism trip this past spring. Over a three day weekend, our class traveled to Toccoa to tell the stories of people their community. Whether the person owned a small business downtown, or worked on a farm on the outskirts of town, we found that Toccoa had such a strong sense of community.
After discovering a jar of Mountain Sweet Honey Co.’s honey in the Toccoa visitor’s center, I immediately called and asked if they would be interested in spending a few days with them to visually document the story of their business and those who are a part of it. The end product was a multimedia audio slideshow that revealed the importance of Mountain Sweet Honey in the Toccoa community.
The owners, Ray and Julie, commit their life to providing honey and honey bees to locals, and even businesses across the northeast. Their passion for learning the science behind beekeeping keeps their business alive, leading me to fall in love with their story every time I reflect on the photos I took that weekend.
The work that went into capturing this photo was pretty extensive and stressful, I’m not going to lie. I put on a bee suit and actually got into the hives in the bee yard. There was no way around this process if I wanted to capture the full story of Mountain Sweet Honey Co. The bees are what makes their business, period. One of our instructors for the weekend came with me on this day to make sure my story was developing well (I think he secretly wanted to get in on the bee action). I used a macro lens for most of the shots in the bee yard in order to capture the detail in the hives.
Never using a macro lens before, I would say it was a huge challenge to get used to the focus. As you can tell from the name of the lens, it captures extremely close up, detailed images, forcing me to hold the camera very still and carefully placing the focus on the bees in the foreground. I had to figure out the mechanics of the lens quickly after realizing the bees were getting angry that I was so close to their home as they repeatedly bumped against my face mask. However, like other photos I have shared, this one was captured by continuously pressing holding the down the shutter until I found the right angle and precise sharpness I was looking for.
I always say I see my world as photos. I see objects, places and people as an opportunity to capture an image that tells a story. I started noticing my craft as it developed stronger throughout my time at the University of Georgia and have rarely ever had the urge to pursue something different.
I’m lucky to live in a place that embraces creativity and passion for building a strong sense of community like Athens does. I hope to take this passion and bring it wherever my life takes me after I graduate this year. I encourage myself to be the person who brings a different perspective, or way of seeing. I encourage you to do the same, make a difference and tell your story.