A Photography Student’s Point of View on VSCO Cam

Hey guys!

VSCO cam–one of the most popular photo editing apps of our teenage generation…but not for a reason that I am very proud of. We are the generation of photo editing, Instagram and an overwhelming overflow of social media. I fully support the convenience of being able to take and edit photos on a whim, however, I am not the biggest fan of people thinking that a bad photo can be fixed with a nice filter. Obviously this app is not the reason for this plague of poor quality editing, but I have noticed that the popularity of filtering photos has skyrocketed since the app became more popular about two years ago. I follow my fair share of friends/family, celebrities, photographers, and companies on Instagram, and other than photographers and companies, pretty much everyone else is guilty of this. Even looking back on my old photos, I cringe seeing the amount of times I used the P5 filter on VSCO to edit a photo. Now, I focus on using the lowest concentration of a filter on a photo for the gram, and I use filters that accentuate the best parts of the photo. In fact, taking a photography course at FIT has made me focus more on certain aspects of a photo that cannot be fixed with a simple filter. In the studio I have learned how to control the lighting, and shadows, and angles present in my shot, and using the darkroom for printing has exposed me to the rawest form of editing, because I can only control the exposure and contrast when printing film in black and white. I have even had conversations with other Precollege students, both in and out of the photography department, agreeing that cell phone photo editing can almost be annoying because of how everyone suddenly thinks they are a professional photographer by slapping a pretty filter on a poorly constructed photo. I have a lot of respect for people that don’t even edit their photos (#nofilter), and most of my peers at FIT follow that trend. A trend that has been dying out is having an attractive Instagram “theme”–having the same filter and color scheme throughout their photos. I feel that along with the trend of unedited models and people with more ‘realistic’ body types being showcased in the media has had an effect on this. While people’s Instagram feeds may not be as aesthetically pleasing, each individual photo is now a lot more quality and just overall gives off better vibes because you are looking at what actually happened. In my opinion, I would rather look at a raw and maybe not 100% perfect photo, rather than an over edited and unnaturally posed picture. Abusing filters and being able to skew people’s perception of you and your life via social media is something that I am very against and I honestly just lose some respect for someone when they are too in over their head about themselves and their feed. Another quick complaint I have about VSCO is how people use this platform to showcase the parts of their life that they want people to know about, but don’t want to completely publicize. This totally differs depending on where you live. I’ve noticed that people that I follow from NYC, and more specifically FIT,  have tasteful and artistic photos posted up to their VSCO page–perfect! And then there’s people in my town. Selfies, parties, vaping, vandalism, selfies, screenshots of text messages with their significant others (what filter are you even going to put on a text message???), oh, and more selfies. I personally rarely update my VSCO profile, but when I do it’s usually pictures from shoots with my friends or vacation pics taken on my camera. Again, I feel very strongly about this due to my involvement with photography and the arts, especially now that I have some experience in a more professional photography environment thanks to the Precollege program. Below I’ll post some screenshots of Instagram profiles to showcase examples of what I have been ranting about this entire time. 

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An aesthetically pleasing Instagram theme that highlights golds and pale accents

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Filter options on this popular editing app–VSCO

My good friend and also a pre college student that has adapted the 'no filter' theme for his Instagram profile

My good friend and also a pre college student that has adapted the ‘no filter’ theme for his Instagram profile

 

Do any of you guys have social media pet peeves? How do you feel about modern photo editing? 

Until next week,

-Francesca

First Studio Shoot Experience and Final Project Progress

Hi Precollegers!

Over this past weekend I had the opportunity of conducting two photoshoots for my class at FIT. One was in the studio here at school, and my second one was the next day, to show progress on my final project. This post will be divided into two my two shoots, and to describe my experience with both–obviously I will include some photos for you all, too.

On Saturday I participated in my first studio shoot, and while some parts were obviously hectic, it was a very rewarding experience. After setting up lights, reflectors, backdrops, and props, the half of my class that was shooting this class spent the rest of our time shooting each other. At one point we borrowed mannequins that were just chilling in the hallway and used them for comical photos that actually came out pretty well. It was overwhelming at times when having to quickly switch from a digital to film camera, and having to balance modeling one second, to helping someone reflect lighting correctly the next. The only major issue I had while shooting was how warm I became after a while due to my jacket and hat that I kept on because people wanted to use me as a model because of my interesting outfit. Hopefully the final pictures will prove that me overheating will have been worth it–I have a pretty good feeling that it was. Personally, the easiest things to shoot were the headshots, just because the only focus of the photo was the upper body and they could be the most simplistic photos, style wise. I had a great time taking headshots of one girl in my class because she has insanely beautiful curly red hair and porcelain skin, which highlights her bright blue eyes even more. I loved using the reflectors to correct the lighting of the shots; I never realized how much of a difference good lighting could make. Here are a few of my favorite shots from Saturday–both serious and joke photos:

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On Sunday I was determined to start my final project, which is a series of photos surrounding a theme of your choosing. I have decided to center mine around societal beauty standards—cliche, I know, but I will go more in depth about my concept and execution of my idea in my final blog post of the semester, dedicated to final projects. My close friend Anna agreed to be my model for this shoot, and she was the perfect choice. This shoot could be slightly controversial, due to minor nudity (don’t worry she is in nude underwear and bra), so I’m only going to post photos here that don’t show too much skin. The shoot didn’t take long to set up, being that it was mostly taken in my bathtub, but it took FOREVER to clean up. Glitter will go everywhere and anywhere and I owe Anna big time for doing everything that she did for me. Only the most genuine friends will agree to let you strip them down and smear glitter on their face and stick it on her tongue for aesthetic purposes. I wouldn’t be surprised if she still was finding glitter in her underwear a week later. I still have to shoot part 1 of this project with Anna (parts 2 and 3 are what I shot Sunday)–I’m sure she’ll be ecstatic to know that now I have to take pictures of her with a glittery face in PUBLIC!! Here are some of my favorite and audience appropriate photos from this shoot:

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Let me know your opinions on both shoots in the comments below–have any of you ever created controversial art?

See you next week!

-Francesca

Family Input on Precollege Experience

imageSalutations Precollegers!

I’m currently blogging to you all at 5:30 am from my airport, on my way to visit a college in the culturally rich New Orleans! Being that it is Monday and this is set to post on Tuesday, I have very limited time to get this blog post done and uploaded—therefore, I have decided to blog about a very simple topic for this week—my family. My parents and sister have been nothing but supportive on this artistic endeavor that I have taken upon myself this semester. My parents have been good enough to drive me to my train station at 7:15 every Saturday morning (even though they could be asleep being that the weekend is their only break from early rising—they both work in the city, too). In the afternoon, I rush from class to my train to get home at 2, only to have to rush to my 2 o’clock shift at work, and of course, I couldn’t do that either without one of them waiting for me at the station. My younger sister, although not able to physically assist me, has been morally supportive and has been my biggest cheerleader. She is a very creative and imaginative person, so watching her older sister travel to the city every week to create something that she is passionate about must be neat (I can only imagine, obviously). She has actually shown her own interest in what I have been doing, and I can imagine that she will be taking a precollege course sometime before she graduates high school, too. I can always count on my family to give me feedback on my work, and my parents have been very excited about this course due to the fact that they both have taken film and darkroom classes before. Last class it took me about 3 and a half hours to fully develop and print a single (final) photo in the darkroom. After various trials with different time and contrast variations, I finally figured out to let my paper be exposed on a 4 contrast level for 24 seconds (film photography terminology, everyone!). I am very pleased with how my final product turned out, and the only regret I have is that I printed on glossy paper instead of pearl finished.There isn’t that much of a difference honestly, but personally I like the minimalist touch that the pearl finished paper adds to the print. The next time I restock in photography supplies, I’ll be sure to pick up some pearl, but for my first time, glossy is totally fine. Sorry about this post being on the shorter side, next week I’ll be home from college visits and I will have much more to talk about, considering next week I get to start shooting for my final project! Attached is the final print of my black and white film photo of my friend from my class, Natalia.

Until next time,
Francesca

The Power of Observation, by Arden

FotorCreated      I find it interesting to observe-people watch-observe everyone in their daily routine. This week’s focus in my beginner photo class was City Life. Now the cool part of observing “City Life” is diversity. There is so much to assimilate. We went on a trip to Madison Square Park in NYC, going with an open crisp mind to capture an epic moment. My goal was to apply the skills I’ve been learning in class these last few weeks. Most importantly an acute awareness was crucial throughout my adventure.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 1.10.04 PMObserving led to my growth. From the first class I’ve been able to see a tower of progression just getting larger and larger. I realized how easy it is to categorize people. My camera was my muse of focusing in on myself and fine-tuning my future prospects. I found it interesting to see through my lenses and formulate perspective.

I was able to come to these humble realizations because of the hidden universal language of photography. Noticing how throughout this trip I step outside of my comfort zone and started a conversation with strangers by asking the icebreaker question, “Can I photograph you (or your dog!)?”Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 1.13.07 PM

It’s important to observe and accept how we all see differently and that is the beauty of diversification. It’s important to STOP, take a deep breath, and soak in everything around you with the goal of becoming a more humble, well rounded, accepting human being.

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First Darkroom Experience–And Some Tips!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Although I missed my classmates and photography dearly this past Saturday, I will admit that it was a treat to be able to sleep in on Saturday morning. Spring Break Forever! Today I’m going to talk to you guys about last week’s class, and what I learned from my first time developing film in a darkroom.

I came into the city with my close friend Anna who also takes a class at FIT, and we met her friend from her class, Fiona, on the train. On our way to class we stopped at Gregory’s Coffee and Fresh&Co and spent some time catching up and chatting (I ordered a cappuccino and some green juice for during class—Anna got herself a little bottle of watermelon juice, and it matched her nails perfectly!). When we got to school we parted ways, me making my way into Pomerantz, and my friends heading to Business.

I came into this photography class with some experience in digital photography (all self taught) and absolutely no prior knowledge with film. 2 classes ago we spent about 2 hours walking around the city, specifically the flat iron district, snapping photos on film. Last class we spent the entire time developing our photos and learning the art of the darkroom—spoiler: it is not as easy as you would think. I had to leave class about an hour an a half early to make it home in time for my sister’s Confirmation, but I did have a chance to occupy the darkroom with 2 other classmates, and use the chemistry to develop my photos (my professor picked up where I left off—she dried and completed my development).

So the darkroom is A LOT darker than I was expecting—I thought my eyes would eventually adjust to the lack of light and I would maybe see the outline of what I was doing, but nope! Pitch black the entire time, which is probably better considering my claustrophobia would’ve kicked once I realized how enclosed and small the space I was in was. I shared my darkroom with 2 other girls, and we took turns cutting, rolling, and enclosing our film in our cages and tanks—thank God one of them has had experience with the darkroom before, because I could not open my film container with the can opener in the dark for the life of me. After a few attempts, we were all finally successful, and we triumphantly left the dark room after about 20 minutes—pretty good for our first time if you ask me. I then spent the rest of my class using chemicals to develop my film, and I left class with chemical stains all over my shirt and ID (if you close up on the picture of my outfit you’ll notice the stains). I put together a few tips to keep in mind while using the dark room to make your experience run smoother, especially if it’s your first time:

  • Wear practical footwear!! Seriously—I know it’s the Fashion Institute of Technology and outfits are a big part of peoples’ self expression and identity, but open toed shoes and heels in a dark room are just an accident waiting to happen—trust me. A girl in my class wears heels a lot, so she brings a pair of slippers with her to wear when working in the darkroom. If your outfit must include hazardous shoes, bring something to change into—and remember, the dark room is dark, so no one will even see your feet anyway!
  • Wear dark clothing—and nothing too fancy. This class is one that is interactive and artistic, which means that you are bound to stain something on yourself at least once during the class. The chemicals splash easily, and you usually won’t notice it on yourself until it dries. Don’t worry, it’ll wash out, but dark clothing is more ideal to hide the stain anyway.
  • If you have glasses, wear them! Goggles are mandatory when working with the chemicals, so it’s better to have perfect vision and eye protection, rather than having to wear goggles.
  • Bring your own scissors and portable can openers—It’s just easier to have your own set of tools rather than having to spend time in the dark room taking turns using the devices, while also blindly searching for them—and you’re pretty much hopeless if you drop something on the floor. Also, the can openers that I have used were not the newest or sharpest, making it harder for me to try to prod open my film case. Using a newer one can cut some time out of your darkroom use, which will make everything faster.

Next class, we will be reviewing our photos and discussing our final projects—something that I should really get started on. Let me know about your first dark room experience in the comments below!

Until next class,

~Francesca

Fresh juice aesthetics ft. Anna’s smirk

Some cappuccino love

A quick #OOTD–close up on my top to see some lovely chemical stains from photo developing