“Here I was, a new student at a prestigious art school, reluctant to take my first photo. I had this idea that a photographer should only take pictures of things that are grand or important.”
CJ Colligan has forged a picture-taking style of her own. One that comes from the developing eye of a fourth semester Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design (VEPD) student. Politely she zooms in on the fashion evident on campus. Her work is hyper-local but with her large following on social media, her photos reach far beyond 27 Street.
“The first time on campus the visual impact–the blending of styles and the colorfulness of expression–well, I just wanted to capture it,” says Colligan. “It’s a form of presentation that we emulate in VPED. In exhibition you have to design, to visually show something or present information in a particular way.”
Colligan, who holds a BA in English from SUNY Binghamton, says she was hesitant about picture-taking until her required Intro to Photography class with Professor Curtis Willocks.
“Here I was, a student at a prestigious design school, and I was reluctant to take my first photo. I had this idea that a photographer should only take pictures of things that are grand or important. It seemed at first that nothing around was important enough to capture in a photo,” she said.
“Professor Willocks would say ‘Stop. Focus. And take the picture.’ It seems like simple advice. I took it and ran with it. Often the right photo is the view in front of you.”
“His view of all people being important, no matter who they are, inspired me to change my views of photography,” says Colligan.
“I’ve found it best to be polite and ask for permission to take someone’s picture. People are generally flattered. Sometimes people think that they aren’t important enough to have their picture taken.”
“I’ve found that at FIT, mostly everyone has something interesting to say about his or her style. For instance, I’ve found many students interested in the sustainability of fashion. They aren’t just into prestigious labels, but new designers and all kinds of personal customization.”
Colligan keeps her subjects anonymous. “It allows me to focus on their fashion and generally allows them to feel more comfortable. It can be difficult to approach strangers, even fellow students no matter how they look,” says Colligan.
“I want to capture the range of styles on campus. FIT is not only a fashion school, but a school for critical thinkers,” says Colligan
Photos used with permission