Senior Exhibition 2015 Gallery
Materials: Inkjet print
Dimensions: 22 x 30 inches
Project Advisors: John Shimon & Julie Lindemann
Year of Graduation: 2015
Copyright for this work is held by the artist.
Creative Commons License
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When one thinks of psychology in relation to photography, they tend to think of the photographer and their perception or why they chose to photograph something. Or perhaps they think about subject matter; for example, an exploration of mental illness through photography. I choose to focus on something that has not been studied much: the subject. I like to think about what goes through the subject’s mind when they are being photographed and the expectations that they bring into a photoshoot. I have never particularly liked giving my photographic subjects much direction, but I have found that, in most situations, a subject expects the photographer to give them direction and tell them exactly what to do, how to pose, and so on. I find that this is especially true in a classic studio setting: white backdrop, strobe lights, big and intimidating camera.
I decided to start playing with this idea of subjects being uncomfortable without direction and eventually landed on my technique of bringing the subject into the classic studio setting, simply saying “Pose!” and capturing their first reaction. I started working with this idea two years ago with only males, due to a comment from my professor that the boys in my projects “can’t pose.” This was fun and entertaining, but it also made me realize that this stressful situation may not be ideal for any gender. So, I did a second project in which I photographed subjects of any gender, but from within the groups of theatre students, athletes, science students, and musicians. I did not find any significant differences in reactions between these different groups and genders, so I expanded even further.
Now I am exploring the same idea, but open to all genders, all majors; no restrictions except for the fact that they are all college students. I had a sample size of 40. I also gave them each a short survey after I took their photo in order to gather information about them to see later if there were any differences. The general consensus seems to be that most people – or at least, young adults – have a reaction of confusion, surprise, and/or discomfort to being put on the spot in a photoshoot setting, and they come into this setting expecting to be told exactly what to do. There were a few different types of reactions (evident from both the photographs and the survey responses) but none of them seem to have anything to do with a person’s major, gender, or anything else. In the end, it all comes down to the individual.