Melrose Park.

For my multimedia piece, I wanted to highlight the benefits of a diverse community. When I showed the project proposal to my professor she reminded me that I can’t try to spin the story the way I want to attempt to convince people a mixed environment is a positive thing, but rather tell the story of the park and let people create their own conclusions. As I continue to interview, photograph and to get to know the people of the park, I’ve realized that the park isn’t as diverse as I had originally thought. The park is close to my neighborhood and every time I  get the chance to be outside or walk my roommates dog I always go to Melrose Park. I loved how there is always an eclectic group of ages and races enjoying the park. However, being behind the lens has made me observe much more than what I saw at first glance. I am now realizing that even though there are different ages and races at the park, they rarely come into contact with each other. It’s almost as if the park is sectioned off, a white area and a black area. This is extremely troubling to me. This project has only reminded me of how racism still exists and that it is quite prevalent just a few miles from my home. It’s disheartening because I’ve started to bond with the staff and people of the park. They are all so excited to see the multimedia piece and I feel as if the information I have gotten so far will shed a bad light on the community and the park.  This has been a good lesson for me and I am now starting to understand the difficulties a photo-journalist comes into daily contact with. You have to deliver an honest story so that the viewer can develop their own opinion about the circumstances, just like my professor had told me. As of now, I only have interviews from a mother at the park and one of the park leaders. However, tomorrow I am interviewing a few of the volunteers from the USC Honors college, 2 of which have volunteered there for two years. I am interested to see what I uncover. Until then…

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Annie Leibovitz.

Annie Leibovitz has shot for Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, American Express, Walt Disney and a ton of other big name brands. Even if you’re not big into photography, her name is quite common. Leibovitz started out at the cutting edge of counterculture in the late 60s. Born in Connecticut, she studied photography at the San Francisco Art Institute, where, at 19, she took a photograph of Allen Ginsberg smoking a joint on an anti-Vietnam march. A friend urged her to submit it to Rolling Stone and it became the cover of the June 1970 issue. By the age of 24, she was Rolling Stone’s chief photographer. At 25, she was on Nixon’s helicopter as he fled the White House. A year later, she toured America with the Rolling Stones. She has shot John Lennon, The Blues Brothers, Queen Elizabeth II, the Family of Barack Obama, and Bill Gates. Annie Leibovitz is a huge inspiration to me. Here are a few quotes from her: 

“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”

“When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.”

“You don’t have to sort of enhance reality. There is nothing stranger than truth.”

“I’ve said about a million times that the best thing a young photographer can do is to stay close to home. Start with your friends and family, the people who will put up with you. Discover what it means to be close to your work, to be intimate with a subject. Measure the difference between that and working with someone you don’t know as much about. Of course there are many good photographs that have nothing to do with staying close to home, and I guess what I’m really saying is that you should take pictures of something that has meaning for you…”

I think many people have a misconception of photographers, that they are “behind the scenes” and don’t need to be strong communicators but the opposite is true. It is important to form a strong bond with the people you are shooting, even if you only have 15 minutes with them. This will make them more comfortable, which will create much better photographs. As I am shooting for our multimedia project, I am trying to create an intimate relationship with the people I have been shooting. I always remind myself to have an open mind and let the subject do what is natural for them, and then I have to work around that. It feels good knowing that each time I go out and shoot I am not only bettering my photography skills, but also learning from the people I am shooting and from the different situations I have come into contact with. I believe I can learn something from every person I meet, I just have to be aware of that and allow myself to do so. In this photography class I have not only become a better photographer but I have also become a better communicator and have become so much more aware of my surroundings. I am really glad I took this class and am excited to see how the final project turns out! 🙂 

Anyway, I want to share a few of my favorite photographs from Annie Leibovitz: 

 

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All of her work is so natural and calming. I love it! She makes the celebrities feel normal, not as unrealistic and “untouchable” as most of the other photographs I see them in. Anyways, hope you enjoyed her pictures as much as I do. Happy Thursday! 😀