Digital Documentary Photography
For my project, I wanted to capture the struggle that college students
go through to balance rigorous academics with everything else in their
life. I documented the life of my girlfriend, a junior at Wake Forest
University, as she attempts to find time for academics, athletics, and
social life. I think that my girlfriend, Melissa, makes a good subject
for two reasons. First, she has a very interesting story, as she was
an exceptional high school athlete, but has almost totally given up
sports in favor of studying. She is currently in the process of trying
to make rigorous exercise a part of her life again, and I thought that
it would be very interesting to photograph this transformation. At the
same time that Melissa is trying to balance working out and studying,
she must also make time for friends, relaxation, and, of course, a relationship.
I try to document all of these aspects of her life in my project. The
second reason that Melissa was a great subject for this project is that
she was very accessible. Since I see her frequently, I was able to shoot
photographs on many different occasions, and in situations that I might
not have been able to observe with a stranger or even a friend.
I took photographs of Melissa on 20-30 separate occasions, and I saved
768 images to my computer. I probably took over 1000 pictures total,
but deleted some of them straight off of my camera. I greatly enjoyed
taking the pictures for this project, especially the pictures of Melissa
exercising in which I experimented with slow shutter speeds and blurring
of both the subject and the background. My biggest challenge in the
project was documenting Melissa’s social life. I choose to stay
away from photographing parties, both because this is not a large part
of Melissa’s life and because I found that many college partygoers
are uncomfortable being photographed for a project that will go on the
Internet. I therefore focused on depicting her everyday interactions
with friends, and attempted to depict her relationship without simply
taking pictures of myself.
Overall, I am very satisfied with the way that my project turned out.
I think that an audio/visual slide show is a very interesting medium
for presenting a documentary, and I enjoyed having a chance to narrate
and fit music to my photographs. I think that I learned a lot about
how to bring together a coherent documentary from an extremely large
number of pictures, and both my photography and photo editing skills
improved over the course of the project.