The production of this series has been an eye opening experience.
Partnered with Paragon Hair Salon, Carime Murillo MUA, and Chris Nguyen Stylist
“Moving into the city has given me a new perspective of life. When I moved here the sky scarpers, expensive cars, and quality lifestyle were an obvious statement of wealth within the city, but amongst all the luxury I was exposed to the large numbers of homeless people. As I continue to live in Atlanta, the contrast between these two lifestyles has become more apparent.
I began building my interest in photography once I got frustrated with drawing. Art in general has been an interest since I was young, but I’ve never been a patient person. Therefore, I pursued a new interest in photography. It had seemed like I had stepped away from the time consumption of drawing with just a click of a button, but further on I began to understand that just as a drawing – photography takes patience. My main photography interest is Fashion Photography. I’ve developed an appreciation for the beauty of the human body, rendered in an image. Since I began to have negative personal judgments, fashion photography was a gateway to remind me that beauty exists. Disregarding the ethical problem with Fashion Photography, I believe that it serves as an enhancement of the natural beauty we hold. With this field, I am able to tell a story of beauty through personal manipulation.
In this series, I present a mix of wealth and poverty. Several factors were considered into the piece. The location, the model, wardrobe, jewelry, and makeup were intended to represent the affluence within the city of Atlanta. In this series the background building is home to a family of homeless residents in the city.
The images were originally in color, but the black and white theme in this series attributes to the title Contrasto. The lack of colors enhances the difference of the two lifestyles. In addition, Black and white represents a strict difference between the two colors rather than a gradation. Therefore when I relate it to Atlanta’s poverty and wealth, I state how there’s isn’t a gradual transition from an affluent area to a low-income area. Instead, they are both right next to each other, looking like the apposite colors black and white. Therefore the manipulation of this series is de-saturated.
The process of this series consisted of me communicating with local businesses and students. The post-processing of the images uses slight accentuation of the model’s face and a de-saturation process. The contrast of the images is increased in sections to add focal points, and softening of the image is used in certain areas to create a contrast between the textures in the scene and the model. Over all the images were manipulated minimally and de-saturated appropriately to convey a balanced composition.”
Unfortunately, I realized that I had really captured more than I intended in this series when trying to write my artist statement.
The uncontrolled factors:
As I continue to think about the process of producing this series I further realize that so much is being told through this series. First of all, the wonderful collaboration group I got together gave amazing results. So I’d like to thank them for helping create this series.
Fortunately the group’s background comes from a sustainable financial position. The model and wardrobe artist come from a private and expensive university. They are College students who are working for a higher education, a valuable part of life many are unfortunate to miss out on (I’m not the degrading the valuable education life in general has to offer, but that’s beside the point).
The hair stylist and make up artist, both hold a sustainable job and work for reputable businesses. Businesses that allow them to live in a furnished room. Both artists with qualities that help enhance the beauty of those who have the money to pay such professionals.
January 29th was the date of the photo shoot and everyone arrived with warm air hitting their face in the comfort of a car. On this day the weather was frigid, especially behind the shadow of the building. Although through the session Alina shivered in the cold and posed to portray elegance, she was kept warm in a shiny red Mini-Cooper. In contrast, the building had no windows on the shaded side of the building and on the opposite side – concrete covered openings. As we went through the session, several homeless women and men climbed the tree in the background of the images to get into their version of a “warm room.” I can’t help but to think of a contrast amongst these two situations and immediately relate it to black and white. I lack the words and descriptions to really explain the feeling I’m having, realizing how fortunate I am to have the luxury of warmth.
The building was also a few blocks away from the Capital building that has a Golden Dome. I find that very b/w as well.
As I continued with the development of this series historical parts came to my mind. I question why I was unaware that I chose a light skinned model, and now that I remember the people that came in and out of the building were of a darker tone. Unconsciously, this also affects the further meaning of my series.
During the session, I remember calling this man over to us to grab a few of our snacks. He accepted and even asked to have the leftovers, I let him have them. At the end of the session in efforts to thank Alina and Chris for their help, I invited them to dinner. We had a very filling meal that could’ve fed 3 people off each of our plates. Now I’m sitting here, thinking that earlier on that day a man asked for the left overs of our snacks.
I’ve never had a series of photographs that capture the story of a day and the brutal reality I was trying to convey. I was trying to make it stand out to people so who may not have noticed their surroundings. So my attempt was to create an incentive in people to appreciate what they may undervalue. When in unintentionally, this series was really intended for someone else.
I just realized this series was not meant for others to see what they were a part of, thinking I was excluded because I lack funds my self. No, I am also part of that black and white contrast – it gives me goosebumps to just have realized.
It was meant for me.