Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
For my STEP project, I used the grant to purchase a Nikon D7200 camera. I then spent the summer traveling throughout northeast Ohio exploring national and local parks doing nature photography. Once I returned to school, I took a photography class, and learned more of the finesse and history behind photography.
What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
The biggest way that I was transformed through my experience is in how I look at the world. According to John Szarkowski in “The Photographers Eye,” there are 5 basic principals of making a good photograph: the thing itself, time, point of view, detail, and the frame. These principals have effected how I look at the world, and as I take more and more photographs I have really begun to look at things from a different point of view (pun intended). I have really begun to appreciate the beauty all around me, whether that is an abandoned alleyway or a beautiful spring flower (as can both be seen in my post). I think that viewing the world in this way has really had an impact on my environmental activism as well. I know what kind of beauty is out there, and it is something I reflect back on constantly that I want my kids and grandkids to be able to appreciate the outdoors as much as I do — not simply through photographs but tangibly, in person. This experience has made me want to capture the beauty that the world has to offer, and preserve it for the benefit of the future.
What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?
There were three major events that happened during my STEP experience that led to this transformation in me. The first, and one of my favorite experiences, was when I went on a day trip to the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio. This massive arboretum has a myriad of animals and plants all in one patch of land, but the crown jewel of the park (in my humble opinion) is the rhododendron garden. This beautifully landscaped garden is filled with all kinds of different rhododendron plants, and just spending the time to slow down and enjoy it really defined my day. Trying to capture all of the subtleties of the different varieties of plants helped change how I try to look for detail.
Another important defining moment of my transformational experience was when I took the photography class after the summer taking pictures. The class, Art 2555, helped me to define my voice and improved my photographs. The class is where I learned about Szarkowski’s “The Photographers Eye,” and the 5 basic principals of making a good photograph: the thing itself, time, point of view, detail, and the frame. By giving me the theoretical background and the tools to improve my photography, the class improved my work a lot. The other important way the class helped me was the critique process. It was the first time that I had my work critiqued by a peer and professional, and hearing their feedback on a regular basis helped me to find the best way to pursue my work.
The last series of events that defined my project was the implementation of human subjects into my work. Before implementing people, I didn’t photograph anything but flowers and wildlife – which is easy. By broadening my horizons to include photographs of people, I was really able to deepen my skill with the camera. Also, by including human subjects I was able to build and deepen relationships with those people, and with people who view my work. By looking at human subjects, I got to learn a lot about people. I had to interact and communicate with the subjects while trying to transcend the them to speak to a larger picture. This last aspect of my STEP experience was the culmination of everything I have done and learned, and it really helped me grow in my photography and as a person.
Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
My STEP experience has really helped open my eyes to the beauty in the world around me. I am always looking at the world through an artists eye now, and that has really changed my outlook for the future. Studying public health and eventually medicine didn’t leave me with a lot of time to pursue the arts, and the grant from STEP has given me that opportunity. Furthermore, there is not going to be a time in the next few years that I will have the funds necessary to get into photography, aside from my STEP grant. Now that I have the resources to pursue photography as a creative outlet, I have seen that I will be able to focus on it as a release of stress. This will let me pursue my future and dedicate myself completely to studying and keeping my end goal, the medical field, in sharp focus (pun intended). This STEP experience is going to have long reaching effects into my future.