Woodstock Reimagined: My STEP Experience

1. For my STEP project, I attended Lollapalooza, an annual music festival held in Grant Park, Chicago, on August 1-4. I adopted the role of a photographer and I took photographs of festival-goers and am composing a portfolio comparing the pictures I took from Lollapalooza to iconic pictures from the 1969 music festival, Woodstock. My goal for this Artistic & Creative Endeavors project was to analyze generational, fashion, pop-cultural, political, and self-expressional disparities evident in the photos that exist between two generations.

2. Partaking in this STEP project was undeniably life-changing. Through my past experiences with videography and photography via a personal YouTube profile and my role as Visual Imaging Program Coordinator for Student-Alumni Council, I have developed a passion for capturing moments through a lens, and through the development of my portfolio, was able to bring the quote “a picture is worth a thousand words” to life. The project was the perfect harmony of my passions for photography, for music, and for analyzing artwork with a critical eye.

Furthermore, partaking in this project was an excellent practice in expanding my horizons and getting out of my comfort zone, as engaging other festival goers in being photographed and understanding the premise of my project was a critical aspect of this project. Developing these interpersonal skills will undeniably benefit me as I work toward a career in the healthcare field, where I will be expected to communicate efficiently and clearly with patients of all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.

 

3. For a project with traveling at its foundation, I was forced to “fledge the nest” and fully immerse myself in the world of public transportation. I became keen on navigating the airport, ordering rides in Lyft cars, and interpreting railway maps for trains that run through the Chicago metropolitan area. Creating a budget in the proposal portion of the project and adhering to it was an excellent practice in conscious money spending and is a tool I will use in the future to hold myself accountable for the things I purchase.

Though my true passions for both music and photography/ videography were the motivators driving the design of this project, there were other aspects of the project that were uncomfortable at times. The act of engaging other festival-goers, explaining my project, and photographing them was more challenging than I had initially expected. I hadn’t considered how fast-paced music festivals are, and how most people are in a hurry to get from one stage to the next to maximize the number of artists they see perform in a day.

Ultimately, my desire to see this project through and collect the visual data necessary to compile a compelling portfolio overcame my feelings of shyness. After asking several people to be photographed, and receiving positive responses from (almost) everyone, my confidence grew and I was able to reclaim the identity of an investigative photographer throughout the festival. It is indisputable that being a lifelong learner with experience in photography and videography gave me the tools necessary to document the world and criticize captures in a creative yet analytical manner, but it is through the lens of the camera that I have discovered who I am and what I’m passionate about. In retrospect, it is undeniable that the aspects of this project that made me feel uncomfortable are those that have transformed me the most and pushed me to adopt a comfort level with others that will serve me well as a future health professional.

4. Though the course of my STEP project spanned five days, the lessons I carry with me as I take off on my senior year, graduate, take a gap year filled with travels, and attend dental school, are innumerable. The ability to budget my money, navigate big cities, interpret transportation systems and maps, get out of my comfort zone, and communicate effectively and efficiently with others are invaluable aspects of my STEP project that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. As a student, I need to be comfortable asking my professors questions when I’m unsure of a concept, I need to be confident in communicating with my peers to set up study groups, and I need to be able to listen to and communicate effectively while establishing treatment plans for my patients. These are all notions that I’m much more comfortable and confident in achieving thanks to my experience with STEP.

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