The Many Reasons Why I Love Photography and Photography Community

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The people who make up today’s thriving photographic community are our eyes to the world. Whether established artists and journalists or passionate emerging voices, they inform us, they inspire us, they amaze us, they put our world in the broader context of history.

My personal project focused on abiding to a personal study of photography that shows how much I have accomplished within half a year of devoting myself to this hobby. Essentially, I aimed to create a well presented photo book of my photography adventures and see how I have progressed and learned. The product allows me to observe how I have applied the learning to my photography. I also want people’s thoughts and emotions to be moved, and influence their views towards photography. To achieve my goal, I have to personally commit to taking photographs over a period of approximately six months.

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I love photography because I can tell stories that can only be effectively conveyed through pictures. Because there is power in images. Power to move hearts, to sway emotions, to make changes. And also because it can also serve as a symbolic ststement of myself and of others. A testament of everything I've witnessed, happy laughs or desperate cries, from the most mundane to the most amazing things. Everything. And also because it's a never-ending learning process. It always has so many tricks in its sleave that nobody can possibly master all of its secrets. Always challenging. Through photography I have learned - and still learning - many things, from mat to physics, chemistry even electronics. Moreover, it gives choices: One can learn photography only from its technical aspects, or choose to learn it only from its artistical ones. Or both.

I chose Personal and Cultural Expression for the context of my project, which helped me define a specific goal and identify a topic in a specified area. Seeing that my topic was photography, and my goal was to create a photo book, my project fell into Personal and Cultural Expression. This global context is based on the creative process, which allowed me to explore human creativity and how it influences the human mind along with society. My project’s aim was to change people’s view of photography through solving problems, developing certain skills and creating a product that expounded on my creativity. As I was focusing on Personal and Cultural Expression, I considered what kind of an impact my product has on others, and demonstrate human expression.

My goal was to closely study photography and to create a photo book, entailing captured moments of different emotions. I ed to show viewers of my photobook how a photograph that has excellent composition, perspective, lighting and colour balance can effectively capture emotion in a scene. My global context helped me set a highly challenging and effective goal, in that; through my Personal project I wanted others to appreciate the aesthetic appeal of culture represented in the photobook. The global context of personal and cultural expression and the area of exploration of artistry and social constructions of reality gave greater purpose to my project as it enabled me to focus on developing the four elements of photography to create a series of aesthetically pleasing images.

My goal was highly challenging because, it put to use all the ib learner profile attributes throughout the project, in essence, tested my social abilities, my time management and my flexibility in different photography environments. The two subjects that I studied over the past years during the IB Middle Years Programme that have helped me establish prior knowledge for my project are Arts – Photography and Language and literature. In Arts – we inquired into how to develop our technical photography and fine arts skills to create a series of images that capture what it means to be human.

In this subject I was able to develop the skills such as the, using a light box and redirecting light to create a softer image. We also learnt the ethical decisions behind taking a photograph. In our Language and literature visual literacy unit the concept we had just finished exploring is ‘perspective and creativity’. Our statement of inquiry has been ‘Creativity through artistry and craft provides a channel for self-expression that impacts change and advocacy.’ In this unit we explored the features of advertisements and the thought process that goes into creating an image with a message. We covered visual literacy features such as vector, reading path, modality and the features of an image. Through inquiring into the visual literacy features we were able to identify how the artists choices sent a message to the viewer and images are made of meaningful components. This subject-specific knowledge has helped me develop the element of perspective in my photography and given me the guidance to make effective choices when composing my photographs.

My two primary sources for this project were Kenyan photography, Kenyan photographer Alex Kamweru and world-renowned freelance and Photographer Jessica Kobessi. I was able to receive information regarding how to develop my skills in the photography elements of composition, lighting, perspective and colour balance by emailing Alex Kamweru directly. Alex provided highly accurate and effective information that I was able to transfer to my project. I was able to find first-hand information from Jessica Kobessi on her YouTube channel where She explained the Top Tips for Composition with examples from hER work that validated the information. The information Jessica Kobessi provided was validated by Alex Kamweru and other secondary sources, this information was simple and effective enough to apply to my own photography.

The second half of investigating was dedicated to researching photo books and the companies that offer such services. I was essentially looking for a company devoted to quality and sustainability with reasonable prices and good customer service. Some of the design specifications I set for my photo book were a custom Hardcover, 30 – 50 page count, standard landscape trim size, professional-grade paper, and intuitive photo book software with an abundance of creative and customizable layouts.

Researching potential photo book companies was an entirely new experience because I have a brief understanding of the photo book publishing process prior to researching. This component has given me a better overall understanding of how the application of the final product outcome will turn out according to the needs of my photography portfolio. Essentially, the research has helped me decide what actions to take and apply to my goal; I have learned various ways to maintain the project more effectively. I was also provided with a huge sense of inspiration for the creation stage, browsing through innovative photos that deliver strong ideas and are visually stunning to look at.

Once I had put together my research with my goal statement, global context and identification of prior learning and subject-specific knowledge I created 6 specifications for my photobook (see appendix list). These specifications determined what I wanted to accomplish and provided a guideline for the achievement of my personal project goal.

Majority of the six specifications focused on the aesthetic look of the photos, as well as the intangible aspects of the photos. For my photobook, my specifications were, but were not limited to; 10 quality photos properly capturing the aspects and characteristics of a good photographer, my photos needed to demonstrate the understanding and application of elements of photography, in essence; perspective, composition, colour balance and lighting, my photo book needed to be aesthetically pleasing to the artistic and non-artistc eye; moreover, my photos needed to be titled- using short catchy and original titles, my photos needed to capture colourful and multicultural characteristics. Lastly, all my photos needed to display and expound on an emotion of my choice, but was not limited to just one.

I used the evaluated the criteria for my product to the criteria for success so as to ensure that as I proceeded in the creation of my product I was able to assess and improve on my product prior and post the completion of the project, to ensure I had produced a quality product. Post the development of my criteria, I created a Gantt chart (see appendix list) to plan and asses the progression in the creation of my photobook. I divided my photo session times according to certain events taking place within the city as well as the weather, which ended up spanning the period of time for the photoshoots in two and a half weeks. Not only was this time evidentially enough for the photobook, but it also gave me space to properly edit my photos and ask for feedback amongst three levels of my peers, who were; newbie photographers- people who only know how to take selfies and have no way around artistic photography, amateur photographers and professional photographers (see appendix list).

Self-management is something I generally struggle with, there is no tunneled reason, regardless, this personal project taught me the critical importance of time management and decisiveness. I developed a number of skills through out the project’ specifically; my organization skills- planning and executing my projects is now easier because I have learnt the significance in knowing what you wat to do prior to the beginning of your project. Through the completion of this project, I have been able to govern my disposition and attitude positively by evidentially demonstrating and maintaining persistence as carrying out with the project seemed torturous and tiresome. Through the completion of my photobook, I had to tackle a number of incoming problems, that I either worked around or found solutions to. I categorized each assembly stage of my product in order to work effectively, and to demonstrate my thinking skills learned through the project.

My first step was taking the photos; I took to account the tutorials from each the respective photographer, and in so, I divided my expectations for each grouped photoshoot elementally. The first thing I did was refer to process journal in where I had planned to visit a number of events and places to shoot (see appendix list).

At Toi market, I decided to use colour as my main theme and focus, I used the information Jessica Cobessi provided in her YouTube video- and played around with different light states and backgrounds, which contributed highly to the theme of colour in my shots. I struggled in the portrayal of emotion in this shoot at toi market as most of the people I shot were happy, which was not necessarily a problem- but I had hoped to capture more candid shot than more formal posed ones.

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