Questions About Photography

July 18, 2012 | Tags: , ,

Recently I was contacted by a photography student asking about my Body Emotions series. The student was interested in the background of the series and what got me into photography in general. She asked:

“I would like to know what got you into photography and why you chose to do a shoot about body emotions?

What influenced you into doing such an interesting project and what kind of meanings or emotions were you trying to portray?”

Here is my response, in case you (dear reader) were also wondering.

Why I Got Into Photography

Man holding a video game controller angrily holding his first in the air

from a series for IU Creative Services

I got into photography really because I love light. I like looking around me and noticing things. I like details about the world. I like the small worlds that inhabit our much larger world. And I love people and emotions.

For me, photography became a way to express what I saw in the world. It was an outlet, and sometimes the only way I felt I could speak. Most of the time I didn’t fully understand what I wanted to say until I started shooting, then it just all came out. At times, I didn’t even think I had anything to say at all, but once I got behind the lens, I couldn’t help but speak.

The camera also enabled me to dis-engage with the world physically while highly engaging with it both emotionally and mentally. The physical was always there, moving around a subject or manipulating light, but the mental exercise of seeing something before I created the photograph was powerful. It enabled me to be reflective about what I saw, and what I thought.

a black and white image depicting a gritty lock and chain

details in fine art photography

I also love how looking through a view-finder always changes my perspective. It forces me to think. It forces me to understand, and to notice. But that process never stopped within the camera. It evolved constantly as I edited photos in the darkroom, or manipulated images digitally. I always tried to force myself to understand what I was trying to say, and if that message was coming across. I also love imaging what people will think about a photograph as well. How can I get my message across to the viewer? What will speak loudly to them? (which ties in well to my career in experience design.)

About Body Emotions

I specifically began shooting body emotions after a weird night of playing around with my camera. I often shoot self portraits, and one night I decided to put a box on my head. I was working at my computer and seeing all these boxes everywhere. A box for my computer, a box for the screen, a box around the keyboard, 20 different boxes on the screen. It seems like we are always working with boxes and within boxes. So boom, it hit me. Why not put a box on my head? What would I look like if my head were a box?

Body Emotion - Fear

FEAR – from Body Emotion

It was after that first night that I began seeing and thinking more specifically how I might be able to convey emotions without facial expressions. So much of our lives is focused on faces. What can we say without faces? I’ve also always been a big believer in the power of body language.

So, I merged the two ideas and out came Body Emotions. I wanted to create a series of photographs depicting several base emotions of human life. All without the use of a face. It was a difficult project for me, and I shoot and re-shoot many many times. I shoot in both film and digital, often in the same night. I had to imagine lighting, body positions, clothing, and set. And, I had to do it all within the confines of my bedroom. It was a constraint that I gave myself. It also let me be more free with my body and more expressive without feeling awkward in some public situation, though I’ve often thought about extending the work to public places.

So I kept shooting and shooting until I had this nice large body of work and many different emotions. I then edited everything down to a base set. I worked both in the lab with prints and in Lightroom and Photoshop with digital images. Overall, it was a blast, and probably one of my most successful series.

Check out some more of my photography, and if you have questions yourself, let me know! I would love to hear from others about their own experiences.

Sweet Songs

June 17, 2011 | Tags: , ,

Here is a desktop wallpaper I created quite a while ago. The background image is from Fergal Claddagh, under a creative commons attribution-noncommercial-sharealike license. Please feel free to share and remix. This wallpaper is under the same license as above.

Road Trip to San Francisco

May 28, 2011 | Tags: , , , , ,

After completing my graduate requirements for my master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction Design, I headed out on a road trip in order to move to San Francisco. This post chronicles my journey across the American Southwest as I drove my Jetta, a UHaul trailor, and my dog towards California.

Warning, this post contains many large images. Some are beautiful, some are not. (more…)

Interview Tips for Interaction Designers

March 27, 2011 | Tags: , , ,

Recently I held a Wine and Interviews event at my house. I invited second year Interaction Design masters students over to talk about interviewing and share some wine. We each told stories about our interviewing experiences and learned quite a lot from each other. Following are some basic tips we talked about through our stories and experiences. These tips are not meant to be exhaustive, comprehensive, or applicable to every interview experience; rather they are meant to share the knowledge and experiences between fellow students. You likely already know many of these, but it’s good to be reminded and keep them in mind.

Spread the love, if you have tips to share leave them in the comments.

Projects, Stories, and Examples

Love Story ♡Have a good story about failure.

Have a project to talk about in detail.

Prepare your capstone elevator pitch.

It’s ok to talk about the thermostat project.

Have an elevator pitch for your capstone.

Have an example of some design documentation.

You might be asked to show a task flow or wireframe flow, be prepared.

You might be asked to show some usability test results.

Know Yourself

Design Process - Real WorldKnow your process.

Know your design philosophy.

  • 7 themes of design
  • user centered design
  • how do your position yourself within the field?
  • might be a good idea to weave project examples into your answers

Understand what you want from your future.

Before the Interview

Resume CritiqueTalk to Jeremy Podany!

  • he can be a private outside party
  • he can help you negotiate salaries and benefits
  • he will help!

Understand that a UI Designer is not the same as a UX Designer.

It really helps to research your interviewer when possible.

It’s ok to ask about the dress code for your interview.

It can help to know some basic visual design principles.

Get your resume critiqued by many people.

During the Interview

November 18, 2008 : TieBuild rapport with your interviewer.

  • change your perspective
  • remember that you will be peers and colleagues
  • try to find some common interests
  • ask questions
  • it’s ok to throw out some jokes
  • try not to be nervous
  • think of an interview more as a conversation

Jason Fried Discovery World Sketchnotes: Clarity & Simplicity

Take notes!

You will be exhausted.

It’s ok to ask for water during the interview.

Show that you are willing to learn.

Human Centered Shaving Design

October 4, 2010 | Tags: , ,

While shaving this morning, I had several “ah ha” moments. I decided to quickly jot these down on my blog for mere entertainment and fun. I’m probably not the first person to think about these things, but none-the-less, here they are for your reading enjoyment.

Day 305 - Mono Y Mono

image courtesy of lintmachine

[note: this post has absolutely nothing to do with anything that I'm actually working on]


My Failure or an Opportunity for Improvement?

September 27, 2010 | Tags: , , , , ,

As many of you know, my current capstone topic is about Discovering Local Music in a Digital Age. Upon glancing at the cover of today’s IDS (local student newspaper) I found this article, which covers a local music festival that was held just this weekend. However, I wasn’t in attendance. Why, because I didn’t freaking know about it!

image courtesy of amboo

My initial reaction is that I’m already failing at my capstone topic. If I was really interested and passionate about local music, wouldn’t I have know about and gone to the show? What does it say that I had no clue this was going on, and worse that I had no clue about the local music label Crossroads of America (XRA Records)? Does this mean that I’m really just not that into local music? Does it say that I’m not working hard on my capstone?

Or, does this show a really great design opportunity? What if more people (like me) had known about the ‘festival’? More importantly, why didn’t I hear about the show? What things could have helped me to learn about this event? Was this poor promotion on XRA’s side? Or am I really just out-of-tune with what’s going on in local music?

I don’t have the answers here, but this certainly frustrates me and stresses me out. It makes me re-think my feelings about my current capstone topic and question my commitment to it.

What do you think?

Pirate Themed Lego iPhone Dock

August 19, 2010 | Tags: , , , , ,

As an Experience Designer I often make things. Usually I make in order to better understand a design, or test out an idea that my team or I have had. I’ve built prototype designs using a myriad of tools including paper, foamcore, wire, photoshop, playdough, etc. Check out a project called Mirror Map to see some large prototypes made with paper, foamcore, and aluminum foil.

I’ve been wanting an iPhone dock ever since I bought an iPhone. However, I never wanted to shell out money for some boring dock to always sit on my desk. I wanted to dock my phone at times, but not in some boring white box. So, after returning home from my amazing internship at Mozilla and acquiring a new iPhone 4. I decided to make myself an iPhone dock.

For materials I used legos that I had sitting around. The base was built from a pirate themed lego package. Other supplies were used at random. I used the USB cord that came with my new phone as the connecting cord. In order to secure this cord into my lego contraption, I used some hot glue. This would allow me to dock and undock the phone using just one hand.

It works marvelously and looks super cool. Argggg!


Evacuation – A Dream

July 21, 2010 | Tags: , , , ,

A vivid dream from July 14, 2010. So vivid that I needed to write it down and sketch it out.

July 14, 2010

I was with a girl, in a skyscraper where her fathers business was housed. There was housing on the top floors. I remember some things about being nervous around her father. I remember we went to sleep together in the same bed looking out a window into the night sky. The earth shook. We both woke up thinking that this was our first earthquake. We decided it wasn’t much and went back to sleep. Seconds later we were jolted awake by some very loud noises. We somehow knew (from other people?) that we had to evacuate the building. I didn’t remember how to evacuate, so we just took off. We didn’t have on shoes and were wearing sleeping gear. I still had my pillow as we rushed down some stairs and outside. Everything was completely dark outside, but things were violently visible. The sky was full of a menacing black storm.