Week 11.

November 7, 2011

1.  I think that people need to be aware that once you put your pictures on the internet, they can be used totally out of context and for purposes you never imagined. For example–and this is mild–a couple years ago, I took a picture of my baby second cousin, and from the angle (and she was a newborn) she had the most insane crazy eyes you’ve ever seen. Bulging out of her face. Adorable and hilarious. Almost a year later, a friend I had not seen for months posted the same picture on my wall (on Facebook) and he had added lasers to the picture in photoshop, so it looked like the baby was shooting lasers out of her eyes like superman or something. Though I find the hole incident quite entertaining, I hesitate to show the laser-eye-baby picture to her mother, because I’m not sure she would approve. Though the consequences were not really bad, it shows that a picture of a child posted now can be taken out of context even years from now, and the person who put it on the internet will likely never know that the image was put in a different context.

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2.  I think one of the problems of sexuality as represented on the internet is that it is not necessarily a “real” situation. Regardless of pornography, sexualized images are often in advertising on all kinds of websites, of celebrities or unknowns, and they are usually shown in very unrealistic ways. Sometimes, when I see these kinds of images while online (even on the news pages!) I feel as if someone else’s fantasy has intruded in my personal space, unsolicited, on my screen. Sexualized images are all over the internet, which is a public space. I have always understood sex to be an intimate experience, yet having all this imagery emerge on people’s facebook pictures or in the ads next to them, makes me wonder if anyone else feels the way that I do. Should sex appeal be the default way to sell? Anyways, I believe that if both those disseminating the sexualized images and the viewers are not thinking critically, false expectations of sexuality can become internalized in viewer’s personal reality.

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3.  http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html

 After looking through this website a bit, I have come up with a few responses. First, the data presented is not complete: there should be adequate definitions of what is meant by terms like “pornography” and “adult,” so that it is clear what the data is measuring. Also, at the bottom the site states that the sources are credible “Statistics are compiled from the credible sources mentioned. In reality, statistics are hard to ascertain and may be estimated by local and regional worldwide sources.” Though the sources may be “credible” one can not simply cut and paste graphs without providing an adequate explanation as to the context of the data collection and an interpretation of the data–but this site does just that. There are no links anywhere near the graphs to the original studies; and there is not even a citation on any particular graph or table. Credibility can be claimed by anyone, but sources MUST be directly cited. Also, the overload of numbers and graphs seems to be to intentionally overwhelm the viewer, without any interest in the actual consequences of pornography. This site serves little to provide concrete knowledge about pornography, and it seems the intention is only to incite hysteria regarding the “takeover” of pornography on the internet all over the world.

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4.  Some of people’s fears about teenagers and the internet are based on only a few extreme cases, such as cyber-bullying that caused a teen suicide. These instances are great news stories, but they do not necessarily speak for the uses of the internet by the whole population. The internet can be used as an open arena for aggression or for positive interaction–and so it is used for both. The distance caused by virtual interactions can be a good way for someone who is regularly shy to speak their mind; however they may not have anything nice to say. One of the biggest worries, at least to me, is that teens who put explicit images of themselves on the internet are setting themselves up for scandal in the future. When my mom was asked to hire a new employee, the first thing she did was check out what was public on their Facebook, and I believe this is becoming a much more common practice. You can only control your virtual audience so much, if at all.

I did not post pictures on the internet as a teenager. I had many many digital pictures, but I was never interested in the Myspace craze. I only got into Facebook because my sister moved far away, and then I moved away from home, so it was an easier way to keep in touch with many people. Now I post lots of pictures on Facebook and my blog(s), but I am very careful in what I choose to post, and try to be respectful of others who are in my pictures to only post what they would also deem appropriate. Just because you can post pictures of every aspect of your life and body, doesn’t mean you should.

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5.  Technology has revealed that people who choose to hurt others will use whatever mode they have access to to do so. People talk crap about each other via internet chatting and messaging, send pictures of other people without permission, and even purposely misquote people. In terms of the hurtful use of photographs, technology does open the door for immediate dissemination to thousands, as opposed to whoever would see an image in its physical print form. In that sense, technologies of the internet and cell phones have amplified the effects of image use. However, the positive use of images through these same means has also been amplified, so it is hard to say, definitively, which side of the ethical line technology stands.

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6.  I use picture messaging for communicating with my family and friends who live far away. I take pictures of things I find interesting or funny, or relate to some inside joke, etc. I take and send picture messaging with my phone several times a week (now that I’m using it for my final project), but normally I use it once a week or so.

Week 10.

November 7, 2011

1.  Stephen Marc discussed public art using his own work as examples of ways to make photographic works that benefit the community, can be produced large scale, and gave tips to help us make winning proposals. Stephen emphasized that a large body of work can take years to produce, and may never be complete. With his Transatlantic Railroad project, the final product was a published book–but complete pieces (digital montages) can be submitted for public art proposals, sold separately, etc. The act of going out and making work–interacting with many people in many cities, if done with the right attitude, will open up new opportunities in the future.

Stephen’s working process is very interesting to me. The use of digital montage to selectively take aspects of images and piece them together in a particular context is quite appealing to me. He combines photographs he took of people, photographs of historical photographs, photographs of historical documents, and photographs of historical places. All of these elements are tactfully compiled to compare and contrast the present and the past, and to bring awareness to local histories all over the country. Though I do not plan on traveling the country to photograph with his intensity, it is the use of digital technology to seamlessly layer these elements that I hope to incorporate into my working practice.

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2.  When I was a child, my mom was the designated family photographer. My dad has a history of utterly destroying cameras, either by dropping them on concrete or in rivers. He also has been to known to use trash cans as the foreground for mountains (in spite of this, I actually find his pictures compelling, and he has since developed his use of composition via cell phone photography). We had professional pictures done a couple of times I remember, but the majority of photos from my childhood were school pictures and pictures taken for special events (holidays, birthdays, visiting Grandma, vacation, the first and last days of school, concerts/plays, etc.) I am not sure what kind of camera my mom used, but it was a some kind of simple point and shoot color film camera. We didn’t do much photo sharing, but she would have several copies of her favorites made so she could send one to grandma, put one on the fridge, frame one for dad’s office, etc.

There are fewer photographs of my dad as a kid than my mom–at least that I have seen. My dad had a large family, and lived in a small town in New Mexico. I don’t think there was much of a tradition of family photography in his family, at least in comparison to my mom’s family. My mom’s aunt and uncle never had kids, and he had this beautiful 16mm camera that he would use to document the nieces and nephews and his travels. He got into still photography too, and I think that the family was used to being photographed, and continued documenting events and random moments themselves.

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3.  My mom went to college for interior design, and took a lot of art and design classes. She was the main picture-taker of the family. Sometimes she would dress me and my sisters up so that she could take a nice picture that she would give to my dad for his birthday. Or she would photograph us (the kids) in front of a building or mountain or wherever it was we had traveled to on a road trip, or when we moved she would take pictures of the house. Her main concern seemed to be the tasteful documentation of special moments, events, milestones. By the time I got my first digital camera, way back when, I became the designated family photographer (because I was always taking pictures anyway. The problem was, I was usually too distracted by everything else around me to take pictures of my actual loved ones! This has sort of changed, in that I deliberately photograph my family so I don’t miss out on my opportunities).

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4.  My old family photos bring me back to times that I hardly remember, and to memories that I cherish. Since most of our family photos were during high points, the good times or when we were emerging from a transition (moving), looking at them brings positive feelings. It’s when I began photographing my own experiences that I remember more details about the situation that sometimes include negative memories. For example, times I took pictures and family members had been arguing, and even though they are smiling like all is well, I remember what happened outside of the frame.

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5.  Now, I am the primary photographer in my family. Sometimes this is a lot of pressure, and it is super inconvenient that my family lives all over the country. However, when we get together I always take pictures of everyone, and usually hand off the camera for a group shot. My middle sister takes a lot more pictures now, since she got married and was missing out on family photographs she got a camera. Her pictures resemble my moms in that they are usually taken to document special events, when everyone’s dressed up, or travel. We don’t use film for family photography now, and cell phones are actually really important for our documentations of experience. We send each other pictures via email, and sometimes I give my family photo cds (my photos take up a lot more space than emails allow). Now some photos end up on facebook, but we don’t post everything (except my sister, I think she posts almost everything from a particular event). We definitely take a LOT more pictures than ever, since digital pictures are nearly free to share via internet, and you don’t feel quite so bad when the pictures don’t turn out well. There is less risk, less cost, and good quality digital photos have never been cheaper to produce.

Week 9.

November 7, 2011

Pets are members of my family, so I searched “Pet Family Photograph” I know I’m only supposed to post 5, but I couldn’t help myself!

Week 8.

October 16, 2011

This class has been a great source of information on how to deal with digital images, and a great source for thought on how images function in the digital realm. This blog has been an open space for me to speak my mind freely on everything discussed in class, and I greatly value the ability to read the blogs of other classmates. It is helpful to see how others are approaching each assignment and each aspect of class discussions. There is not a lot of time in class for everyone to express their opinions and thoughts, so having the ability to read more into each individual’s view is invaluable.

My ideas relating to my final project are still quite vague, but I am hoping to use a combination of collaborative photographs as well as ones I make as an individual. The use of images to communicate is very important to me. I communicate with my family with pictures all the time, and they do the same. I haven’t settled on my guidelines yet, but I want to display this communication in some sort of book form, relating to this idea of using digital pictures to talk to loved ones and vice versa.

About half way through each semester, I get very homesick. I start to miss fall at home in Washington, and I miss my family much more painfully than usual. To deal with the separation, I usually end up making artwork that relates to members of my family, or to the experience of being away from them. So, here are some pictures I took at home that simultaneously satisfy my need for a connection to Washington and make it’s void in more noticeable.

Week 7.

October 16, 2011

There are many societal advantages of digital creation and dissemination of images, and each come with a catch.

1) Freedom of the press. Governments that try to suppress freedom of speech w propaganda have less control; people share images and video of events etc without the permission of the government, so there is more accountability for institutions at fault. However, since these photos are taken and distributed by nonprofessionals,  their credibility may be just as questionable as there are no precautions to prevent extreme changes in the images that are untrue.

2) Ease and efficiency of digital reproduction. The development of digital technology has proven to be extremely cost effective when it comes to making photographs and using them. Digital images are cheaper to produce and reproduce. However, since pictures are so easy to reproduce and distribute digitally, especially through the internet, there has been great chaos and reconfiguring of copyright laws and their implications. The respect of intellectual property is often neglected by internet users, and many use photographs unethically and thoughtlessly, without attributing the maker.

3) Self publishing. Anyone can share images. (+) not as limited by publishers and the “system” of who can and can’t be published. (-) there is a LOT of garbage to weed through, since almost everyone who creates and disseminates digital images is less concerned with the quality of the images or the message the image conveys, and more concerned with getting a lot of images out at once. Even in a family vacation album on Facebook, for example, which is not intended to be high quality images, the viewer usually quickly clicks through a mass of images and stops on the most interesting ones. Those posting the albums don’t always weed through the images themselves, and present an edit containing their favorites, but instead upload everything that was on the memory card. This means the viewer has to simultaneously view and enjoy the images while creating their own edit, by either looking at a particular image longer than a second or by “liking” or commenting on it.

Personally, it is a good thing that anybody and everybody can digitally create and disseminate images. However, as a photography student, sometimes it is difficult to look at pictures my family and friends post without art criticisms floating in my head. I’m not just talking about technical quality here, but what these images say about this person and what they communicate visually–sometimes it is no where near what the author actually intended. Visual language in digital imagery seems to go unnoticed. Most people respond only to what the subject of the picture is or whether it is a “nice” picture, not whether it can mean something outside of what is in it.

My immediate family currently spans across 3 countries and 2 continents, so sharing pictures is very important to our communication with each other and keeping up with each other’s lives. We often send pictures via SMS messages, email, messages, and post pictures on Facebook. We connect across thousands of miles through still images. The same goes for my closest friends and I–we send each other pictures or post them to show what we have been up to, something we found strange, or something we came across that others would find interesting.

In my artistic practice, I try to post images of my work and works in progress on Facebook and my blog (similarslice.wordpress.com) and I also send them to family and friends who I think would be most interested. Last year I even did a photo project using cell phone pictures my dad sent me from work (in eastern Canada). Receiving and repurposing the images with new meaning was a means of connecting and responding to our relationship as father and daughter, as well as the vast distance between us.

Here are a few photoblogs that I have recently retrieved from cyberspace:

http://www.jingz.de

This blog has lots and lots of pictures. The photographer describes himself as a hobbiest. His pictures convey a sense of quiet curiosity in the surrounding things, and goes beyond random pictures of random things. Though there seems to be a tendency to use trendy color profiles to make things look cool, it is not used enough to be anything more than slightly irritating. That said, I wouldn’t mind looking at this blog often.

blog.laurenskuipers.nl

I found this blog very enjoyable to wander through. There are many photos taken in Europe, but the photographer does not show the token pictures of monuments and famous places; instead finding more abstract compositions that often utilize people in structure.

http://www.pdnphotooftheday.com

This site posts a photo, or a photo set, every single day. They have a great variety of images, so everyone can find something they find interesting. I liked the “uncategorized” category most, as the pictures do not fit strictly within other categories. As a viewer, you weren’t sure what to expect next, unlike visiting the “travel” or “landscape” categories.

We talked about several artists in class who use images from the internet in their artwork.

Elijah Gown has done several projects in which he uses pictures from the internet and physically and digitally alters them, to create new objects and to reassign meaning to them. One series he made, called Watering, used pictures of Christian baptisms in water to explore the human need to connect with nature and rituals. I found his process to be quite interesting because he prints out the digitally altered low-res images on paper, and then scans them to add the texture of fiber, which softens the imagery. The degradation of the imagery by processing it several times strips the images as documents and re-presents these scenes as the essence of a spiritual experience.

Jane Lindsay, a grad student here at ASU, is currently working on a project that also remakes images taken from the internet. There is a website that was created by a government agency (www.mcso.org) that posts mugshots of arrested persons–not convicted persons. The site encourages the humiliation and dehumanization of these people, and is not simply a public source for mugshots. Jane has been making tintype plates of dozens of these portraits, cutting out their names and any other information, and cutting them in circles to be placed in bottle caps. She thinks of the bottle caps as items that are discarded, as are the people in the portraits. Tintype is a historic process that was heavily used for portraiture in the 19th century; by using this labor intensive process and by giving each portrait special attention, she gives humanity back to the so-called criminals.

Week Six.

October 12, 2011

Google image search of the following words:  energy, merge, squander, ponder, frequent.

Energy.   Most images in this search were related to A) Renewable energy sources (wind and solar power) and B) Energy drinks. There were also numerous images of light trails (apparently light energy is the easiest to capture in a photograph. Go figure.) There were also a few images here and there that kind of seemed to fit, but in a less direct way.

I would have to say that the Eye of Sauron is my favorite, because it was entirely unexpected yet visually fits with many of the other images that came up in the search. And I’m a nerd.

Merge. The greater majority of images were screenshots. There were also a good number of street signs, as well as a few odd images here and there.

Squander. There doesn’t seem to be a certain kind of image that comes up in this search. There are a lot of images with people in them, and there are a lot with no people. Here are a few from the first page:

Ponder. Most of these are as expected, the typical “ponder” gesture of a hand on the chin or sitting on the edge of some fantastic nature scene. I was hoping for some more abstract images, but I suppose I would have to look much farther in the results to see that.

Frequent. I really did not know what to expect, but there were a lot of images related to travel (probably because of frequent flier miles) and then there were a lot of toilets. Then, like each search, there were a few outliers that make the search more interesting.

Google Search using an image. I searched using a picture of my bunny. The search results were very similar in color scheme and composition, and a few even had fluffy animals. I searched a few other of my pictures, and so far the program recognizes general shapes, composition (ie. centered), colors, and even textures. I am actually pretty excited to use this tool, and will probably spent a lot of time playing with it.

Week Five.

October 11, 2011

War Photography.

I read the news….less often than I should. I rarely search out photos regarding current wars, because I know that they will deeply disturb me, and there is nothing that I can do for anyone in the pictures. Some of the photos we looked at in class from the past 100 years of war photography were extremely familiar to me, partially because I have taken many photography classes, and some are so striking and recurrent in the media as icon or propaganda that one could hardly not recognize the image.

After reluctantly doing a google image search for Abu Ghraib, my general reaction is that of horror and anger. The images show members of the military posing with dead prisoners, torturing others and generally documenting scenes that dehumanize  the prisoners. The military persons are in positions of power, while the prisoners express helplessness and humiliation.

One of the images I found most striking was this one:

The photograph features a woman wearing recognizably military clothing, standing in a hallway holding a rope that is tied around the neck of a middle eastern man lying on the floor. He appears to be wearing no clothes, and is trying to prop himself up on his hand. It looks as though the photograph was taken after the man had been drug across the floor, and he is attempting to stabilize himself. The open barred doors of the hallway behind, the messiness of papers scattered about, also contribute to the uneasiness of the photograph. I chose this image to repost because it seems to characterize the horrible acts committed at Abu Ghraib but also because it characterizes that aspect of every human that has the capacity to do unspeakable things to other humans. Americans can be excessive in pride but neglect the inherent capabilities of of all humans (even Americans) to do unforgivable things.

Simon Norfolk is a war photographer who makes pictures of terrible things that are beautiful. He photographs destroyed cities and residual elements of warfare in a way that is exceptionally breathtaking. They are simply beautiful photographs. Norfolk is both praised and criticized for his gorgeous pictures, as the beauty of the photograph can mask the devastation while glorifying the act of war. However, I think the aesthetic ease of the images can also draw in viewers who may have simply moved on, and by examining the wonderful tonalities, colors, and compositional elements, one is also forced to look at the emptiness of the destroyed spaces. By forcing viewers to appreciate the lovely picture, Norfolk simultaneously forces a kind of memorization of the scene, embedding conflicting emotions of pleasure and disgust.

I read the article written by Florence Waters, “Death of the Historic War Photograph.” Waters discusses the impact of images on the internet on the impression war photography makes on its viewers. She writes:

Our current obsession with trying to prove that war photographs of the past are fakes too, shows that we have entered an age where we are far too concerned with truth and lies to dwell on the moment of suffering.

The danger with this attitude is, of course, even when the truth is staring us in the face we might all too easily bury it along with the rest of the internet duds, without sparing a thought for the dead.”

People do seem more preoccupied with the veracity of photographs than the meaning they are meant to communicate, especially concerning war photography. It is also important to note the vast quantities of photographs of current events available; if an image is too unsettling, one can simply click “next” and move on, whereas in the past some of the most striking images were published in multiple places and there were generally fewer images to look through.

 

Photographic anxiety: should we worry about image abundance?.

So far this week.

September 13, 2011

Week Four.

September 12, 2011

1. Write a few sentences about each presentation.

Group 1.  Images included mostly advertisements, family photos, and labels. The student included everything, yet encountered fewer images than he expected. He said he thought there would be more photographs everywhere. The images seemed to reflect less of the character of the student, and more of what was seen during regular activities in regular places (Costco + Scottsdale).

Group 2.  Most of the images were taken in the mall (Arizona Mills). They can be found at every turn; they are dramatic, with attractive models and bright colors. This student actively found images to encounter, and therefore to photograph. In the context of the mall, most photographs were used as elements of an advertisement, with text and other graphics, instead of being viewed exclusively as photographs. The student chose a public place where many go often and see photographs without realizing it. Even though it was not necessarily a regular day for the student, it reflected an experience with photographs that an average person might have.

Group 3. The student paid much attention to the framing of her pictures, which included storefronts, the internet, ads, labels, magazines, etc. The viewer can assume the imagemaker’s interests, food preferences, what she searched online, photographs that may be her own (opened in photoshop) etc. However, in reality, she may not have chosen any of the objects but simply observed them.

Group 4. The student included images of ads, the internet, fashion, celebrities, family photos, movies, food packaging, posters, etc. There were tons of images. The student reframed the photographs in their images, so in rephotographing photographs the viewer might be under the illusion that it is the original. This portrayal of photographs gave a kind of experience with each picture, with little context as to where it was taken.

Group 5.  The students images contained DVDs, restaurants, Starbucks, etc. Since we know the images were made in a 24 hr. period, viewers know that many images made in one place might imply a long period of time spent in that place. There were pictures taken all over Starbucks, of ads and posters geared towards employees, so by the images alone one could guess that the student worked there that day. Class thoughts:  how revealing is this one day out of the context of a person’s life? It could represent hundreds of similar days, or one unusual day–there is just no way to know by looking at the images.

Group 6.  The student included images taken of the internet, food labels, posters etc. at school, while driving. A few images included a hand holding up the object with a photograph on it, the student was showing the audience something specific to their experience.

Group 7. The student showed TONS of pictures of a computer screen with tons of photos on it. His photos accurately represented  the experience of searching the internet. There were a few other pictures, but most were of a computer screen. He said, “I tried to take a picture while driving, but…” “—It takes practice,” said Betsy.

Group 8. This student showed many images that were taken in her former workplace, an ad agency. She said working there made her more aware of advertisements, which were also numerous in her image presentation. She noted that doing this assignment made her “hyper aware” of the photographs around her.

Group 9. The student’s images were taken with a tight composition; there was not much context, so the viewer could make various assumptions about where the photograph was encountered, what it was a part of, who put it there. There were many many many computer screen photos, since the student actively searched for images on the internet. The presentation revealed the overwhelming nature of images experienced on the internet.

Group 10. Most images included were of posters, CD and DVD cases. Some context was included in the frame. The student attempted a few photos at work (Target) but encountered more than photographs, he got in trouble for ignoring security policies of in-store photography. In the class discussion, Betsy made a point that “we give up our right to photograph yet we’re photographed the minute we walk in…”

Group 11. This student included lots of newsprint ads, with no context, even photographs on the wall, on books, etc. They even photographed a show at the Step Gallery that was about high tuition rates. (“High tuition makes my cat sad.”)

2. What is the overall impression you get after watching the presentations? Do you feel overwhelmed? How did people address the assignment differently?

After watching the presentations, I definitely felt overwhelmed, especially by the images of computer screens. It is amazing how much data can bombard our brains in a single day; and that we have to filter what we pay attention to and what we remember. Otherwise, we would spend more time paying attention to images all around us (like the day of the 24 hr assignment) than doing anything else. This assignment showed us what would happen if we had zero filters, if every photograph had equal value, if we had to pay attention to everything in sight.

The assignment sounds like it could be objective, but there were several decisions each student made when going about carrying it out. First, each chose a day to dedicate to this assignment. Some chose days they stayed at home, others chose days they went to school or work. This choice dictated the majority of the photographs each person encountered. Second, each student, to some degree, either actively searched out places that would have many photographs (or retreated to somewhere they knew there would be few photographs), or they went about their day as they would normally. The assignment did not force one to do one or the other, however students had various experiences according to their own choices. Finally, some students showed the surrounding area of the photograph, say that it was lying on the ground or on a shelf; whereas others chose to crop out any information regarding where and how the image was encountered. Again, neither is right or wrong, but each way guides the assumptions made by viewers of the presentations.

3. How did you address the assignment, and how was it similar/different to others? What was the effect on you of creating the assignment and observing others?

I tried to do the assignment 3 different days. The first, I spent the morning photographing every photograph as I was supposed to, but as my day got busier and busier I would realized that I missed a photograph because I wasn’t paying attention (I was doing whatever I needed to do that day.) By the third try, I had conditioned myself enough to be aware and ready to take every picture I needed to. On one hand, I was more ready to take on the assignment for a full day, on the other, I felt almost as if I could not do much else but look, seek, and notice any photographs. Thinking back, I probably would have used the internet on a normal day, and encountered photographs there, but I think the idea of having to take a picture of every image I saw online was…exhausting. I think I avoided it. I’m not sure if that is good or bad, since I notice photographs so much more because of this assignment (which, I believe, was the point of the assignment).

I tried to vary the amount of context I revealed, but it seemed that some students chose context or no context exclusively. I think I was more interested in the images that showed at least a little context, because it allowed my mind to make connections to other images and to experience the image more like the student did when they took the picture. The experience of the photograph as a part of an object was more interesting to me than the reframing of an existing composition.