Redefining the Classroom

For Sault High photo intern . . . lights, camera, action!

Posted: January 1st, 2014

CALL OF THE LIGHTS – Sault Area high school student Kati Doty poses with the tools of a photographer's trade. She is a photo intern in Lake Superior State University's public relations office through June. One of her assignments explored controlling light in a studio throughout a series of scenes that mix motion, color, lighting and, most importantly, whimsy. Doty is one of 23 Sault High students placed this semester into field experiences with area businesses and agencies through the Less Than Class Size program, now in its 20th year. (LSSU/John Shibley)

A print-resolution photo that runs with the caption above can be found by clicking here.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Kati Doty is the 20th intern we've had in the PR office through Sault High's program. When an intern comes on board, I usually try to tap a creative outlet that will help them grow in photography or, sometimes, writing. Some students take a shining to landscape photography; others, sports, news, or long-form feature photos. Kati was attracted to studio lights, so I teamed her up with Helena Wollan, a marketing/fine arts LSSU student who's been working for our office since last fall. Wollan brings an internship experience at GLAMOUR magazine into the mix. Kati has found a mentor in her. I turned the two loose on an exploration in lighting, make-up, props, and color with two of Kati's high school friends. Kati is now measurably more confident in working with light, and not just in a studio. Look for Helena's fashion work this spring in a show she is organizing. Enjoy!)

Kati notes: A picture frame draws attention to Ella's dramatic face. It also creates a canted window within the window of the image frame. Ella's makeup is a subtle yet intense statement. With everyday make-up, we usually see diffuse flesh tones with intense colors relegated (think eyeliner, lipstick) into roles of subtle accents. No subtlety here. Swatches of color and splotches of black creep over Ella's face. (All photos LSSU PR intern Kati Doty)

This candid shot shows the studio layout and the girls' ease with the photo shoot. The lighting creates a soft, continually changing shadow behind the subjects, and gives the illusion of a fabric background, especially with the foreground tears. The backdrop is actually crinkly paper. The girls were having fun and goofing around, and it was nice to capture that and still echo my other photos with the high contrast and sharpness.

This is one of my favorite photos. The whole scene looks haunting, set off by a ghost-like shadow behind her, an awkward yet graceful stance, and a deer-in-the-headlights expression. It gives the viewer a lot to think about and question. What's contrived and what's genuine? Does a photographer set out capture drama or satire? Is Ella "mugging it" for fun or actually attempting serious glamour? Maybe all of this gets answered by the viewer's point of view. Regardless, the picture's high contrast creates a sharp look. Ella's stray strands of hair add a little more dimension.

Having fun with weird props was a main goal of this shoot. By taking a bright-colored lipstick and planting a smooch on a plain old CD, this photo becomes bright, metallic, and fun. As with most of my photos, contrast plays a big role in making the photo pop. Having just the CD and Ella's hand in focus, with her in the background in soft focus, adds depth and dimension.

This photo was entirely a mess-up. My flashes didn't fire correctly, nor was Ella expecting me to take the photo. However, this outtake became a favorite photo for both of us. The half-shadow creates a creeping darkness offset by bright, almost bleached light on the subject. Ella's expression seems to answer the approaching dark. Is she about to say something before being cut off? Of course not. She wasn't even aware of the dark void until we discovered it on the camera's display. As a visual metaphor, then, this photo can be viewed as hopeful as well as hopeless, and that's what I love about it – the ambiguity.

When I look at this photo I see important contrasts that are due expressions and lighting. Both girls show signs of strength as well as weakness. Ella echoes her framed scene from five photos up, but this time imposes it on Melina. Ella looks resolute. Melina looks hesitant and entirely unaware of the upper hand Ella exerts over her. Flesh tones disappear into black nothingness. And what's with Ella's shadows? One is oversized and distinct (left) while the other is smaller, more diffuse and almost withered with regret. The more you look the more you see. Body language is very important with this one.

Facial texture and color are the main highlights of this photo. The various studio flashes created crazy shadows on their faces, adding depth. The girls' fun-loving friendship is shown through their intertwined hands, as well as through their relaxed body language. The texture in the hair is another thing that stands out for me about this photo.

This was another complete mess-up. The girls were just goofing around waiting for me to fix an issue with the flash. The boundary between light and dark creates emotional embrace that is almost relaxing and welcoming, which is reinforced by the girls' expressions.

There are obvious points - Melina's expression and her bright makeup, coupled with high contrast - that create an initial visual solution to this photo. But then, keep looking. Pay particular attention to how Melina's hair is draped over an impossibly enlarged right shoulder. Photoshop fail? Nope. It's the back and hair of Ella, who is hugging Melina and effectively obscured by a radiant smile. Our subconscious assumptions lock-in visual cues early on to hide what's in plain sight.

This photo is a small exploration with art affects found in Photoshop. I created multiple layers to provide the sepia, green, and purple undertones, as well as the lens flare. All of this adds an air of dreaminess and whimsy. The sunglasses, hats, stance and expressions of the girls adds emotional elements.

The main point of this photo is to stop her hair in mid-air by using the flash as a strobe. The texture of Melina's hair flying through the air; the deep and contrasted colors, and the movement was what I enjoy the most. Hair is so fun to play with because it takes so much to get it ready for a photo, and then we go and mess it up to get shots like this.

This is another experiment with movement. Melina is a dancer, and wanted to try some of her moves to see what we could come up with. The hair is the main thing showing the movement; that, and the fact that she is suspended in mid air. The crazy shadow behind her adds dynamic depth.

The frame in this photo is a main element: it directs the viewer where to look and casts beautiful shadows on Melina's face that are coupled with her intense makeup and expression. I see strength, confidence, and power.

Three strong points in this photo: the bright and colorful CD playfully being bitten rather than kissed with lipstick; the contrast and color of her makeup as well as her expression; and the messy, tousled hair. These elements make the shot fun to look at.

Another hair-in-motion shot. Melina's movement and the texture of her hair make the photo what it is – a study in stop action. This gets layered with a coy expression and the crazy makeup colors and contrast. Contrast this photo with the one three scenes above that relies on anonymity and pure motion.

This photo screams power – the intense stance, face, and makeup create a solid base for the photo, while hair is whipping around and taking charge. I made this photo high in contrast to add to the feel of power. The shadow mimics her and looks almost masculine.


CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315.