Photography has always been something that I have enjoyed, but life has caused me to lose touch with my favorite hobby. Recently, I was able to take a class at Foothill College, which rekindled my love for the art form. Here is a collection of my favorite photos I was able to capture this past year.
Shooting at Night
I really enjoy playing with light and going for dramatic compositions. I tend to lean toward darker photos with lots of shadows and an interesting light source. I have recently become fond of night photography. In the past, night photography has been intimidating to me, but after learning different techniques to shoot at night it has become enjoyable.
Using Natural Light
These series of photos were taken in the San Joaquin Valley, specifically the Visalia and Kaweah Lake regions. I was born and raised in Visalia, CA, an agricultural town near Sequoia National Park. When I was young Visalia was significantly smaller in size than it is now, which meant there wasn’t much to do, so we spent a lot of time outdoors. I have so many fond memories of going up to Kawaeh Lake to ride the boats with my Dad or go fishing with my Grandpa, floating down St. Johns River, or going up to water holes with family and friends to withstand the summer heat. My sister still lives in Visalia and has told me how dry Kaweah Lake and St. Johns River is, but I had no idea it would be this bad. I haven’t visited these parts of my hometown in over 10 years, so it was very sad to see my favorite spots in this condition. While the entire state has been affected in some way, the valley has taken the biggest hit, to the point where people have actually run out of water. My Grandma is one of many who have experienced this, but she was lucky because they were able to dig and reach deeper ground water. For many in Porterville this isn’t the case. Additionally, the pollution has gotten worse. In some of the photos you will notice the background is hazy, this is a thick layer of pollution that covers the entire San Joaquin Valley. From Visalia we used to be able to see the Sierra Nevada’s clearly, now you can barely see Badger Hill, a small hill just outside of Exeter. Things are so different now in comparison to when I was a child, and it seems to be getting worse at a rapid rate.
This is the lowest I have seen the water at Kaweah Lake. There is a small truck in the foreground that helps determine the scale of what this lake once was. This entire area used to be completely full of water. Also, I couldn't help but notice how murky the sky is from pollution.
My two sons sitting in a spot that used to be covered by water. For me this was a summer oasis full of my fondest memories, their reality is vastly different.
Kaweah Oaks Preseve
This photo was taken at the Kaweah Oaks Preserve right outside of Visalia. This place used to be lush, green, and full of wildlife. Now it is dry and dying. This picture shows a tree that didn't survive a wildfire back in June.
St. Johns River
For Visalia residents floating down St. Johns River is a right of passage. It's something that all teenagers do, but not anymore. I have never seen it empty and was in shock to see it in this condition.
There is a trail that runs parallel to the river and one of my favorite things to do was to jog on this trail.
Even though we have gotten lots of rain this winter, the San Jaoquin Valley is still not out of the woods just yet. The excessive rain has caused additional problems for the people of the valley- my friends and family.
The Work of Professionals
Parks was a photojournalist between 1940 and 1970 who focused on civil rights, poverty, and African-Americans. He went on to become the first African American to produce and direct major motion pictures.
Arbus is known for photographing people on the frindge of society. Unfortunately her work wasn't recognized properly until after her suicide.
An excerpt from an essay I wrote about Diane Arbus:
In 1967 Diane was chosen to showcase her work in one MoMA’s first big photography exhibits called “New Documents.” She gained a lot of attention from this, but there still wasn’t a market for this type of photography and her photos were priced at a measly $50 to $75 each. It wasn’t until after her suicide that her photos sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. On July 26th, 1971 Diane wrote “Last Supper” in her diary, overdosed on barbiturates, and slit her wrists. No one knows exactly why she killed herself, some think it may have to do with discovering her daughter Doon was having a relationship with her friend Marvin, or because her divorce with Allen was recently finalized, and to me, it doesn’t matter. What does is that Diane Arbus never got the recognition she deserved while she was alive. During a time when society was more conservative, she pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable as art. She revealed hidden worlds that would have gone unnoticed if it wasn’t for her. She forced the public to see those who were marginalized, or treated as pariahs, which made many people uncomfortable showing how quick we are to dismiss what we don’t understand. Like the photo of the man dressed as woman, which is especially relevant today, as it challenges the ideas of gender. Her work was gritty, raw, and radical. She was ahead of her time. Although, some try to reduce her to a voyeur and someone who simply exploited people that were physically "abnormal". To me, she is quite the opposite, in that she allowed people who society deemed as “ugly” to stare straight at the camera, without insecurity, showing off who they were and what they looked like to be seen and considered.