When I first approached this topic, my initial impression of “my people” was my ancestors. I pictured old black-and-white and sepia photos of unsmiling immigrants. Those are the people from which I descend and to which I feel very connected in many ways. But these aren’t people I can photograph – most of them are still thousands of miles across the ocean, and I while I feel connected to them for a lot of reasons, they are not the people I am surrounded by most often.
While thinking through this, I realized that at this moment in time, what “my people” really means, to me at least, is the people I surround myself daily. Thus I decided to go about this as a simple mission to capture portraits of close friends that best capture what I feel to be their personality, as well as the context in which I interact with them on a regular basis. In acquiring my photos for this project, I decided not to plan out when I would take pictures, but instead allow the situation to pop up, and showcase a typical day surrounded by these people.
I’m not much of a photographer, but I knew that I wanted each picture to have vibrant, sharp characteristics. I found that this felt more natural to me than approaching more shadowed pictures with cooler tints or perhaps black-and-white filters. My relationships with my friends are bright and loud and, even in calmer times and settings, colorful and interesting, and I wanted the composition of my pictures to accurately reflect that. Additionally, because I tried not to specifically plan when I would take these photos in order to make them more candid, I could rarely control the lighting or composition of the original photo, so I had to make changes to their composition on the computer.
When editing my pictures, I paid special attention to sharpening the quality of the photo, increasing saturation, and giving most of them warmer tints. Depending on the photo, I also upped the contrast to make the colors stand out more. Additionally, I altered some of the shadows on the pictures to make them a little brighter without washing them out, as well as make it easier to accentuate their coloring.
Because of this, I chose not to make my pictures incredibly diverse in their composition. I wanted them all to be colorful – and not only in terms of literal colors, but in the subjects as well. Two of my pictures have white backgrounds, but the expressions of the people, both captured candidly, stand out to me as worthwhile additions to my set, because I believe that they stand out as much as some of the pictures that are more colorful in composition, but have less of the close up emotion that these pictures do.
Thus I feel that while my photos are not incredibly diverse in composition, I believe that they are diverse in the moods and attitudes that they convey. I wanted most of these pictures to be candid because I feel like they best showcase a typical conversation or event with my friends, my “people.” I think that candid photographs are the most organic and accurate ways to describe my relationships with these people, and the types of attitudes and emotions with which I surround myself. I wanted to capture various emotions, both with single subjects and between multiple people, to convey a typical day surrounded by “my people.”