Sunday, March 21, 2010


This week's assignment was about layering. When I heard this, I had several ideas. But while I was walking around with my camera throughout the week, nothing really popped out at me...Until Wednesday evening, St. Patrick's Day.
It would be a lie to tell you I wasn't enjoying some green beer like everyone else, but I also had my camera with me, ready to shoot if something seemed appropriate for the assignment. While walking through the Lexington Ridge Apartment complex, I found a party in building Q. Inside, there were various people playing beer pong. I realized immediately that I loved the layering on the table. So I started shooting.
The first thing that struck me was how hard it is to get random people, who are unaccustomed to me and my camera to STOP LOOKING AT ME. Obviously we all have this problem from time-to-time, but usually people who are the subject of a photo story are told to ignore the camera and just go along with their day; they get it pretty quickly. But it has obviously been hard-wired into the brains of all college kids at CMU that Camera = Stare. Wish this wasn't the case :) So, it took me a good 15 or 20 minutes of just pretending to take photos for people to finally get the point. I didn't even press that button, but they didn't know that. Even after this, there were a few times the party-attendees still reverted back to the staring-mentality.
But here's what I got:

This is Jim Gerhart, 26, and Jough Lenneman, 32. They are both students at CMU.
I'm really happy with this photo because of all the layers, not just one. The beer cans, the cups, the two guys, the ball in the air (my favorite part), the paper towel roll, even the festive CMU banner on the wall. It all adds together well, in my mind at least, to something that really shows that night and how intensely these guys were taking their beer-ponging.
So, hopefully you like it as much as I do. And don't worry, they won the game by three cups :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Moments and moments and moments and...

For this assignment, I knew I was going to be shooting with one of my models, Melany. We were going to do two different shoots within a day, one with casual clothing in low lighting and one running outside (Melany loves to run marathons, so I knew she would be my best bet for getting some work-out clothing).
I also went to MPPA on Friday and took some shots of random moments in the lives of the people around me.
While I had several moments from my shots with Melany, I found one from the MPPA shots that I just loved. Here it is:
This is Sara Winkler, a senior here at CMU. While eating lunch at Chipotle in East Lansing, I saw her just staring out the window. With all the noise and chaos around her, this moment was so quiet. As soon as I chimped it, I knew this was my shot. I've been sitting here for almost an hour looking through all my other moments, but I keep coming back to this one. So this is what we're going with :) Hope you (and she) like it!

Camera stats: F 6.3, shutter speed 125, ISO 400.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

*Messing with the lights.

Our first assignment for JRN 521 was to experiment with dynamic lighting.
The first thing I decided to do with this project was shoot indoors without my bounce flash. Ever since I got my strobe a year and a half ago, we've spent too much time together. I decided it was time to remember how to shoot indoors using the light that was available to me and nothing else.
So, I went to the U Cup and found Catheryn Currell, a graduate student who is working on her dissertation in psychology. She was at the U Cup to meet some friends to work on homework. I found her before her friends arrived and asked if she would be my subject for a few minutes. She is shown here, writing down some notes for her dissertation.
For this photo, I pulled my F-stop down to 4.5, set my shutter speed at 60 and threw the ISO all the way up to 1600. I love how the light hits her on the side, grabs a little bit of her face and isn't too extreme on the rest of the picture.

The second thing I was really excited to do with this project was doing something outdoors at night. I rarely do this, so I knew it would be a good time to try things out. For my final project, I have been envisioning something that was dressy, outside and dark. I met Melany Desrochers downtown Saturday night to try this out. We did a shoot with a lightpole, which is what I had been wanting to try. It didn't turn out exactly how I wanted it, but it's pretty darn close...We'll have to try it again when it's not so f-ing cold out! Here's what I came up with:
This, too, pulled the F-stop down as low as I could get it (3.5), shutter speed 20 and ISO 1600. It really is a treat shooting with zero light, even though my eyes say, "Hey, this will work." Crazy how the camera doesn't believe me... :) I love how the light is on her face and leg, but too harsh anywhere else. That's why I chose the lamp post, it's directional!
But I will definitely be re-doing this photo when the weather gets a little more cooperative. Good for now though.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Final Project Proposal

Working title: Fashion for You.

In life I believe that fashion and advertising are the most persuasive powers in woman’s world. My project will show this in action by persuading women to buy into a certain fashion and believe it will work well for their life, body and world.

Ultimately, I want the audience to feel the need to buy the products shown right now and understand that they want to do so because it will make them feel good about their life and their body.

The subject of my project is a fashion advertising campaign for Kohl’s. This is a well-known department store, so there is very little background information the viewer will need that they don’t already know.

The activity I will record includes photographs for print ads, billboards and possibly an internet ad. I will also tape a television commercial and possibly a radio ad. All of these will have a unifying theme: Fashion for You. The premise will be that these clothes are for all, but they fit you perfectly and will make you feel good about your body and your life. Each will be able to stand on its own, but they will all have the same theme and will fit together well. I will include clothing for females only to make this theme easier to understand and to keep the elements cohesive.

The main subjects of my campaign will be my models. Thus far, I have four models in mind: Brittany Fessenden, Cassie Mull, Melany Desrochers and Stacey Chiesa. If necessary, I will include more models to help prove my point. The models’ main goals will be to sell the products by showing that the clothing of Kohl’s fits all and helps one to feel good about her world.

Instead of camera interviews, I will be conducting a television commercial. It will be a 30-second spot that will help to further demonstrate the fashions in a way that will persuade the viewer to buy the clothing. I will shoot and edit the commercial in a way that fits with the rest of the campaign.

The structure of the campaign will be unique in that each piece will have a beginning, middle and end and will be able to stand alone. However, when the pieces are put together, they will also portray one idea and will be able to portray one idea and theme. While there won’t be a set order in which the pieces need to be viewed (and hence no beginning or end), the pieces will still portray the idea of Fashion for You.

I will shoot the images and video in the next three weeks (before spring break) and will begin editing at that time. The project will hopefully be complete by April 1, before the deadline, so the works can be included in my portfolio during my job search. During the month after the project is complete, I will fine-tune everything so it will be ready to be turned in by May 3.

I hope my project will impact my viewers and convince them to buy the fashions in the campaign. I also hope my project will convince employers that I have the skills needed to find a job in the advertising industry.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Back to the Grind...Inspiration time!

Photo classes have begun once again and that means I'm back to my blog.
This semester I am taking JRN 521, which is my last photo class at CMU.
My first assignment is to write a post about who inspires me. I've done some soul-searching, and have decided that after this semester, I will be looking for a job in the advertising world- hopefully taking photos and designing ads.

As such, I feel like my inspiration needs to have an ad-y feel. I have come up with a few different people who's photography I really love and think they truly are what I aspire to be.
So here goes...

The first person I found was Joe Vaughn. He does portrait, food, and lifestyle photography. I especially like the shots he has done with food. They are simple, precise, and capture exactly what the food is supposed to look like. They also seem appetizing, even in black and white. That someone is able to capture the essence of something that most people in this country take for granted is just amazing. I would love to be able to take pictures of inanimate objects this well. I am hoping to do a shoot this semester of more still life objects in the hopes that I can do this, as well. The angles he uses to shoot from will be especially fun to try. For those interested, his website is

Another great photographer is CJ Benninger. His work features people, cars and musical acts. I was drawn most to the fashion shots he displayed. The lighting is what got me. Most fashion shoots are highly-lit and blown out, but CJ made sure to light the person. Some of the backgrounds are well lit, as well, but for the most part, the light of the photograph is focused on the person. This makes complete sense to me. The light usually tells the viewer where to look, and in these photographs, the viewer can't go wrong: the only thing lit is the main subject. I can also employ this technique to my advantage. By lighting just the main subject, and nothing else, it creates a wonderful mood that is easy to replicate. This will be especially easy to do if I shoot in the studio. Snoots and other directional forces will make the light go exactly where I want it to. I am very excited to try this out! CJ's portfolio can be seen at

A third photographer I was impressed and inspired by was Nathan Garcia. He focuses his work on still lifes, portraits, and nighttime photography. I was especially drawn to the still life shots, because advertising often focuses on products and I expect to be doing a lot of still life work. His shots are very clean, bright and upbeat. It is great to see good, neat shots that would be easy to place in an ad. Looking at his photos caused me to start designing layouts around them. This is exactly what I want my photography to do: inspire others to come up with ways to display my work to the best of their ability. These shots, too, would be easy to replicate in the studio. It will take me time to perfect this art, but Nathan is definitely a very inspiring photographer. His work is located at

Finally, I found Roy Ritchie. I was unsure what exactly he was trying to do with his work, but I especially loved the set of photographs he did entitled "Pink." This set shows different rooms and settings, all immersed in the color pink, frills and knick-knacks. Pink is my favorite color, so I was obviously drawn to the folder. But what it contained looked like it belonged in a home decorating magazine (and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it already has been). The way he took a room and made me want to examine every inch was amazing. The inspiration in these photographs wasn't so much to take this kind of photo (it is something I hope I can already do), but to have a room like this someday! It seems silly, I know :) However, the photographs really caught the essence of the rooms. This is something I try to do in all of my work, so the inspiration lies there, as well. I will continue to try in every picture I take to capture the soul of my subject as well as Roy did. His photographs can be viewed at

These photographers inspire me to improve my photographs in every way I can so I can be as successful as they are. I think it is important to add that I found all of these photographers through Wonderful Machine Photographers ( All of them are based near the Detroit area. The site also features the rest of the company's photographer's website, living all around the country. While I didn't have time to look through all of them, I hope to do so soon to be inspired even more!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

updated video

I have redone my video about Mickey and Carey. The newest version is on my website, check it out!
It's video #1 under the multimedia tab.
(: Thanks :)

Here is my final video...Through it All. If you read my treatment, you know that it is about the Fitzgerald family. They have dealt with the issues of divorce and parenting mistakes, and as a result, two of the men have had to go through legal proceedings to change their last name. They don't take it for granted that all three of them now have the same last name. This is their story, simplified as well as it can be. They have left out a lot of the little details, because even I (who have spent hours talking with them about it) don't know everything, and everything would take far too long. So here it is, in four chapters.
Part one focuses on Neil, the "grandpa." He talks about his past with the family, why his son ended up with a different last name and how the whole charade started.
Part two focuses on Carey L, the "dad." He talks about his (non)relationship with his father, how he came to change his name, and why his son still ended up with the old last name.
Part three focuses on Carey James, the "son." He talks about his relationship with his dad, when and why he ended up changing his last name, and how he feels about everything.
Part four shows all three of the men together. It tells how they feel about all that they have been through and how they relate to one another now that they are back together.
This story is close to me because I love this family. I did these videos and spent all this time on it because I want to tell their story. Maybe it will help someone else. Either way, I hope you like it. These men are amazing and I have learned so much...Hopefully you do, too.

Through it All - Part One from Jillian Pekel on Vimeo.

Through it All - Part Two from Jillian Pekel on Vimeo.

Through it All - Part Three from Jillian Pekel on Vimeo.

Through it All - Part Four from Jillian Pekel on Vimeo.