Creative Career Cohort

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2023 Cohort Session One

We are proud to introduce and showcase the work of the 2023 Creative Career Cohort. This 17-week, three-part cohort explores photography, graphic design, lighting, styling, and editing.

Session One: Camera and Digital Editing Fundamentals

Elements of Design, Photography, Photoshop, and Intro to Graphic Design

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Today I dedicate this statement to my mouse Mikey who passed yesterday. He was one of my best friends, lived up to almost a year and was my baby goblin boy. Me and his brother Ralph will remember him dearly.

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My theme for this showcase is variety. I chose this theme since I really wanted to highlight how I made sure to take the time to take a lot of photos with (pause here) no intended connection whatsoever. The more I thought about it however, I started to really like the theme of variety since a lot of the fun from life comes from it. Since if you do the same things all the time it starts to get stale. It's also a good starting theme since I have a lot of freedom to take as many photos as I can to learn even more! The photos you're going to see are some of the ones I liked a lot. I hope you like them too!

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While preparing to take these pictures I thought about what background to use and how can I make it more creative. I decided to not only wear my cultural clothing but also choose these exact pillows to be behind me because these pillows are culturally often used in many Afghan homes. These pillow are more often seen out on display for guest only when we have family friends coming over. And while picking out my dress I picked a dress that was culturally worn a lot during important events like weddings or special parties. 

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For this project I went with the theme of duets. As I was compiling photos for this presentation I realized that my favorite photos often overlapped and I decided that pairs was the best way to present these photos. After I put the photos into pairs I really liked how the photos came together to tell a story and give more context than one image could have given alone. I had never presented photos in this way and it was something new to me. It was a very interesting revelation and I will be sure to think about presenting photos in this format again.

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This is my March 9th, 2023 showcase on a portfolio I have compiled inspired by the representations of my culture and religion that I see everyday. In my photography journey, I often find myself drawn to the significant colors in Vietnamese Buddhism. These colors consist of gold, red and green.

This is a photo I took in the car with my mom on the way to a shop. My mom has ingrained in me that the car is a dangerous place and every time I’m in the car I should pray for safe passage. Then, she got this praying monk, and every single time I look at it it’s a reminder to do that action. This monk can also be a reminder to be present while driving.

These photos were taken in the shop I went to after the car ride. Immediately, when I walked in I noticed this shrine near my feet. This golden shrine was well loved, see the banana offering and incense that had been lit and burned down nubs. Above it in the shop but next to it in this presentation is this glass lettuce sculpture. In terms of camera technicalities I struggle with focus and steadiness, but I really needed to capture this subject’s beauty so I kept my hand steady, focused on the lens and a smile on my face. 

Next, is this self portrait of me in my traditional ao dai dress. I took this in my brother’s LED lit room. I wanted to keep the warm tone to match with my following photo. I like the smile in this portrait.

This is a photo taken of the shrine I see everyday at my home. It matches with my prior photo and lights my heart up with love and joy. There’s a freshly lit incense in this photo that contributed to this feeling.

This is my final photo. At its center is a carefree deity that represents laughter and abundance. When I was editing this photo I wanted to make the gold and the yellow in the lights pop.

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For this project, I started out wanting to capture the most important parts of my life - my family, music, and the city I live in. 

As I took photos, there was a feeling of solace and quiet that appeared in the collection. I edited my photos to all be black-and-white — there is a type of intimacy in using B&W photography that allows you to focus closer on the feeling rather than the colors or editing.

I wanted to start with Heritage. It is often difficult to feel like I have a place as someone who is mixed race, who carries an identity that feels fragmented between cultures, borders, and language. But I find myself and my heritage reflected in my younger sibling, and it reminds me that I am not alone in that feeling, as well as there are so many mixed people in the world who can relate. Me and my sibling both have freckles but tan skin and dark hair, a combination of traits inherited from both sides of our family, but unique only to us.

Another part of my life is Music. The piano is where my family would play music together and now where I play my own music; I wanted to capture that feeling of both past and present.

I used a long exposure to create a purposeful blur, one that evokes imagery of memory and the past. It reminds me that while I might not always be physically present on that piano bench, there is always going to be a part of me that is.

And finally, the City. When I’m not with my family, I’m probably in the city. My school is in a very busy area, and I also like to explore on my own or with friends. I took photos with the guiding question of how to make one of the busiest and most vibrant neighborhoods in Seattle feel quiet, almost like you’re the only person in the world. The city has an uncanny ability to make you feel a part of a community and alone at the same time, and I wanted to capture that.

As I took, edited, and put together these photos, it helped me develop my goals for what I want to do with my photography - build an understanding of myself and my connection with the world, and to share it with others.

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When people take photos, the first thing they often focus on are colors and contrast. but, I would like you to try and focus on the textures instead.

Up: the patterns and way this looks reminds me somewhat of things I see in California.

Stairs: this is another example of textures and layers. It also reminds me of the bart stations in California

Inception: the people that you see in this area are very similar to the people you see in California, i also like going to this area to see different people to remind me of spending time with my family in California

Balance: the photo is very urban and modern but it is very balanced with all the layers and contrast. I don't think I would notice this if i was just walking around, the architecture is very similar to the architecture in San Francisco.

Repetition: the brick adds a more rustic and rough feel to it; it is also different to the more modern architecture we are used to seeing. It also looks similar to the port buildings which reminds me of my grandfather.

Self: I like this photo because it makes you think how this was taken. The blurry ness also adds the feeling of what was here in the past you also need to focus more on the features.

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When I was anxious or sad as a kid, I would always search up “city at night” on Google images. I would scroll through the pictures for hours and fantasize about moving to a place like that one day. I love looking through people's windows. Although it may sound very weird and creepy, I can promise you I mean it only with the best intentions. When looking through a person's window, I like watching them dance to their favorite song, cooking their favorite meal, or watching the movie they always cry to. Seeing how people live their lives and how we, humans, are so similar yet so different from each other is so amusing to me. 

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I have dreams of a fox in silver moonlight, 
Dancing across the clouds, 
A black shadow in the mist.

The fox visits me in the real world sometimes.
It meets me at the window of my bedroom, 
Staring in with its piercing white eyes.

I lean my head against the glass, 
Wondering if it’s worth it to let it inside.
The animal with heavy cravings
Would like nothing more 
than to have someone who can feed it.

Memories of blood and gore and screeching crows
Fill my nights if not the fox. 
I prefer to see the fox, 
Even if it begs me for food.

The days when it’s not there, 
I wonder if it’s dead. 
But it always comes back,
At one point, or another. 

I hold my pillows close to my chest
And I wonder if decay is really all that horrifying.
The way it eats you,
It’s no different from a starving animal,
Begging for some kind of nutrition?
The way it only consumes the corpses of the deceased
Must be like some kind of mercy.
It leaves the living be and takes only the dead.

The fox speaks sometimes.
It speaks in phrasing that I cannot understand,
Its words wrapping around my throat 
In such a deathly way.

It told me its name is Sphacelate. 
Like gangrenous, 
Rotting flesh and corpses.

I asked it if it’s death, 
To no response.
Its piercing white eyes bore into me
In such an unfamiliar way.
So I did not ask again,
For the answer was already clear.

In the nights that I do not see the fox,
I lay awake staring at the window, hoping for its return.
Despite my doubts, I know it will.

For it’s told me how much it loves my voice,
And my songs,
And my stories.
The reason I am not quite sure of,
And the reason I will not ask for.

But my trust lies in the animal
That speaks only of decay.

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Photography is capturing, seizing the moment, all of its shape, light, coloring. The view of  “things” have always had a hold of me, to create a physical representation of our perception and interpretation of the world around us, through photography we can show emotion, tell stories, and capture the complexity of the world around us even something as simple as your everyday life, can be captured and perceived in a timeless state.