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Running With Light [Photography Final Project]

Hi everyone!! A few weeks ago I became OBSESSED with this photography technique called "light painting". It was something that I had seen my photography teacher from last semester doing with her second semester classes, and even though I'm not in her class anymore, I asked that she teach me how to do it! This became the basis for my AP Art final project, and below is my artist statement about it.

My photography piece “Running with Light” was an attempt to convey the beauty I see in running to the artistic world. It combined my love for the running community with a new photographic technique of light painting, which all came together to create a piece that is very close to my heart.

The concept for this piece came about when I saw my photography teacher’s newest project for her students of light painting. I had always seen this technique in my favorite sports photographers’ work and had been curious about how to create it for a long time, so I reached out to her and she taught me how to use lights in the dark to create colorful and vibrant compositions. After experimenting with light painting self portraits, I knew that I wanted to use this technique to portray some sort of meaningful movement. I have always wanted to create a meaningful artwork about running, but I never quite knew how or what it would specifically mean. This past spring I have attended literally dozens of track meets for both myself and my brothers, so track & field is nearly always on my mind. I love that in track there’s space for everyone, as there are so many events between the track and the field. This way in which the individual events create a home for every track athlete is special to me, as that’s not seen in any other sport. I decided to portray a few track events with only light, in order to both show that safe space of the track and to explore how the human body moves by focusing on one body part.

I assembled a crew of eight fellow teen runners, all friends and family, and we all met at the local track at 8pm on a Sunday night. They valiantly fed into my strange but creative vision while clipping tiny lights to their shoelaces and hands, and their presence was indicative of not only the supportive running friends I have acquired throughout my life, but also the beauty of the running community. We understand the inherent value of crazy ideas, given that our sport is inherently a crazy idea. The track is always a safe space, and has been the place I feel the most comfortable at for my whole life.

After taking dozens of photos of everyone running around in weird formations, I assembled and combined the photos in Photoshop to create compositions that were indicative of one event. The three photos in the triptych show a relay baton handoff, a hurdler overcoming a hurdle, and a distance runner running steadily. It was fascinating to explore both how people move in the same way repeatedly, as each of the photos are five or more photos layered together, but also how vibrant the movement of running can be. It can be relaxingly steady, explosively fast, or crazily dysfunctional. It all depends on the person and their event.

As my friends will quickly tell you, my love for running is deep and has shaped a lot of who I am as a person. It has shaped how I see the world, how I view art, and how I think about myself as a physical and spiritual being. Combining running and photography to create these compositions has been both fulfilling and fascinating, and leaves me hungry to explore more of the human body in athletic movement.

Below are all of the photos from this magical project. It really sparked a new photographic way of thinking in me and I'm so excited to explore more of it!

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