Shifting Reality

I'm in my final semester at Syracuse University as a Masters student in Photography. Over the last year I had the fortune to study photojournalism, photo illustration, and multimedia production under the direction of Bruce Strong, Tom Kennedy, and Seth Gitner, to name a few professors in the Multimedia Photography & Design department (although Gitner is in Newspaper). It has been an intense experience leading up to this semester. During these last few months in Syracuse, I am actually not taking any courses in our department, and instead am taking a course in analytics, and two courses in the Television, Radio, and Film department, one of which is After Effects.

After Effects is a powerful software that allows you to manipulate video, animate illustrations, add special effects to movies, or, well the list goes on and on. As one of our first assignments, we had to animate a composition of still images. I elected to animate one of my first photographs from Cuba of a mother with her child on a payphone in front of a brilliant red wall. In addition to that, i wanted to bring in two boys on a scooter of a different picture, though of the same series from Cuba.

The Process:

I cut out every shape and body part that i wanted to animate. This included the fan blades, the gears of the fan motor, the mom's arms, her head, legs, torso, ankles, slippers, and the same for the young girl. Likewise, i cut out the two boys on the scooter, cutting out and separating each of their distinct body parts that I wanted to animate. Once I created a composite of each of these images, I brought the scooter boys into the payphone picture. In a very tedious process I animated each body party separately, rotating and placing them in space and keyframing them over time. Finally, I added in sound effects of a the scooter wheels rolling across pavement, the dial tone, and key tones of the keypad.

The Result:

Over a couple days I came away with an acceptable composition where the scooter boys flew across the sidewalk while the mom dialed the phone and the young girl danced next to her with the handset to her ear.

As a journalist it is always an odd experience to dabble in the world of fiction and illustration. To be able to combine two distinct moments in time, captured in separate places in Havana, that for 4 years existed in my life as separate entities, and animate them into a single event in time, was something of a conundrum. I now have a completely different experience with the payphone picture that hangs on my wall. I almost want to see the two boys fly across the sidewalk in tandem. I almost no longer wonder what the mom and daughter are thinking. Bear in mind, I'm not saying this is a brilliant work of art, rather it is of interset to myself to observe the intersection between journalism and illustration.


In late-February 2007, I committed a grave crime by flying into Havana, Cuba to explore the "forbidden land." For three weeks I passed through the cities of Havana, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, and Baracoa in the Northeastern tip of the archipelago. Just prior to my departure, I had completed my first course in color chromogenic printing, and had developed an obsession with vivid colors. What better place to photograph than Cuba? The question was, "How?" considering everybody else from world-reknowned David Alan Harvey, to John the Canadian tourist had also shot Cuba. So I tried, and returned through US customs content, though trembling and praying they wouldn't take away my bag of film.

My trip to Cuba eventually evolved into a 58-page, 24-image hardback book and print exhibition entitled 8:10 and 40 Seconds. To view or purchase the book, visit me online at

This image was taken on Kodak 160VC negative film on a Contax Quuartz 139 and a Carl Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/2.8 T* lens

Check back again next week Wednesday for the 52/52 picture of the week!

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