The Reflections Project challenged me to explore a question that is at once simple and deeply complex:

“Who am I?”

Experimenting with personal as well as lyrical essay forms, I developed insights about my experiences and identities before translating these ideas visually in a video essay, personal essay, and website. I deepened my technical communication skills for this project by using Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects to put together a two minute video that revealed an idiosyncrasy that I feel differentiates me from my peers.

Throughout this project, I’ve learned a lot about the person I want to continue to be in spite of the nonbelievers. In my personal essay, I touched on my past and how these experiences have led me to grow up believing in the impossible. My values and morals are all just a sum of the world I was raised in. In my video essay, I translated my past into new goals for the future, driven by my daydreams. I have always been a big dreamer, and I hope that never changes.

Personal Essay

The personal essay portion of this project was designed for us to dig deep into our past experiences to formulate a piece of writing that would give deeper insight about our identity without simply saying it. This poetic yet informational essay should be relatable and unique, as it is meant to differentiate us from one another.

Personally, I instantly knew what I wanted to write about, as I feel that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this experience in my life. Although it is a tragedy, it taught me to adopt a mature mindset early in life which I believe has allowed me to think more openly when it comes to new experiences in my current life.

When I first started taking photographs, one line stood out among all the “how-to” books I read: “Never shoot from eye level, because that’s what everyone sees. Find a different angle to give people a new perspective.” After years of practice, one photo hangs proudly on the wall of my bedroom that for me, captures this philosophy. My Dad and I were on a typical Sunday morning hike at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. My Dad was standing at the base of a giant redwood tree, joking about how many stacked versions of him it would take to match its height. To my left was a younger redwood tree, its leaves acting as a filter for the sun, giving them a neon green hue. Everything about the composition of my shot was perfect. Except one thing. From eye level, I wasn’t able to capture the immense height difference between my six-foot tall Dad and the 300-foot redwood behind him. As I kneeled down, my elbow pushing into the wet soil, I contorted my body until I found the perfect angle to express how small humans really are. Click.

To this day, that picture hangs proudly on the wall of my bedroom, and I still admire the alternative angle I achieved to create it.

The act of changing perspectives had never been a stranger to me, though. My first dramatic change of perspective was not a positive one: I was seven when my brother died at age nine of a brain aneurysm.  My biggest conflict up until then was arguing with him about who got to press the floor button in the elevator. Losing him made it clear to me at a young age that life is unpredictable and at times un-negotiable, but it still seemed impossible that I would never see his blinding smile ever again, the one that could flip your frown in seconds. Or that I would have to navigate the maze of middle school full of scary creatures, like teenage boys, without my big brother protecting me.  

These two shifts in my perspective may seem like opposites on the spectrum of gravity but they aren’t all that different. Through photography I’ve welcomed the fact that the only way to inspire others is to show them a new way to look at something they see every day. To achieve this outcome, I must take risks. Granting these risks may push me beyond my comfort zone, one perfect shot makes it all worth it. Alternatively, my brother’s death was initially catastrophic, toppling my seven-year-old shelter. I began to grow closer to my parents, and learned to be grateful for everything I still had. Ultimately, I am equally grateful for both of these welcome and unwelcome changes in my life because they’ve sculpted my current character.

That brisk Sunday morning hike with my dad really changed something for me. I finally listened and walked with the whistling of the leaves and understood how being in nature would become a huge part of my life. I understood how physical change could bring emotional change. And most importantly, I understood that the snapshot I took that day of the towering redwood tree would only be one example of the hundreds of shots that represent change in my life. Since that moment, my continuous growth in attitude has shone a positive light on my past experiences, bringing me curiosity and drive that wouldn’t have existed without my suffering. If I ever doubt myself, I remember that if I just change my perspective like I did on the hike that day, I can capture everything I need to achieve the impossible.

Perspective Piece

Another short project we did for our Digital Media class was the Perspective Piece Project. The purpose of this project was to allow us to explore any topic that we wanted while sharing our opinion on it. After recording a minute long rant, we used Adobe After Effects to make a slideshow using photos that helped support our claim. 

Personally, I chose to talk about money and greed, and how I believe that money is the root of all evil. This project helps to show more about who I am because there is nothing more personal than a rant about something we all deal with on a daily basis.

Here is my perspective on money.
This is a screenshot of my work in After Effects. I overlapped each of the photos so that it would create a slideshow with smooth transitions. Then I used the Ken Burns effect to zoom in on each picture to add interest. The green bar at the top of the sequence represents the audio of my rant.
This is a screenshot of my work in After Effects. I overlapped each of the photos so that it would create a slideshow with smooth transitions. Then I used the Ken Burns effect to zoom in on each picture to add interest. The green bar at the top of the sequence represents the audio of my rant.

Video Essay

Our assignment for the film class was to make a Video Essay Project describing our identity in an abstract way. The assignment made me think hard about what makes me who I am without blatantly saying it. 

For this project, I decided to take about my identity as a daydreamer and how that has encouraged me to believe in my big dreams in the real world.

This is my finished product.

In order to put together this two minute video, I used Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. The video clips I used were mostly taken before this project, throughout the summer. It’s typical for me to document my summer adventures, so it only seemed right to use these while talking about the subjects of my daydreams. I experimented with a lot of special effects by watching plenty of youtube tutorials and ended up putting a lot of time into the transitions between all of my clips. 

This project has taught me a lot about After Effects and Premiere Pro including its wide variety of effects and how they can all be applied to make a surrealistic type film.

This is a screenshot of my work in Premiere Pro. The current frame being shown is the first special effect that I worked on, making it seem as if the paper is coming out of the screen.
This is a screenshot of my special effects work in After Effects. For some of the effects I used, they were much easier to perform in After Effects because of the bigger variety of presets.