A familiar path

Breb is a small village embedded within the Carpathian Mountains located in the county of Maramures in northern Romania. The people of Breb lead a traditional lifestyle that until recently has remained almost untouched by the outside world.

 The Mandra/Tepei family has lived in the same house in Breb — passed down from generation to generation — for over 100 years. Although the way of life in Breb has evolved, there are valued traditions that the family still practices today. Viorica, 20, is the youngest of three generations of women. She lives a traditional life, but like many her age, is influenced by modern culture. While many of the younger generation yearns to leave the village for school or work, Viorica and her husband plan to stay in her family’s house and have no plans of leaving the village.

image(From front to back) Viorica, Ileana and Ileana’s mother-in-law Ileana hike about two miles to their land to make haystacks. Haymaking is integral to families in Breb because the hay is the main source of food for livestock. June through September is the hay cutting and drying season. After the hay is cut, it is turned over and over until dry and built into haystacks. Everyone in the family helps with the haymaking.

imageViorica and Ileana rake the hay into small piles for the larger haystack. The family works in the fields from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday during the hay season. Long days in the field make it hard for most in the family to have another job.

imageIn addition to haymaking and cooking, Viorica is also in charge of milking the family’s cows. The family has nine cows and one bull. Once the bull reaches two years of age the family can sell it for 1,000 euro.

imageCow’s milk is essential to the Mandra/Tepei family. They drink the milk themselves, sell it to others in the village and feed the rest of their animals — three sheep, six pigs, a calf and seven cats.

Vasile carries a ram from the pen and away from the family’s home to slaughter it for Sunday dinner.

Ileana helps hold the lamb as Vasile skins it. Slaughtering animals for food is a way of life for many people in Breb. Viorica doesn’t like to be therewhen the animals are killed. She doesn’t eat meat.

Viorica and Ileana bake a coffee cake after dinner for the family. When they are not out in the field, the women spend a majority of their time cooking for the six-person household.

Viorica switches from her everyday wear to her traditional Sunday dress. It is common for the younger generation to wear modern high heels while the older generation adorns simple flats.

Viorica helps her husband, Adrian get ready for church on St. Peter’s Day. The family — like most in the village — is Greek Orthodox.  Every Sunday morning people show off their treasured traditional clothing for church.

Viorica and Adrian relax after church. Sunday is considered a day of rest for the people in Breb. Sunday is also one of the only days of the week the couple gets to spend with one another. Instead of working the land, Adrian works long hours as a driver Monday through Saturday.

Fearfest in Columbia, MO. 

My final project for advanced techniques with Greg, Alex and Melissa. This project was a blast to shoot. I may or may not have screamed a few times. Thanks so much to the people at Fearfest who let us run around and flash our strobes in everyone’s faces. 

This slideshow has two acts. The first is the employees prepping for the haunted house. The second is as if you are going through the haunted house yourself. 

Multiple Flash Assignment for Advanced Techniques. 

Caption: In honor of Veterans Day, cadets Matt Dahgren and Jordan Morrison voluteer to guard the war memorials at the Boone County Courthouse on Nov. 9. The vigil was 24 hours. Each cadet’s shift lasts an hour. Cadets and midshipmen volunteer from the Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC units to form a two-person detail that performs a vigil of honor. This is MU’s 28th year hosting the Veterans Day Vigil.

Our past assignments — working in the studio and single flash — had all helped me in this assignment. I was able to fix the few problems I had fairly quickly and achieve the photo I was looking for. 

For this assignment Greg and I went to the ROTC vigil for Veteran’s Day. The vigil was 24 hours, so Greg and I decided to go the courthouse around 10pm and take a few photos. The photo above is our second lighting setup. We lit the wreath in the back from below and used two other flashed from above to light each solider as they marched past. 

It was nice going into this situation with somewhat of a plan. That’s something I’ve struggled with in photojournalism is trying to capture the entire event, worried about documenting every possible aspect. Through this class, I’ve realized that’s not entirely necessary. With this assignment I wasn’t allowed to just point my camera and shoot everything that was join on, I actually had to plan. Several flashes had to be setup so a preconceived frame or idea had to already be in my mind, which was actually helpful. It made me really think about what I was trying to say about the event with my photo. 

Painting with Light assignment for Advanced Techniques.
We headed down to the Devil’s Ice Box for this assignment. Melissa has a black cloth on her face and Roxi’s body is covered with another black cloth. They were then painted with a flashlight gelled blue. Then a larger flashlight gelled yellow was used to paint the surrounding trees. 
This assignment was a lot of fun, time-consuming and a little scary! Perfect for Halloween! 

Painting with Light assignment for Advanced Techniques.

We headed down to the Devil’s Ice Box for this assignment. Melissa has a black cloth on her face and Roxi’s body is covered with another black cloth. They were then painted with a flashlight gelled blue. Then a larger flashlight gelled yellow was used to paint the surrounding trees. 

This assignment was a lot of fun, time-consuming and a little scary! Perfect for Halloween! 

Single Flash Assignment. 

Caption: Cherry Bopper! (Renee Maxwell) of Hella Go-Go performs at the Citizen Jane Film Festival’s DANCE DANCE Evolution on Saturday at the Bridge in Columba, Mo. The two-part dance troupe emulates their routines after ’60s go-go dancers. This is the third year Hella Go-Go has performed at the festival. “We just can’t get enough of this amazing event. Somehow it keeps getting more amazing every year.”

I initially tried bouncing my flash but the darling ceiling and walls just made my photo dark so I was forced to continue my shoot with direct flash. Ew. From my understanding this assignment was not supposed to create the most-aestheticaly pleasing photos. Looking back I wish I would have dialed my flash down a bit so the background wouldn’t be as lit and more of the focus would be on Cherry Bopper! 

Metal Assignment for Advanced Techniques. 

Caption: In metalworking copper is considered to be a difficult metal to work with for beginners. To manipulate copper metal into a sculpture, the metal is often heated by a forge and blow torch. Heat also changes the color of the metal, sometimes resulting in a green hue or even a burnt look depending on how hot the metal gets.

I loved this assignment! It was so fun to experiment and see what different setups we could do. This plate is awesome. It’s actually something my mum made and I decided it would be perfect for this assignment. Whenever she was making this plate I remember her at one point throwing it into our fireplace to change its colors and the shape. I wanted to emulate that process — using heat to manipulate copper into different sculptures and colors. To light it on fire I used grass and acorns from outside and poured some glycerin on it to get those big flames. 

We tried a few different setups. The setup above is the plate slightly raised on a table with a black velvet cloth covering it against a black background. I thought this would complement the fire nicely and help create the illustration we were going for. To light the plate we used a boom from a back angle. Then put a translucent reflector between the light and the plate/fire. I sat on a stool and shot the plate from above at the opposite angle of the light. 

Initially I was shooting at f/22 and the plate was too hot and I was seeing reflections. Adding the translucent reflector between the light and plate helped to minimize those reflections. Initially I was standing on the stool but then I sat down on the stool — this put my camera outside of the family of angles, meaning no reflections! 

I can understand why a lot of shoots like this our medicare, it’s hard work to get it exactly right. Although this photo is slightly underexposed on what side of the plate I’m pretty happy with the result.

Studio Portrait Assignment for Advanced Techniques

FIRST CAPTION: Roxana Pop, 23 is a second-year graduate student studying photojournalism at MU. Pop is from Medias, Romania where she also studied journalism in her undergrad at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. “People ask me if I am a vampire because I come from Transylvania,” Pop said. “I used to say no, now I say yes.” Over the summer Pop interned for Chautauqua institution in NY. Not only did her internship help improve her photography, but her self-confidence as well. 

"My mom is very optimistic," Pop said. "She always pushed me and my sister, but she’s afraid of things and I think I inherited that. I’m always hesitating. I need someone to validate me and my work. My internship and the people there helped me with that."

SECOND CAPTION: Being a full-time graduate student and working as a multimedia editor for The Columbia Missourian, Roxana Pop always has something to do. Pop explained how sometimes she feels tired, overwhelmed and stressed by all her work, but she loves everything about it. When asked about her plans for after graduation, Pop said “I don’t want to talk about it. It makes me sad because I love it here.”

For the first photo I decided to use the gold reflector to add warmth to Roxi’s face and fill in the shadows. I think this photo shows more of Roxi’s true personality - warm, bubbly, curious but also mysterious. 

For the second photo I put softboxes on the two sidelights. I like high key light and the scarf on her head. I feel like it gives it a playful, tired-but-loving-life feel (which is how Roxi expressed how she oftentimes feels). We tried a lot of different concepts. One was with scarves because Roxi loves scarves. She says she always has one with her. She brought at least four or five to the shoot, it was hilarious. We did quite a few different things with the scarves, lie on them, put them on her head, on her neck, throw them in the air. We had a lot of fun trying different things to see what worked and what didn’t work. 

a few shots of Pearl and the Beard at Mojo’s. 

new york.

new york.

Summer Photos. 

Summer. 

A few black and white reedits of Bluefish and Pawns or Kings at Plush. 

My friend Brit and her violin. 

My friend Brit and her violin. 

Climb So iLL— an awesome place and the guys who own it are even more awesome! Pictured here is one of the three owners, David Chancellor. He showed me around the gym and shared his personal climbing journey. 
I’ve been climbing here numerous times, seriously check this place out.

For the full story take a look at my slideshow on the gym at Riverfrontimes.com.