This was not your average beer pong party. After a night of celebrating the recent release of LAADS, a new Davis-based arts and culture quarterly magazine, I took this photograph of a girl practicing poi — a performance art originating with the Maori people in New Zealand.
People had mostly tired of dancing, but the DJ’s beat still pounded in concert with the glow sticks. It was cold outside, but the garage was so body-heated that my lens kept fogging up. I had to wipe off all the dew before each three-second exposure. It’s pretty easy to take pictures like this, even on a point-and-shoot camera. Just look for ‘shutter speed’ in your menu and experiment with different times (1’’ – 15’’ to start) and light sources.
The composition defines this photograph. In particular, the subject’s position relative to the crowd, her proximity to the camera and centrality in the frame isolate her from the crowd and place the inverted Siddhartha Gautama hanging from the rafter where her head would have been. By discarding the “rule of thirds” and juxtaposing the garage’s Indian imagery (Ghandi, Siddhartha) and the bright, vertically spiraling streaks of turquoise and purple light with the party-weary crowd, this photo achieves a gloomy, off-step aesthetic.
If you experiment with long exposures or any form of photography, let us know. E-mail Student Snapshot submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Jeremy Raff