Wednesday, February 5, 2014

For Kasey.

This first post in almost a year is dedicated to Kasey Morgan. She has been the most consistent supporter of my writing, even if it is always self-centered. I would not have written these thoughts down if it wasn't for her. 

    It struck me as I grew up from childhood to tween-hood to teenage-dom and watched countless kids' movies from Disney and the like. I saw something that most had in common but it was never explained as to why. Here we are, rooting for heroes/heroines portrayed at a vague young age, maybe just turning sixteen. The fate of the world is upon their shoulders, and they solicit help from new magical/animal/human friends and narrowly escape doom, yay, the end. Movie writers tend to make protagonists likable, but not perfect. Most female protagonists are clumsy; male protagonists awkward or un-masculine. Many of us as an audience are able to identify with these characters because we see ourselves as the protagonist of our own lives. We defend ourselves if we are criticized, and make excuses for our mistakes. We want to see ourselves as likable although we would never claim to be perfect. But something these protagonists have in common stood out to me. In movies, we are urged not only to root for the protagonist, but actually care for them and wish for their success as a person and not just a hero/heroine. But how do writers get us to that next level of depth?


       They move us past being able to relate to them with little coming-of-age quandaries and make us feel downright sorry for them. Now this is where I get to what most of these characters have in common: Missing parents. The protagonist child is usually orphaned, has one dead parent, has an evil step-parent, or a parent hasn't even been written into the story. (Here is a detailed list on Wikipedia focusing on the absence of maternal figures.)
       Growing up associating this absence of maternal and paternal characters with being a hero/heroine gave me some ideals that I thought I'd never have to personally learn. While watching these films, we saw these characters as stronger and more likable because we knew they had endured something extremely painful and a young age and yet are still standing. Not only are they upright, they are selfless and friendly to boot. They fight side by side with other characters they just met with a common goal to bring down the villain, even though the outcome may not directly impact the protagonists. If it does impact them, they still may go out of their way to protect or save or empower a friend or ally, aiding in their likability and making us root for them even more fervently. We learned that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger", and that your strength will be respected and you will become a more mature person from it. You will appreciate people in your life more than ever, and you will be more caring and empathetic.

       I was eighteen when I became the protagonist of my own Disney movie, only there is no plot and the only villain I have is a selfish facet of my own personality. When my mom died unexpectedly, I was surrounded by a close-knit group of friends who held me and treated me delicately and made sure I had everything I needed. Being in college, word traveled to all of my classmates and so they met me with the same caring disposition. RIT was my audience rooting for me and helping me when I needed it.
       But outside my Disney movie, during all the outtakes and cuts and deleted scenes and after the credits roll, after the original movie but before the sequel, I will be the only person in the room that knows my struggle, and I will not know the struggles of anyone else. I don't feel empowered and strengthened from my experiences, and I do not expect to be treated delicately. There was a time when I wanted to introduce myself by telling the stranger what I was enduring just so they would know I was not capable of normal unclouded conversation and that I wanted them to hug me. I craved to give off an air of strength and compassion, but still be loved and rooted for by every person I encountered.

       The slow loss of an audience admittedly makes me feel a loss of empowerment. I can no longer acceptably manipulate my surroundings to cushion my heart and mind. It's been three years since my plot twist. I think it's about time I build the cushion for myself with my own hands and no longer rely on others' gentleness. When I graduate from RIT and move to the west coast and present my portfolio to a client, I can't say, "Well, not all my work is up to my full potential because, you see, I hit a bump in the road and I couldn't make great work while also managing a deep depression and dragging my GPA up from a 1.2 to a 3.5 so don't criticize me too hard."
Everyone has struggles. We all handle them differently. I think it's time to get back on track.

Here's a selfish selfie with my own self-admired and newly sprouted curly locks, since the theme for today is self and selfishness.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spring Thinking.

       I've been dedicating my online presence to my new website, so I apologize to those of you who have told me you check Give & Taketh frequently and have seen nothing new in two months. I appreciate your support!
       Anyway, here are some dismal beauties I saw from the deck of my house back in PA over "spring break" last month. Here, Rochester keeps toying with the hearts of summer anticipators and winter lovers alike, yo-yo-ing between blue skies and blizzards. Here's to wishful thinking and hope for normalcy, and finding the beauty within the dreariness.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


       I love shooting water.
       Shoutouts to my sister Kayla for helping me paint my nails a few weeks ago. I wish they weren't so chipped.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fine Line of Harmony.

       The balance between the natural world and humans as nature themselves is one of the most delicate in existence. Humans hold so much power to alter to world, and yet the earth utilizes its power to whip back infinitely more intensely. This series conveys meshing humans and nature in a minimalistic yet delicate and artistic manner… Not to portray the blending of nature itself with a human, but rather to make them both exist visually as a beautiful seamless image.
       This was a challenging, fun, messy, creative, stressful, and spectacular experience... and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

       Overall I think they look much better as prints hung on a wall, but I wanted to have them on good ol' Give & Taketh.

Super-special thanks to models Imogen Whyte & Erica Jack;
Also super-special thanks to illustrator Jennifer Kotler!
I loved working with all of you.

Monday, October 29, 2012

There's a hurricane. My pants got soaked. I scanned my face.

I love the texture in the background. I left the lights on just to see what would happen, and it turns out it looks pretty cool. Otherwise it would just be blackness instead of the crosshatched grey.

I should be doing homework.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


       In my Ad Photo class, our last assignment was to illustrate two articles, either by the article itself or just the title. I chose to illustrate two titles:

Wear a Lab Coat? Odds Are You're a Caffeine Junkie.

This one was a lot of fun to shoot. I especially enjoyed slowly becoming more and more hyped on caffeine with the model, Christina. 

I combined the aspects of both portraiture and still life to create compelling and interesting images. And yes! She really is pouring that into her mouth (and it's cola, not coffee).

 Another fun tidbit: Poor Christina was falling asleep during this part... for realism, of course.

Criminal Minds.

 This image shows a more humorous and literal view of the idea, showing an inmate studying how to be a more successful criminal, therefore, as I like to put it, "expanding his criminal mind".

The “criminal mind"—or the reasoning behind a convicted prisoner's actions—is often lost in the eyes of the average citizen, no matter what the criminal's or citizen's income, social status, or age. People tend to think of murderers and thieves and rapists as all the same: plain bad people. Outsiders don't want to hear the criminal's rationale; it will all likely be called crazy, controllable, or preventable (if it's even heard). I illustrated this situation by placing an inmate at the front of a classroom, frustrated by his audience of one, who doesn't even care what he has to say about his situation.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

People people people.

Here are some portraits I did for my Ad Photo class:

This was the most fun to shoot. Emma was a spectacular model! I'd never had much success with hair flips, but this is by far my favorite hair action photo I've done.

I am happy Brea agreed to model for me. She has absolutely stunning features that I wanted to capture with dramatic and contrasted light.

Eric was fun to work with. He was the only model I used props for (he designed and created those puzzles himself), so it was critical that everything looked perfect and was evenly lit and displayed. He was willing to do what it took to get the shot I had in mind, and for that I am greatly appreciative.

Kyle was also fun to photograph. I had only met him twice before with a general "hi/bye", so I made the leap to ask him to model for me. Establishing a cordial relationship and eventually trust with a stranger for a photo shoot is an awesome feeling.

I took a more basic approach for Nate's portrait. I focused on achieving flattering light as well as prominent catch lights (the eye sparkles) combined with a strong pose.

Thank you all! You're awesome and I hope to work with you again!

Alien Life.

       Some of you may know I have rotten luck health/body wise. I usually sustain an injury or an illness once to twice a month on average. These past few weeks have been full of different wounds and sickness, but I would like to share this one specific incident with you, mainly because I have a cool picture for it.

       I was working in the RIT studios not too long ago, and I needed to use a collapsable reflector. Here's an image of a similar one from

The black outer edge is a fabric-covered plastic wire which allows the reflector to be twisted and collapsed.

       I took the folded reflector out of its case. Normally one must bend the wire to pop it open. In this instance, it decided it was a grown up and could do unfold on its own... in my face.

       The edge of the wire subsequently pounded my open eyeball back into my skull.
I collapsed in pain as tears literally gushed out of my eye. I'm not talking drops; it was a consistent horrifying stream of water falling out of my head. I immediately went to the restroom to see what kind of shiner I'd soon be developing. Surprisingly, there were no visual signs of trauma. However, there were terrifying black squiggles dancing around my vision. Everywhere I looked, they followed; mocking me, taunting me.
Now here's the part only RIT students will understand:
After I was able to see a little more clearly (despite the black spots), I continued photographing in the studio for a good hour. Then I let logic hit me and called the doctor.

Anyway, one doctor led to another, and this happened:

I had only the one eye dilated so they could see what was going on inside. SUPER COOL.
What's not super cool is that they found retinal bleeding. But what is super cool is that it will heal in time.