CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY

I always begin each project by crafting a concept that serves as the foundation for my work (regardless of the discipline). To illustrate that, I invite you to read a small case study about my process of concept development, as it was applied to a blog article I wrote for Baker Prince Photography (a local lifestyle photography studio).

THE CONCEPT BRIEF / To Baker Prince Photography, a personal high school portrait isn’t about graduation, college, and all the milestones found within. Instead, they think a personal portrait should focus on the personality of the young adult in front of the camera, not the subjects they study in school. Therefore, I examined the photograph they wanted to use as the article’s illustration. And I asked myself one question: what is this person trying to tell me? I looked beyond the books.

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After carefully considering the elements within the photograph’s composition, I began to focus on someone in the midst of a journey. I didn’t see the journey as a path to the next stop (i.e. college), but instead considered it an act of self-discovery. Some words that popped into my mind were personality, vision, goals, and growth coupled with the notion that a student is more than the books they read and the facts they memorize. I felt as if the girl in the photo was on a personal quest and she was allowing me to see her in progress, as if I caught her in the midst of reflecting. I could almost hear her say, “This is who I am, but my journey isn’t over.” And that’s when I realized every high school teenager is on a never-ending quest. I had the concept for my writing.

Using a moving train as an analogy for being a traveler on a life-quest, I crafted a small narrative that served as a deep dive into the world of teenagers. That led me to seeing their personalities as a woven fabric, a unique texture composed of their compiled experiences, interests, and choices. The narrative functioned as a beautiful insight that segued into how portrait photography can celebrate that journey.

…The narrative…

A high school student is more than the books they read and the facts they memorize.

They’re explorers searching for their identities. They’re people first and students second. And what differentiates teenagers from adults is the specific stage of life upon which they stand and the roles they play as developing human beings. That’s why youth is a tumultuous time, more so for the teenager (than any other age group) since they have almost unlimited drive but are too young to have earned the enlightenment associated with a long and productive journey. Instead, teenagers are searching, constantly and sometimes blindly, for the path that is tailor-made for them. They are travelers on a quest, riding a train that has no stops but plenty of scenery. If they jump at the wrong time, they find themselves chasing a moving train, desperate to recapture the feeling of rattling stability beneath their feet.

But that journey is not just about putting one foot in front of the other. Its purpose is to use experience to weave the fabric of a personality. And it must be done in such a way that enables every ounce of a teenager’s existence—from their choices in music to the styles of their clothing—to communicate the fibers of their being.

We can’t always see that progress—because it’s not about us—but teenagers want us to see it. They want others to know who they are and where they came from. And that’s where portrait photography can help.

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