Med-School Mischief: A Junior Narrative Diptych by Katherine Higgins (2013)
Click to read Artist Statement
The story is this: a young man is forced to study medicine in college, but really wants to spend his time with animals. His father is stubborn, and forces his son to complete a semester of pre-med at UW Madison. In the first photo, the poor young man is half asleep, the psychology book in his hands is upside down, and his posture is pathetic. All of this shows the character's conflict: he feels forced to study things that bore him. In the second photo, only one thing has changed: the book. Now the young man is reading Goat Song, a book of adventure and dairy goats. He is smiling down at the book, sitting up straight. This image is much livelier, and happier looking than the first, and shows the story's resolution. As the student has decided to study animals for a living and become a veterinarian, none of his time was wasted in studying medicine, but his life gets to be blessed with furry friends. The largest struggle in this project was making two nearly identical scenes contrast each other greatly enough to be symbolic. To achieve this, I physically adjusted the lighting when I shot the photos, and two things in Adobe Photoshop: saturation and contrast. In the first scene, I brought down the saturation dramatically, making all the colors, especially the blue jacket, less vibrant. Next I brought down the contrast, making the image seem flatter and less alive. For the second scene, I did the opposite, boosting the contrast and saturation. To make Goat Song look as though it were glowing, I took a lamp and brought it as close to the model as I could, shining it directly onto the top of the book and the model's face. Though this created a few funky shadows, it brought the focus of the image to the center, giving it shape and liveliness that wasn't present with the existing room lights.