• Sarah Grace


Updated: Apr 25

@sarahgracephotography on Instagram

For my final project, I did a photo essay. Not just any photo essay, but an essay based off of colors, and trying to edit my photos in different ways.

The first step was to research past history with photo essays…

Has someone else done this before? If so, have they been successful? How?

My first step was to look on Instagram for photo essay examples. One of my favorite photographers, Jessica Whitaker, did plenty of photo essays when she was doing an internship in New York City. She had many different models in front of the camera telling some type of story. She created a photo essay series and would name them one word. For example, “Subway” “Alone” or “Romance.” I love her photo essays because she takes one model and tells a story through one location and an outfit through her lens. She’s a very popular photographer from Instagram who is widely known by other photographers in the area, so I think she was very successful in this. People started to follow her to see her photo essays, and to strive to be like her. Once Covid hit, she started TikTok and made them into some videos on there, which also became very popular. She then did FaceTime photoshoots, and try to make people feel better about themselves even while they were at home quarantined.

My next step was to figure out what I wanted to ask. What did I want this project to focus on? It was really difficult for me to pick something I thought people would be interested in. However, I thought about the movie "Inside Out." There are certain stereotypes for emotions with colors, and I wanted to see if that remained true for photography. So, I asked my Instagram what they thought. After polling the results, I talked to my table-mates to see what they thought as well. I then took the answers they gave, and wrote them down to take into consideration when choosing the models.

Red: Anger, Embarrassment, Shock

Orange: Laughter, Excitement, Mellow, Nostalgic

Yellow: Joy, Laughter, Happiness

Green: Envy, Jealousy, Disgust, Calmness, Sick, Peaceful

Blue: Sadness

Purple: Surprise, shock , Envy, Jealousy

Pink: romantic, love, shy, flirtatious

Black: depressed, anxiety, hate, mysterious, fear

When reaching out to the models, I wasn’t sure how to approach them. I don’t typically reach out to people, they typically reach out to me if they want photos. This was honestly the most nerve-racking part of the process because I was afraid people would say no to me. Especially since these were somewhat based off of an emotion. I didn’t want anyone to be offended about a certain emotion.

Here was the message I sent to all of the 8 girls:

“Hi! I’m currently working on a project for one of my college classes that correlates colors with emotions. I have to photograph people in those colors and try to make the viewers guess the emotion I’m portraying, or guess what emotion is associated with that color! I would love for you to portray the color orange (nostalgic, mellow).

Would you be down for this? You would have to buy an all orange outfit BUT the shoot would be free of charge and you’d get the digital images free! I’m not sure what your schedule is like but I have to complete the project by mid April! If this sounds like something you’re for sure interested in please let me know and I’ll send you a mood board of what I’m thinking...looking forward to hearing back soon!”

After they accepted, I sent them the mood boards.








(Black ended up cancelling on me last minute and I had no time to reschedule before the project was due)

After looking at multiple locations, different vibes, and different aesthetics I think would match each color, I ended up having to shoot at the same exact spot for all of them. It was so difficult to work with everyone’s schedule, the weather, and my work/school schedule as well. I had eight different models to work with and I decided to go with the same place although I would’ve loved to go to different spots with each of them. We originally had two separate dates to shoot but unfortunately it rained on both.

Another flaw I had was struggling to make the models show the emotion. Obviously happy or sad is easy to portray, but some girls did not want to force themselves to make a certain emotion (for example, anger) because it was awkward and weird. Because I typically photograph high school seniors, most of the people I found to model were still seniors in high school or in early college. I didn’t want to force them, so I tried my best when it came to posing them!

After doing the photoshoot, it took me quite a while to edit the photos. I tried a new tool called Lightroom Photoshop. It’s a mix between Lightroom CC and Adobe Photoshop. It was much different than the typical Lightroom I edit in, and I was slightly confused with how to work it. However, after watching a few tutorials and learning, I edited the photos the best I could. I played with the new masking tool, and also the color grading tool. It’s a cool feature. I would love to use this again, but it is pretty expensive so I think I will stick to my Lightroom CC until I graduate college and could possibly afford it.

Overall, this project was really fun for me. I love being behind the camera lens, and taking pictures of models with different colors and trying to portray different emotions was a fun a new experience for me. I currently have them posted on my social media page, and I am awaiting feedback from my followers to see what they think. I am also eager to see what people think during our final project showcase Monday. I am going to have piece of paper written out so people can write down their answers and feedback.

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