John Suler's Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche
It isn’t easy being a teenager. Developmental psychologists have referred to it as the period of “sturm und drang” (storm and stress). This may be especially true in our modern times when so many pressures, biological and social, challenge the identity of the teenager.
My daughter actually was in a good mood that night when she sat down on the foyer step to talk with us. She had just come home from a Halloween party, for which she wore a "Wayne's World" costume. I was sitting on the living room rug with my camera at the time, and decided to lie down below her to snap off a few shots while we talked.
In this one, I like how her arms, legs, and head all converge on the center of her body, which expresses the idea of the inner focus and internal struggle that many teenagers experience. The heavy dark vignetting and black frame add to that closed-in, internalized, overwhelmed feeling. The untied sneakers and holes in her jeans also suggest a struggle, chaos, being worn down and unable to function properly. In post-processing of the image, I used a technique that is popular among her generation: a dramatic and edgy high contrast along with a subdued saturation of color, as if some emotions are suppressed even if their lives are intense. Despite that overall reduced saturation, I decided to boost the red in her hair as a reminder of the underlying emotional intensities. The fact that we can't see her face allows her to become a generic figure representing all teenagers, as well as conveys the idea that adolescents aren't always sure about who they are, or they may feel they need to hide their thoughts and feelings. Although we adults know this is all part of growing up, the low camera angle magnifies the largeness of the subject matter in the eyes of the teenager.
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Here are some other articles in Photographic Psychology that are related to this photo and essay:
Adolescence - John Santrock
"More students learn from John Santrock’s Adolescence than from any other text in this field. The 14th edition combines proven pedagogy and the most current research to provide a market leading presentation of adolescence. This time tested text provides compelling contemporary research, including updates from eleven leading experts in the field. The text's accessible presentation, plentiful applications and engaging writing foster increased mastery of the content. The new edition includes substantially expanded material on diversity and culture, adolescents’ and emerging adults’ health and well-being, including numerous recommendations for improving the lives of adolescents, and expanded emphasis on the positive aspects of adolescent development." (available on Amazon)
Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche