Posted by: Caitlin Cavanaugh | February 12, 2010

Documentary Photo Project

After a week of some of the most miserable weather at Elon University I have finally completed the Documentary Styled Photography Project. To be honest when this project was first announced I was worried because I have never tried taking photographs of solely people, especially when everything camera had to be done manually.

Learning how to use the camera was my first challenge. I have never been asked to configure the white balance or change the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture while taking a photograph. Thankfully, it became easier as I took more photos until it eventually became second nature…well almost second nature.

My documentary styled photography “journey” officially began on Tuesday, February 9, 2010. Sadly, on this particular day a terrible rainstorm decided to plague Elon’s campus. I walked through the rain for about an hour before deciding to call it a day because there was not a soul on campus. Therefore, this was my second obstacle, it was my first true lesson about weather and the effect it has on photography projects. Luckily, it was only Tuesday and I had a camera reserved for Wednesday.

To my utter disappointment Wednesday’s weather wasn’t any better. Instead of rain there was a driving wind that tore through campus. The smart students hid in buildings and took shortcuts to get to class. Never the less I took my camera and tried to get a few good shots before once again calling it a day.

Thankfully, Thursday dawned clear and beautiful with a slight breeze. I was able to get another camera and I immediately headed to the Alamance Fountain. Within moments I discovered my next challenge, taking photographs of people I didn’t know. When I started I was hesitant to walk up to someone who was sitting by the fountain and ask if I could take a few pictures. Luckily, after a few successful photo shoots I started became more confident.

By the end of the day I had taken over 300 pictures and I was happy to see that most had come out well. I think the hardest part of the project was lining up shots quickly as people walked by specific places on campus; such as archways, trees, and other natural frames.

I faced many challenges during this project, but I was proud of the final products. In the end I dealt with weather, using a camera manually, and taking photos of people I didn’t know. Because of this project I have learned how to handle those situations so when I am handed my next project I will have some experience under my belt. I can’t wait!



  1. I love the shadows in this picture, and the movement of the wind through her hair. I wonder, however, what this picture would look like if you had kept her chin in it?

  2. I really like this photo! I especially like that you were able to get such a shallow depth of field, while still giving us an idea about the background. I love the shadows playing across the girl’s face, but I would have loved to have gotten a clear look at one of her eyes.

  3. You captured Alex beautifully! I love her expression, and hos she appears larger than Moseley (great shallow depth of field). Only thing, I would have loved to see her eyes look a little brighter, and maybe a view of more of her face. Good Job!

  4. I think this photo is great! I really like how we get such a clear look at her face and the background is blurred. One thing I would change about this photo is to lighten the shadows around her eyes. I would have loved to have a clear shot of that. It is an awesome photo.

  5. The photo isn’t over or under exposed and that is certainly a good thing. You were able to capture the moment so clearly and the piece of her in face along with the shadow of it makes this simply beautiful.

  6. I love the contrast between her face and the building in the background. I agree with Steph… it would be great to see her chin.

  7. I really like how her gaze is straight into the camera but she’s not directly facing the camera. The colors seem to blend together a little too much though.

  8. I really like how she is in focus what puts the attention on her but you can still see the background as well. I would love to see a little more of her face though

  9. This picture is really good. You focused it very well and her face is so clear. I love the movement through her hair and the shadow it casts on her face. I would have liked to see what this picture would have looked like if her chin had not been cut off.

  10. This picture should be on an Elon brochure because it makes Moseley look like a magical place. Just a few picky things that you probably didn’t have control over. The snow below her chin is distracting and i wish more of her eye was in the light. But really this is great.

  11. I like that Moseley is in the background clearly but the girl is definitely the focus of the pictures. I’m torn on what I think of her hair being blown across her face though. I love the dynamism of it and the shadow it creates, but at the same time her green eyes would have gone well with the green background.

  12. I like the framing and how the subject is positioned on the side. You left nose room. Excellent.

  13. I love how her hair makes a shadow on her face. I also like how she isn’t placed in the center of the picture and you can see Moseley in the background. Great picture, but I just wish we could see the rest of her face.

  14. I love the girl’s eyes in this picture. They really stare right through the camera.

  15. Caitlin – This picture is beautiful! I love how close you got on the girl’s face and the way the lighting hits her face. You did a great job! One improvement would be to either zoom out or zoom in more. I feel as though the chin is cut off at an angle that is slightly awkward.

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