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Spotlight on Photography

Vanessa Woods
SHP photography teacher Vanessa Woods commends two students’ AP Photography projects
Investigating the Binary
Over the four years that Finn Heinzen (SHP ’23) has worked with me at Sacred Heart Preparatory, he has pursued his artistic vision with determination and creativity. For his sustained investigation project for AP Photo, Finn explored how the gender binary is experienced and resisted—and subsequently conformed to—by a male and female subject. Using two distinct environments, the bedroom for his female subject and the natural world for his male subject, he devised a variety of technical and compositional strategies to illustrate gender binaries. Using techniques as far ranging as collage, masking, and light painting, Finn generated and disrupted literal and metaphoric gender binaries in his photos. From concept to process, his body of work examined ideas of each subject’s “held gender expectations” and how ultimately each conformed to society’s expectations of them. The sequencing was also deeply considered in this work, with the final frame showcasing the subjects turning away from each other with a visible tear serving as a palpable symbol of the binary.
Destigmatizing Mental Health
Harold Nguyen’s (SHP ’23) deep emotional sensitivity and concerns about destigmatizing mental health resulted in rich conceptual and aesthetic work that showcases great creative range. For his sustained investigation project in AP Photo, he generated a body of work, titled “Mirrors of our Mentality,” in which he personified his journey with depression using himself and his sister as his subjects. With sequences of images implicating time, progression, and regression, his aim was to show that depression is a condition that follows you, at times growing dominant and at other times receding into the shadows. Through extensive experimentation and revision, Harold landed on the idea of sequenced image groups to tell his story. In the sequences, the camera continually moves closer and further away from the subject, representing that “depression is continually growing and shrinking in one’s process of recovery.” The cinematic sequences from this project are deeply inventive and use a variety of processes to explore ideas of mental health and identity. His experimentation is made evident in the brilliant experimentation across frames, the varied points of view, or the use of the mirror as a symbol for the confrontation of self. 

Sacred Heart Schools Atherton

Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton

150 Valparaiso Ave
Atherton, CA 94027
650 322 1866
Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12