COM 364A ASSIGNMENT: Portrait on the Street and Self Portrait

A portrait on the street:

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Angela Maria Favre, or “mama love,” 52, poses for a photograph at Westlake Park in Seattle, Wash, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Favre provides “spiritual healing” and free palm readings daily as a “psychic” at Westlake and has lived near Pike Place Market for the past twenty years after moving from New Orleans. “You’ll capture some spirits [around Westlake park] alright,” she says, adding that she burns sage at her apartment to ward off any supernatural beings. “I don’t want to take home any ghosts.” (Shot with a 35mm f/1.8 lens on a Nikon D7000.)

Self-portrait and reflection:

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I took the Myers Briggs personality test and was pegged as having an “adventurer” personality, technically dubbed “ISFP-T”. Most of this classification seems accurate, while portions seem a shade off the mark. The test judged me to be introverted, observant, and turbulent—which I think translates to insecure—which all seem fairly accurate. The test also labeled me as being fairly emotional in how I deal with my own feelings, which I think is slightly off the mark (my only countering information is my own self-concept in which I’m fairly rational). Regardless, I think this broad personality characterization has both strengths and weaknesses for the purposes of journalism. I think I am a good listener and am observant, which makes me good at reading situations as well as interviewing people helping them feel comfortable. But I’m also somewhat shy, which can impede approaching interview subjects in the first place. It is also reflected in my photography, especially my street photography, in that most of my pictures of people are taken from behind them, due to my hesitation to directly approach them and take their photograph or ask for permission. Additionally, I’ve found that I sometimes have trouble adjusting my language and vocabulary to the person I am speaking with (in order to make them feel comfortable) and not utilize academic or ‘high-brow’ jargon that I would normally use in other contexts. Lastly, I think my background helps me be empathetic and comfortable with those who come from different backgrounds than me. While I come from a position of privilege and innate implicit bias (as a middle-class white male who grew up in a loving and supportive home environment), I was also an exchange student for one year in Indonesia in high school, during which I lived with a Muslim host family and went to a Muslim high school. I also went to Seattle Central College where my classmates ranged from formerly incarcerated adults retraining for the contemporary workforce to second generation Somali-Americans. Additionally, my late brother suffered from mental illness (i.e. schizophrenia) and frequently experienced homelessness, which I think makes me appreciate the severity and complexity of those issues. Despite these experiences, I still find myself forgetting to check my own privilege; for example, I am financially secure, and frequently am reminded of this privilege when talking with people. I definitely take this security for granted and the advantages it provides for me in terms of opportunities and quality of life. It’s a constant project to prevent implicit bias or assumptions based on my individual experience skew the way I view and interact with the world, particularly in journalistic work.

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