Brianna Robinson often spends hours trolling through fashion photography and viewing films carefully studying lighting and angles.
But when faced with the challenge of creating her own art photography portfolio for class, Brianna said she wasnt sure where to begin. Until an idea literally hit her.
I had no clue what I wanted to do until I was hanging up a picture and I slipped and fell on my bed. So I thought, What if I do a picture where I was floating?
Brianna, a senior at Mallard Creek High, turned her floating idea into an eight-photo portfolio of floating figures. Each photograph, which she manipulated digitally, represents an emotion or concept, including grief, happiness, fantasy and freedom. And now, Brianna is being honored nationally for that work.
Brianna is one of 15 students in the nation to receive a portfolio gold medal in the 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The medal is the competitions highest honor.
This year, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit that administers the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, received more than 200,000 submissions from students nationally in grades 7-12.
Brianna also received a $10,000 scholarship, and she will be honored at an awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall in June. While at Carnegie Hall, winners will be recognized onstage alongside award alumnus Edward Sorel a political satirist whose work is regularly featured in New York magazine and Vanity Fair.
Briannas winning artwork will then be featured in a two-week exhibit at Parsons The New School For Design in Manhattan.
On the upcoming New York trip, gold medal winners will also be recognized when officials light the Empire State Building gold, said Kristin St. Martin, photography teacher at Mallard Creek High.
(Brianna) is definitely one of the hardest-working students and she is diligent in her work, St. Martin said. There is no one more deserving.
Brianna said she draws her artistic inspiration from her favorite artist, Andy Warhol, who also once received the portfolio gold medal in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.
In her own work, she said, her favorite image is the picture depicting loss. I was walking through the hallway (in my house) and I came across a photo of my grandfather who passed away in 2009.
Brianna then created a photo to evoke a feeling of grief. She first shot a picture of her hallway lined with photos. She then photographed herself standing on a stool with her head down and body hunched over.
To give the illusion of floating, Brianna said she used Photoshop to layer the two images, then erase the stool from under her feet. After a few exposure and level adjustments, the image was complete.
Other images Brianna created involve her floating while opening a door, hovering over her bed while reading a novel and one of a friend levitating horizontally above a couch.
Once she came up with the floating figure concept, she just ran with it, St. Martin said.
Brianna said she has not always been interested in studying photography because she thought she wanted to become a fashion designer. But after taking a fashion class she did not enjoy, she decided to enroll in a photography course her sophomore year.
Now, it is Briannas goal to go to college and become a fashion photographer or a director of photography for films, she said.
My favorite photos to take are portraits of people, Brianna said. And I like to manipulate photos. I can spend hours and hours retouching photos.
Briannas advice to beginning photographers is to do research on how to capture a photo and use photo-editing software.
As for receiving the national award, Brianna smiled and simply said, I cant believe it.