Goya’s Madrid – Final Project

The focus of our final photography project was, of course, Madrid.  More than simply portraying the city, though, we had to show Madrid through the eyes of another artist.  The professor gave us the choice of three men—Pedro Almodovar, Francisco de Goya, or Earnest Hemingway—who have all spent a significant amount of time in Madrid.  For these artists, Madrid influenced them just as the city experiences their presence today.

I chose Goya, the famous Spanish painter, because I thought that the man whose ideas have existed the longest would be the easiest to depict.  This, though, was one of the biggest difficulties of the project.  We had to photograph things that weren’t really there.  Pursuing Goya’s Madrid turned out to be more difficult than anticipated.  With a New York Times audio guide of Goya-related locations as my project road map, I made my way around the city, doing my best to document the artist’s essence.  Unfortunately, many Goya locations, such as museums and churches, prohibited photography.  My photo collection in tribute to the artist is not as balanced as I would have liked, specifically lacking people interacting with ideas of Goya today.  Given the restrictions, however, I feel that I was able to successfully convey a feel for the artist, albeit somewhat literally.


A larger-than-life bust of Francisco de Goya looks out over Madrid, Spain from the San Isidro Park on May 1, 2016.  Goya painted landscapes of the San Isidro meadows in both his light and dark periods.



A man seeking financial assistance sits in a sunny crosswalk at Calle de Goya in Madrid, Spain on April 14, 2016.  Francisco de Goya often found inspiration for his work in social class divides.



Members of the Spanish Civil Guard march along Calle Mayor in the Dos de Mayo parade in Madrid, Spain on May 2, 2016.  Two of Francisco de Goya’s most famous works, The Second of May 1808 and The Third of May 1808, commemorate the events of Spanish rebellion against the French occupation.



A tapestry of the Royal Coat of Arms of Spain decorates the reception area of the Royal Palace of Madrid on April 18, 2016.  The Royal Tapestry Factory, where this hanging was produced, also converts many of Francisco de Goya’s paintings from canvas to tapestry.



A young girl recedes from observation of Francisco de Goya’s The Sermon of Saint Bernardino of Siena in the Royal Basilica of San Francisco el Grande in Madrid, Spain on April 27, 2016.  Goya placed himself in this painting, as he did in many of his other works, garnering a reputation for direct and indirect self-portraits.



A man considers postcard replications of some of Francisco de Goya’s most famous works in the Prado National Museum in Madrid, Spain on May 10, 2016.  The Prado Museum is home to many Goya masterpieces.



The photographer reveals herself in the mirrors of the Royal Basilica of San Francisco el Grande in Madrid, Spain on April 27, 2016.  The church houses one of Francisco Goya’s own self-portraits, The Sermon of Saint Bernardino of Siena.



A cherub light fixture hangs from the frescoed ceiling of the Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida in Madrid, Spain on May 6, 2016.  Not only did Francisco de Goya paint the ceilings of this chapel, but it is also the site where he is buried.



Goya’s signature, etched in stone, peeks through the fencing around his commemorative statue on Paseo de la Florida in Madrid, Spain on May 6, 2016.  The statue honors Goya across the street from his burial site in the Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida.


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A bird rests on top of the head of a statue of Francisco de Goya in Madrid, Spain on May 6, 2016.  The statue, located across the street from Goya’s burial site in the Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida, celebrates the artist’s skill and talent.



A family picnics in the San Isidro Park in Madrid, Spain on May 1, 2016.  Though different than what would have been observed two hundred years ago, Francisco de Goya painted visitors of the San Isidro meadows early in his career.



The title of an etching by Francisco de Goya trims the base of the Goya statue that guards an entrance to the Prado National Museum in Madrid, Spain on May 10, 2016.  The nightmare that befalls Goya in this etching, El sueño de la razón produce monstrous, or The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, is of the corruption of the Spanish society of his time.

Based off of an assignment that my professor completed for the New York Times, the second feature of the project was that it was to be executed like a real photojournalist’s assignment.  As if our photos were to be seen in a publication accompanying a travel text, we had to submit 12 photos, complete with journalistic captions, to our professor who role-played as editor of the publication.  From my 12 photos, and the 12 photos each from the three other students in the Goya group, he curated a collection that best represented Goya’s Madrid.

The final print of the collage-like compilation hung outside of our program director’s office for our peers to observe.  Four of the ten photos that my teacher chose to represent Goya are my work, including the cover photo of the collection.  The balance between my perspective and those of my fellow group members’ made for a very cohesive and diverse product that we are all proud of.




You can check out the other groups’ work on our class blog.


Profile – Assignment 4

Because of my professor’s busy and unpredictable freelance schedule, our 50 Strangers assignment has ended early.  Keeping with the “stranger” theme, but focusing on a new project technique, we were tasked with producing a stranger profile.  The profile consists of four images: a portrait, a detail, an action, and a reaction.  For my assignment, I chose to photograph my roommate’s boyfriend who was visiting for the week.  I incorporated their relationship in my photos to show greater dynamics of his character.  Below are my favorite shots from the week.














My favorite photo

Week 7 – Recap

If I wasn’t getting out of my comfort zone on my own after seven weeks in Spain, my teachers were going to force me out.

As a part of the second of four oral presentations that I will give in Spanish this semester, I had to survey Spaniards on the street.  All presentations are about our anticipated professional field.  For me, it is public relations.  To get the most insightful answers in the most efficient way, I created questions that could be answered in just a few words, or even numbers, to assure that I understood my data.  I was anxious to approach the Spaniards because of the language barrier, with my embarrassing pronunciation and limited vocabulary.  My victims, however, were extremely patient with my speaking attempts, and participated whole-heartedly in my survey.  These enjoyable exchanges were a pleasant surprise after the expected coarseness that I had experienced just few weeks ago.  It seems as if you put your best efforts forward, the Spaniards will reciprocate.  I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I may actually be picking up a thing or two while studying abroad—  I’ll be a madrileña yet!

My intrusions, however, have just begun.  Learn about my current photography project, 50 Strangers, and check out my most recent photojournalism post to find out what I’ve been working on!


Paz, Amor, Madrid


50 Strangers

My largest photography project thus far, the 50 Strangers assignment is exactly what it sounds like— I must photograph 50 strangers around Madrid.

This assignment utilizes portrait style composition, with options for selective focus and framing.  Outside of photography, it forces use of Spanish and charisma.

Some of my strangers were shot HONY-style in my Humans of Madrid assignment, but 50 photos allow for endless creativity.  Because “50 Strangers” is long term, you won’t be able to meet everyone at once, but below are a few strangers of Madrid that are now a little less strange.

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Humans of Madrid – Assignment 3

Though nothing is ever as charming and as satisfying as the original, my photojournalism classmates and I were tasked with producing Humans of Madrid.  Based off of the humorous, heart-breaking, and humbling Humans of New York, I had to seek out the most interesting souls in Madrid and share their stories for all of Instagram to see (#usachumansofmadrid).  As a photography student, looking the part with an obtrusive camera hanging from my neck, I did not have a problem snapping photos of the people of Madrid.  The flaw in the execution, however, was communication.

Though slightly more daunting in a foreign country, I was not uncomfortable approaching someone and presenting my scripted question, “¿Puedo hacer tu foto para mi clase de fotographía?”  Somewhat more difficult was asking them to share interesting or personal information to a complete stranger who now also had their photo.  If you found success after the first two steps of the process, it was all for nothing if you could not comprehend their response.  Understanding my subjects’ stories was the most difficult part of the assignment for me.  I did not mind interacting with strangers, but so much of this interaction got lost in translation.  I wish I had a greater knowledge of Spanish, like some of my classmates, for deeper, more intimate quotes and anecdotes to accompany their photographs.  Because I did not have the language comprehension ability to simply approach a person and ask for an interesting fact about themselves or what they did that day, I had to use my surroundings and create settings where I could utilize my environment to deliver the appropriate amount of depth with my captions.

This assignment, though at times frustrating, was interesting, entertaining, and in the end, a welcome challenge.  I got to practice my Spanish, as well as exercise my creativity.  Below are the photos and captions of some of my Humans of Madrid.  Check back on my Photojournalism page for more strangers, without stories, coming soon from my biggest photo project yet!


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“I am a [photography] student too.  Always learning.” (translated from Spanish)

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Coco & Carla: “They’re only one, but they already want to run.”


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“People ask to take his picture everywhere we go.” (left, of right)


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“I like the chocolate and orange fudge bars… too much.”

Panning – Assignment 2

This week’s composition focus was a technique called panning.  Panning requires the photographer to focus on a subject in motion, following the moving subject with the camera.  The motion of the camera produces a blurred background while keeping the subject in focus.  To produce these images, my class and I went to Retiro Park to capture bikers, rollerbladers, runners, and cars.  Though it was a cloudy day and unusually quiet, we were still able to try our new technique.

To achieve a panning photo, we altered our shutter speeds to find which captured the clearest images.  With a range from 1 second to 1/60 of a second, we found that the best panning photos were taken at around 1/15 of a second.  We also realized that this technique is more effective when using fast-moving subjects.  Though not your everyday photo composition strategy, panning can be used to capture an event in a creative way.

Below are some of my panning shots at differing shutter speeds, varying in clarity.


Shutter speed: 1 second



Shutter speed: 1/5 of a second




Shutter speed: 1/10 of a second



Shutter speed: 1/20 of a second



Shutter speed: 1/30 of a second

Framing – Assignment 1

This week in photojournalism, we discussed composition techniques.  Our first assignment was to employ framing, or shooting our subject through a frame other than the camera’s.  Though the practice is simple, completing the assignment was difficult.  Once I adjusted my eye to look for framing opportunities, I found that often the frame existed, but the subject did not.  This method of photo composition requires patience, and highlights Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment,” or, essentially, having the stars align for the perfect shot.

Below are my top five shots of the assignment, also posted on Instagram, #madridusacframe.