Falconer Public Library

101 W. Main Street  Falconer, New York 14733  



Elise Cusimano

    The photo above has been awarded Honorable Mention in the 34th Annual College and High School Photography Contest National contest, sponsored by Nikon USA and Photographer’s Forum Magazine. It will appear in the Best of College and High School Photography 2014 to be published in June of this year.

    Like many photographers, I took a liking to cameras at a young age. It fascinated me how a simple piece of equipment could freeze a moment in time with a click of a button. Before my tenth birthday and up to my middle teens, I used photography mainly for documentation purposes, not as an artistic expression. I believed that if only I had the perfect camera, then my photographs would suddenly exceed satisfactory status. On my quest for the best equipment and the best “how to” books, I slowly came to the realization that maybe it’s not the camera after all. Maybe, it’s the photographer, and how they manipulate their tools. With fresh determination, I decided to learn how to use a manual DSLR and the qualities of composing a photograph. Surely after I did this, my photographs would be exceptional. There was still something wrong. All the studying, reading, and countless attempts produced status quo results. I thought I had done everything in my power to become a good photographer. It was this period of self-doubt and feeling of defeat that urged me to take a class at my college. Last spring, I took a Black and White Film Photography course at JCC with Mark Kirsch that resurfaced the passion I possessed deep down. It took a semester behind a film camera and countless hours of developing the developing in the darkroom to cherish the true value of a photograph once more. An essential part of being a photographer, I am learning, is having intentions behind every photograph I compose. Photography is more than just documenting events and people and things. It is a creative medium for expressing emotion and beauty. That’s why nothing I did was working before. There was no goal, no purpose in my photographs. I used to think my passion for photography was worldly, and that it clashed with my faith, but now I know it’s exactly the opposite. These unique talents we possess are to be used to give God glory by using them to love and help others. My goal is to reflect the beauty of nature and humankind back to the world. Every great photographer has a motivation and this is mine.

    Eight of the fifteen photographs in the collection are from either of the two Black and White Photography classes I took at JCC. These were taken with 35mm black and white film that I developed and printed in the darkroom. These photographs were all once part of different series, each with different intentions depending on the nature of the assignment. The oddball of the collection was taken with a Kodak Century Portrait Camera from the 1900’s.  All of the color photographs in the display are digital photographs and have minor, post-production edits.

    I currently have a side business, Ellie Photography, in addition to being a full time college student and holding a part-time job.



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