Returning to Ryan

This portrait is from the beginnings of a photo story I’ve wanted to do since I started in multimedia. When my photography class was assigned a photo essay for the final project, Ryan immediately came to mind. I took pictures and wrote of Ryan’s amazing story about five years ago while still in high school, and I hadn’t spoken to him in person since then. When I called him about the project, he was almost as excited as I was.

Ryan Cockrell was pitching for Greenwood High School’s JV baseball team when a baseball him on the right of the head, leaving only the left side functioning. Ryan was hospitalized for many months, and told by several doctors and specialists that he would never walk or talk again. Ryan defied medical expectations, and is now a student at Piedmont Technical College with plans to soon attend USC. He lives with his parents on Lake Greenwood, SC and is more self-sufficient than ever with improved mobility (through therapy) and a special walker.

This photo is one my favorites. Here, Ryan is preparing to ride the Polaris ATV. Behind him are sports jerseys, which he proudly displays on his bedroom walls.

Candids Made Easy

It’d be easy for this blog to become an ode to pets and children, and to avoid this I’ve capped my pet/child-picture uploading at only a few photos. This one makes the blog because it was shot recently with the 80-200mm Prime Nikor lens, which is the most beautiful piece of equipment I’ve ever held. With an f/2.8 aperture, this lens is perfect for portraits and photojournalism. The lens is pretty heavy though, and If I were to go on a long shoot with this beast, I’d pack a monopod.

This picture was shot candidly of Jenna Broom and her dog Charlie. I like best the vibrant yellow background, which is an out of focus fall tree.

Learning of a Legacy

I’ve recently been researching Dorothea Lange and her works and am mesmerized by her photos. Before researching, I had, of course, seen the famous Migrant Mother and its variations, but her other works are equally as captivating and poignant. Lange worked as a documentary photographer and photojournalist during the Great Depression and WWII after giving up studio work. During the depression, Lange was hired by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) to capture the destitution experienced by migrant workers and their families. From her employment came some of the most influential portraits and photos of human expression I have ever seen.

I admire Lange’s photos for of her remarkable ability to capture the human condition, whether it be proud sharecroppers in the South, or poor, destitute migrant workers in the West. A tribute site to Lange wrote that if she were still alive today, she’d be photographing the homeless, the picketers, the farmers, etc. From what I can see of her work, I’d say this is plausible. I cannot help but compare myself to her, as I too use photography (and the other forms of journalism) to tell the stories of those people that might not otherwise have a voice.

Photos by Dorothea Lange


Capturing Motion

I shot this photo last winter at a fountain on USC’s campus. I was working on freezing motion with a high shutter speed, which was easy to do on this bright, sunny day. I took about a hundred photos and shot for hours, as the fountain’s design, discoloration, and flowing water lent to countless beautiful results. Since this shoot, I have worked with exaggerating and freezing motion and have improved my work significantly. I am still very fond of this shoot though, as they were my introduction into photography, and my first photos with my D90.


Abstract Design

A few weeks ago, I shot some design pictures for photography class. I took pictures of an old, abandoned building and really liked the turnout of a few. I usually like bold photos but the building provided a neutral palette that emphasized shapes and lines. Finding beauty in Columbia’s architecture isn’t always easy, but this shot proved it possible. I shot during the day, and would like to eventually return to the area to get some similar shots at sunrise or sunset, and to get closer to focus more on the curves.

At the Fair

I took this photo from the top of a Ferris wheel at the State Fair. I really like how the bright colors contrast the gray tones of the cityscape. Also, I think the time of day lends to great lighting. This was shot at 800 ISO. I used a high f-stop for a longer depth of field.

I went again to the fair on assignment with my photography class, and worked to capture action shots of people at the fair. This assignment was especially challenging, as waiting for the right moment was tedious and sometimes boring. I enjoy shooting people and their expressions, but timing theĀ  shots was difficult and I only captured a few good photos. The following pictures were taken with a standard zoom lens and were shot at about 100 ISO. I used various shutter speeds and apertures, depending on the situation.

Weekend Getaway

This past weekend, I took a trip with my mom to Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina to visit my little brother. My relationship with the mountains has always been rocky (pun not intended, but appreciated), as I enjoy the wildlife and the quiet, but am a horrible traveler. I get carsick easily, and the countless trips through winding mountain roads into Middle of Nowhere, Kentucky, as a child scarred me forever. This trip was no different; about halfway in, I was miserable with a migraine and nausea. Close to the park and about an hour from my brother’s residence, my mom and I stopped at Bald Rock. We followed the bustle of like-minded tourists and came across one of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen.

Out on the rock, I could see for countless miles into the distance. Only trees and rolling mountains filled the land for as far as our eyes would stretch. At this moment, I forgot about my ailments and annoyances with traveling and fully appreciated the breathtaking view of the Appalachian Mountains. After the time on Bald Rock, I was rejuvenated and ready for rest of my trip. The organic apples I ate from the trees were great, and the visit with my brother was even better. I actually plan to return to the beautiful area again soon for some camping and recreation, maybe this time armed with some Dramamine.

I didn’t take this photo (I found out while preparing to shoot the landscape that my camera was broken), but I kind of like it. The camera certainly doesn’t capture the beauty of the horizon, but I’m sure even the most experienced photographer would find doing so a daunting task.


I took this photo after working with portraiture in class. I know using kid subjects is cheating, but Eli (right) and Oreo (left) were playing and I couldn’t help myself. This kid actually hates having his picture taken, though you couldn’t tell from this shot. I like that I have the expression of both the boy and the pet, and though I didn’t use natural light, I like the composition. A bit commercial-looking, but I happen to like it.

Confederate Flag Rally

I captured this picture while at a confederate flag rally earlier this year. A gospel band traveled to sing at the rally in opposition of the confederate flag flying in front of the State House. Although this man looks calm and serene, there was much chaos around him. I liked the juxtaposition of his demeanor and the busy, noisy rally. The photos taken this day were especially hard to capture because of the bright, almost reflective steps of the building. I had to consider this when shooting, and compensated by overexposing the subject.

Long Exposure

I took this photo a few months ago while on an excursion with a fellow photographer . We grabbed tripods and decided to shoot some night scenes of the cityscape from the Greystone Bridge. This photo was captured using a 30 second exposure and a long aperture. I love the way the car lights paint lines into the photo.

© Copyright 2007 Meagean Dugger . Thanks for visiting!