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160: One & Two

While doing some initial research for this project I came across some statistics. In 2010 32,885 lives were claimed by roads. This is unfortunately the lowest rate on record since at least 1994 when the database began recording*.

This means that roughly 100 lives are lost to a car accident a day.

Thats 3 souls per hour or more.

Thats 3 families an hour that will never see their loved one again.

These roadside memorials are only a fraction of that. If that isn’t a sobering statistic, I’m not sure what is.

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Portfolio Development: The Final Ten

Well its about that time. My Portfolio Development class has now officially ended, today we had our final class and got to see what everyone has been working on. I somehow managed to finish despite a couple setbacks and laziness (and I got an A if anyones keeping track). Now that the class is done for this semester (going back for round 2 in fall), I wanted to start sharing my final 10 with you guys.

160, this one was not part of the final 10 but I shot it a few feet away from a really sad roadside memorial for a family.

But first, a little background about this project.

I originally came up with this idea when I was around 19 or so and started taking a lot of local road trips. I had discovered how much I liked going for drives and loved exploring rural areas like the Delta or the country in areas like Wilton or Jackson, and even wine country. One thing I happened to always notice was the alarmingly high amount of roadside memorials I would see along the way. I distinctly remember one trip through the wine country and counting the amount of roadside markers I saw. It was chilling. But it sparked a curiosity in me. Why do families do these? I wonder how they get it there? How long have some of these been around? Why did that person die? These are questions I’m still asking and trying to find answers to with this project. Back then I decided that I would like to someday create a book with all these roadside markers telling their story.

Well this phase of my project is just scratching the surface of that curiosity and story. For this Portfolio Development class I decided to shoot 10 photos from these roadside memorials, along one of my favorite places to drive, Highway 160 along the Sacramento River, known also as River Road. Obtaining the information behind each memorial has proven to be more difficult than I had originally thought but this summer I’m dedicating myself to investigating these thoroughly, I feel like I owe it to these people to tell their story and hopefully make people painfully aware about being safer on these dangerous rural roads.

I’ll be posting each roadside memorial in a 5 part series for the next few Wednesdays and sharing some of the information I’ve learned along the way. I definitely hope you can take something away from it as I have.

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Adventures in Portfolio Development: Self-Promo

Now that the days of myspace and customizing the crap out of their layouts is gone, not many people are aware that I have a teeny bit of background in graphic design. It started out as editing pictures and adding text, like any normal forwarding-thinking 17 year old was doing at the time, and progressed to designing a website that I never even ended up launching, even though I had painfully taught myself how to image map links in what is now considered outdated HTML. I even had a semester in a graphic design class and won some honorable mentions. Ask anyone who used to follow me on livejournal I used to go nuts with creating my own little graphics with text and images, some were terrible, some I’m actually quite proud of. I digress.

This week in my port class we are creating our or self-promo images which could be either HTML/email promos, takeaway cards, or mailers. I chose a 5×7 takeaway and got to work right away. I had an idea in my mind to keep it minimal and clean (which is hard for me because I love love love those annoying illustrated fonts), with the main focus being on my work, not the design. Anyway, I realized how grateful I am to have the basic understanding of graphic design I do because some of my classmates were totally lost and using “Curlz” as their font or stolen graphics from google. I can’t make this shit up. Photographers are NOT graphic designers, and trust me, when the time comes and I can afford to professionally brand myself, I’m hiring a pro designer.

valerie figueroa promo card side 1
promo takeaway side 1
valerie figueroa promo card side 2
promo takeaway side 2, minus the background image I have yet to shoot

This is what I have so far, the backside of the card is intentionally blank because I have yet to shoot the image I’m going to use as the background. Ideally I’d like to shoot  just straight road since its such a huge character in the story I am trying to tell. I haven’t decided if it’ll be head-on, at any angles, or how I’m going to play with the DOF, but I’ll figure it out as I shoot.

Anyway I know I’ve been quiet so I wanted to share my latest bit of work with ya’ll.

Tell me what you think so far and Happy Pi Day!

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Edit No.1

So today I have my very first round of edits for my portfolio development class. Our professor wanted us to have 40 edited down pictures for him to choose roughly 5 from. I super procrastinated (mostly because I’ve been so exhausted with life all I’ve been doing is sleeping) and only ended up shooting about 70 frames…oops. I’m kind of nervous, but also excited to get some feedback, out of the 10 locations I need to shoot I did test shots for 5 of them. I only call them test shots because I’m not sure which ones I’m going to use and which I’m going to re-shoot or shoot more of depending on the feedback I get today.

I will say that I’m pleasantly surprised. I got a late start on the day so I only had about an hour and a half to shoot and drive along the river, so the sun was great at times and horrible at times. Also these places aren’t that accessible by foot, some of them I was literally sitting on a slope leading into the river with my back inches away from speeding cars – yikes. After my first roll today I stupidly opened the back of my camera, I really don’t know what i was thinking- I wasn’t, and I hadn’t wound my film back into the canister yet. I was convinced i ruined the entire roll but turns out i only ruined 2 frames and got a cool light leak on one!

All in all the first round of shooting went well, I had to make a couple compromises for my portfolio, like I had originally planned to shoot at the time of the accidents BUT 1 its horribly unsafe and 2 the light would suck at night there, so I think I’m going to just stick to late afternoon & evening light for this portfolio.

Anyway I’ll be sure to post some of the final edits once I find out which ones made the cut! Wish me luck!!

Ps. As a hardcore Fuji film girl I was really disappointed my local Ritz didn’t have any in stock, I had to settle for Kodak Gold for one roll and I was disappointed, I love the tones I get from Fuji. I did however receive my shipment of Fuji Superia PRO today from B&H though…. I’m excited to test it out!

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a high of 80 and partly cloudy


We’ve been having some unseasonably cool weather this week and this morning I woke up to a tiny bit of overcast…which makes me crave a trip to the bay, I really can’t remember the last time I went, I’ve been hitting up Bodega too often instead of SF and Berkeley. I think today I’m gonna do it. I’ve been talking about it for a while. But today it just feels right.

Plus I’ve really been dying to put on a cardigan and maybe even a scarf. (caution: I love scarf weather, I am obsessed)