Essay1 rough draft Different Lights

Michael Shanosky

Professor Hoskins

College Writing

27 February 2017

Different Lights


People tend to see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. Especially now more than ever, many individuals and groups only seem to see things that fit their narrative. I specifically spent time and looked at Franklin Square in downtown Washington, D.C. I found it very interesting that the way I photographed Franklin Square can affect the way that it is perceived and viewed. Franklin Square can be portrayed in many different lights.

Background Photgraphy shaping narratives: (1)

Photography has been around for nearly two centuries, and from the beginning, many people realized that photos can be used to influence others. The ability to capture a moment in time forever and share it with others. That is what my personal definition of photography. However, often the truth is lost in photos. That is one of the downsides of photography, that picture only gives the audience a glimpse of the what is really going on. Because of how easy it is for the truth to be lost in photo, frequently, many people take advantage of this by only taking pictures of what fits their already pre existing narrative, and leaving out anything that goes against their opinion. This can and is abused by sensational journalism, politicians, and anyone else trying to illustrate their own narrative. It is crucial to not allow oneself to fall victim to this and always be looking for new information, especially if it contradicts a belief that one might already have.   

Background Franklin Square: (2)

Franklin Square was created in 1832 as a park in downtown Washington, D.C. It is believed to be named after Benjamin Franklin, although this just an assumption. Throughout that time, the park and the area directly surrounding it have seen some major historical events. Including, Alexander Graham Bell’s first wireless message, and Clara Barton founding of the Red Cross and hosting its first official meeting. Today it serves as a park for the neighborhoods surrounding it, as well as home to the Washington Post.

Photos in Positive Light:

The bridge between photos shaping narratives and Franklin Square can be scene in some of these photos. It is possible form different ideas of the park after seeing each photo. Meaning, that if one person was shown one picture of the park they would come up with a completely different conclusion about the park than if they saw a different picture. In the two photos pictured above, what conclusions would someone make about Franklin Square? That it looks clean, well-kept, welcoming? This is the point of the photos. Every photo has a purpose, and a reason to be taken. These two photos are used to portray the square in a very optimistic and welcoming light.


Photos in Negative Light:


In contrast to the two other photos, the photo that I have pictured above shows Franklin Square in vastly different way. The conclusions that someone could draw from this photo would be quite the opposite of what they were for the other photos. In this photo, homeless people can be seen camped out in tents and on park benches on a dim day. A person’s conclusion of Franklin Square is going to be different if shown this picture instead of the other two. The real interesting thing about comparing this photo and the one of the Washington Post building is that they were taken the same week as one another. Again this just furthers my point that photos shape narratives and different conclusions can be drawn about the same place by simply the way it’s photographed, and Franklin Square is no exception.

We already know that photos of the same place can lead to two different conclusions, but why does this matter? These three photos can also be used by people to strengthen pre existing narratives. For example, a local business owner would probably want the public and his customers to see photos of the park that show it as a very welcoming friendly place to visit. This could make more people open to coming to the area, which would lead to more people coming to the business owner’s shop. However, in contrast, a sensationalizing news agency might instead want to use the the picture of the homeless people in a story about how the homeless are “encroaching” into our neighborhoods. In both of these instances, someone is manipulating the truth to fit their narrative for their own gain.


Photos from Inauguration Day Protests:

The two photos I have pictured above are from Franklin Square on the evening of the Inauguration. They show two very different stories even though they were only taken minutes apart. The first photo shows in the foreground, a riot police officer standing by himself looking off into the distance. While, in the background, a group of riot police huddle talking to one another without much worry of what is happening. This is very different from what is happening in the other photo, where there is two groups of people at conflict and the same riot officers are on alert blockading part of the road. In these two instances only taken moments apart, much like that photos of Franklin Square itself, an audience will come up with different conclusions of what they think is happening. The first photo makes the need for police to even be on the scene seem pointless and that the protests were minor. Whereas, in the second photo the tension from the protestors, the supporters, and the police seem almost palpable. It does not matter if it is a place, an event, or anything else; photos can be used to manipulate ideas and depict things way some people want to see them.



Photography has the amazing ability to capture a moment in time. That moment can be one of joy and success, sadness and failure, and every possible thing in between. These moments can and are often used to shape and solidify preexisting narratives. This can be shown at Franklin Square, both with the contrast of the positive and negative photos, as well as with the photos from inauguration day.


Works Cited

Caple, Helen, and Monika Bednarek. “Rethinking News Values: What a Discursive Approach Can Tell Us about the Construction of News Discourse and News Photography.” Journalism, vol. 17, no. 4, 2 Feb. 2015, pp. 435–455., doi:10.1177/1464884914568078. Accessed 26 Feb. 2017.


National Park Service; (PEPC) Planning, Environment and Public Comment


Photo credits (order as depicted) :

WP: “AgnosticPreachersKid”

Sign: “Jeff”

Homeless: Vera Carothers

Inauguration 1: own work

Inauguration 2: own work

American University Website Analysis

American University’s website goal is to show that American University prides itself on it’s academics, it’s location, and the success of their graduates and current students. The targeted websites audience is prospective students, although a portion of the website is intended for Alumni, current students, and professors. The website was most likely created by website developers and designers with instruction from American University administration. The Purpose of the site is to give the reader an idea about what attending American University could be like as well as what one can expect.

Commonplace 5 Life is Strange

I wish I could stay in this moment forever. But then it wouldn’t be a moment.” -Max Caulfield, Life is Strange

Here Max Caulfield, the main protagonist in the game Life is Strange, states that she wishes she could stay in one happy moment forever. However, she believes that this would take away what truly makes that moment so amazing. Meaning that we cannot always have the happy moments. A lot of what makes the good moments so good is that they are so much better than the bad moments. If we just lived in the same happy moment we would not really be happy.

Digital Archive 5 Franklin Square

View of the Washington Post building from Franklin Square. There are some sharp contrasts in many of the photos. From the the homeless sleeping on the park benches, the protests on inauguration day, and the more appealing photo here. The point I am trying to make is that with anything one is photographing there are an infinite ways to capture something to fit a specific narrative.

Digital Archive 3 Franklin Square

Photo from Inauguration day next to Franklin Square. This picture captures some of the emotion and feeling of that day by the two crowds as well as the police. Some of the protesters had formed a line blocking traffic and police from getting through. The police lined up against them to contain the protesters to Franklin Square. Some Trump supporters can also be seen protecting the police by forming there own line directly in front of the police.


“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” -John Lennon


I find this quote from John Lennon quite interesting. Basically what he is saying is that life is cannot be planned out but instead it is the spontaneous things that we do not prepare for, that is what makes up life. I came across this quote while playing one my favorite games, Life is Strange, and it I believe that it perfectly sums up that game as well as how people should view the world and their life.

Reading Analysis 2: Architectural Exclusion


Architectural Exclusion Reading Analysis

In Susan Schindler’s Architectural Exclusion, she argues that there has been a lot of work and research already done on discrimination through laws and social norms. However, she believes that not enough people are talking about how people are discriminated against through architecture. She provides multiple examples to where and how different people were discriminated against. One such example is that in Long Island, to get to this one beach cars need to pass under a very low bridge. Most cars can pass under with no issue, however, it is impossible for buses to pass under these bridges. A result of this is that no buses can get to that beach. So, the people that would typically use the bus — i.e poor minorities — cannot get to the beach keeping it whiter and richer.

There are many examples just like this one that the author uses to make her main point that this idea of  architectural exclusion exists and is rampant across the country. Personally, I had never even considered this to be a possible way of discrimination. But after reading some of the examples the author mentions it impossible not to believe that discrimination is occurring this way and that it needs to be stopped. This lesser known form of discrimination needs to be brought to light and remedied.