Interview by James Scott Berdahl

Caroline is a Freshman, concentration undecided. This fall she took Sharon Harper’s Intro to Photography.

James Scott Berdahl: Tell me about your project.

Caroline Cuse: I’m taking pictures that are inspired by physical phenomena like reflection, refraction, magnification, interference and color separation–that sort of thing. The phenomena inspire the pictures, but then I try to diverge from the traditional kind of shot, the kind of thing you’d see in a science textbook. A lot of them become abstract.

JSB: So do you have an interest then in physics, in optics?

CC: Yeah, I was really interested in optics in high school, so this is a sort of continuation of that.

JSB: What draws you to abstraction—what do you like about it?

CC: I love the purity and the clarity. I also really like the fact that the viewer can bring his own experience to the picture when he/she views something without a lot of context.

JSB: Do you have a theme that you see unifying all of these?

CC: I guess just looking for light in interesting situations and looking at the way that light can behave and be abstracted by different things like prisms. I took a vase and filled it with water, and then I brought it to different places to photograph through it. I used paint and a paintbrush for color, the undersides of CDs to show diffraction, light reflecting off of water, and I used a lot of prisms.

JSB: Is there anything in particular you want people to take away after seeing your pictures?

CC: I want people to see how beautiful science can be.

JSB: How do you find the pictures you take?

CC: I set up a lot of them. Like the CDs and the prism stuff; if I see something I like I’ll look for pictures in it. The pool ones—I just decided that I wanted to try some underwater pictures.

JSB: So sometimes you plan them out beforehand, other times something just catches your eye?

CC: Yeah, like when I was taking pictures in my pool over Thanksgiving, there were some things I knew I wanted to do. I took a lot where I was pointing the camera at the surface of the water and taking pictures of that, but then the light on the bottom of the pool was just something that I saw when I was swimming.

JSB: I like how that one turned out.

CC: Thanks. The foreground is a pattern of light refracting down through the surface, and then where it cuts off; the dark area is just the back of the pool. The back wall.

JSB: Do you have an underwater camera then?

CC: I used an underwater disposable camera; I shot two rolls on it.

JSB: What else did you shoot the project with?

CC: The Pentax 35 mm camera they gave us in class

JSB: And what is your background in photography?

CC: I started taking photography classes in school when I was thirteen, but I had always taken pictures. I transferred high schools when I was a junior, and at the high school I transferred into I got to do an independent study. I did that on physics and photography, so I’ve done a lot of this kind of stuff before.

JSB: What’s your major now, what year are you?

CC: I’m a freshman. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.

JSB: Photography?

CC: We’ll see.


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