Thursday, November 20, 2008


The book is done! I cant express how happy I am with the results, I submitted it a couple nights ago, and it should be coming in the mail soon. Everything went well and it all came together nicely. I plan on showing it at my school, Cal State San Marcos, on the same night that I will be showing my other project, December 6th. I still have to finish the rest of shooting the jacket in public places and then make prints of the photos. The feeling to have the book done is amazing, with proposition 8 silencing so many, I feel that this book is a great way to use my voice.
By Casey Johnston

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Public Space

I thought I would share a little bit about another project I'm working on for my process class. I'm still using the jacket as material as metaphor and this time I'm taking it into public spaces. I was a little nervous at first to do it, but the truth is when you are doing it, its invigorating. To hear what people are saying around you and to see their reaction is like a mini performance in itself. I plan on making larger prints of these photos and placing them in the art show. Here are a couple of unedited pictures I have taken so far.

It's been a while..

It's been a while since I have blogged about the project. During these past few weeks I have continued to spend countless hours on the book, from shooting photos, to editing, to working with some page layouts. I have grown very attached to this project this semester and have become more so attached after the depressing passing of proposition 8. It's sad to be considered a second class citizen for being gay when under the constitution we are supposed to be all created equal. We took one huge step with welcoming pres-elect Obama but at the same time took a huge step back in eliminating rights for gays in California. As protests and rallies continue I feel like this project has giving me something to share with society. I talked to Tim Miller a little bit about the project and he agrees that these "are straightjacket times."

Like I said, the past few weeks have been really busy. I had a couple of performances, one with Dough Patterson and Michael Mufson, and another with Olive Berienga at the Museum of Man, GREAT EXPERIENCES!! I was even in the school newspaper under the Student Spotlight section. It felt pretty cool to be in the newspaper and have one of the straightjacket photos in it, it was kind of liberating.

I have finished taking all of the photos that I need to complete the book using 7-8 different people. After taking photos of them I had them write some reflections as to what they thought about while they were in the jacket and how they felt. Some had some extreme hatred towards the current decision of denying people their rights and chose to write about it. I will use their writings as the text in my book, I plan on scanning in what they wrote and taking bits and pieces placing words and phrases on the page spreads. Being that it will be their writing I think it will be more intimate, it'll bring viewers into the pages of the book and maybe even allow them to reflect on a time where they felt oppression.

Surprisingly it wasn't that hard to get the people I was photographing to be serious and get into an emotion, I figured it might be awkward and they wouldn't know what to do, but everyone did great and I couldn't be happier. The set up for the latest pictures remained in my garage like the others. The use of the light kit really helped with different light and exposures, I wouldn't have known what to do without it.

Taking photos of one of my best friends was a lot of fun. What I have noticed about the photo shoots is that whatever relationship I had with the person before taking the pictures seemed to grow a little bit more after taking the pictures. I find out a little bit more about my friends, things thats that they hold to themselves but let out to me as they were in the straightjacket. The relationship between me and the person being shot grew on a more intimate level, and not only did I learn more about them, but they too learned about me and the oppression being felt.

Shotting pictures of my family was a bit difficult and kind of an emotional process for me. Seeing them in the straightjacket made me sad because I would never wish for them to feel how I feel for being gay or for any reason. Again, it brought me closer to them. They have always known that I liked art and would probably do something with it, but they regretted to look at it for the meaning, especially with this project. Being in the jacket made things more real for them, it opened up their eyes and gave them a new perspective. FINALLY! I was being taken seriously. My friends too kind of had the same come-to moment after the shoot was over, saying "Casey I never knew you felt this way, you do such a good job at playing it off and not letting it show." I told this person that this was a main reason for my oppression, everyone has this image of me always being happy and not letting anything bother me, but the truth is that deep down it kills me. No one imagines that I can think like this so its a sense of relief when they can meet me on this level.

My brother did a great job, and there was not much direction needed for him. I took photos of him the day after the election, the day I found out that gays would be denied their right to marry and considered a second class citizen. He came over distraught but was ready to dive into it. He talked about how it was uncomfortable and how he just wanted to get out but couldn't. He made the connection that this is how someone gay can feel, wanting to break free but really not being able to. He brings up how religions promote the sanctity of marriage, and how neighboring families voted yes on the proposition, all whom push us gay people back into the corner. He always brings up the idea that its "NOT A CHOICE." Shooting my brother was something really special that made our understandings of each other stronger, he knows how I feel and I now know how much he cares.

My two cousins came down from Los Angeles so I could take some photos and I couldn't have been happier. It was nothing different, our relationship opened up and deepened more. I never imagined that I could grow closer to my family, but through this project I feel like they were really able to see me on the inside and not just the outside.

I have decided that I'm going to keep the guys in a black and white tone, since guys are a little more restricted with their emotions, and to keep the girls in kind of a sepia more color tone, since are able to more freely express their emotions.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thursday September 18

Today was a grand day, spent some time in the park and listened to the "laughing" ducks at the duck pond with my friend Whitney. Same set up as last shoot. High megapixel camera, light kit, and the set was in the garage. What was so great about shooting my friend Whitney, was that once she was put into the jacket, the oppression kicked in. She really got into the character and gave me amazing shots. She actually cried on her own, and with the heavy makeup, we got some dramatic runs of makeup down her face. I really liked it alot. OH! on the light kit, there is a dimmer which was really helpful, I could adjust the light to my liking. Here are some shots of my friend Whitney.

Tuesday September 16

Tonight was exciting. I took some photos of my friends Grace and Zane. For this shoot I decided to use some equipment from school now that it was available. I checked out a high megapixel camera as well as a light kit. The light kit couldn't compare to my makeshift one. The kit allowed for really awesome shadows. The shoots go like the previous ones, I set a backdrop up in the garage and have my friends hop to it. I decided that I like my white backdrop more than the black one so I feel I will leave it at that. Grace and Zane did a great job. I dont really give too much direction just because I want to see what kind of emotions they can come up with on their own, rather than me trying to tell them how to feel. My aim with the book is to get other people feeling what its like to be constricted or different. If I gave too much direction, it would kind of defeat the purpose. I let them do whatever they want, and I let Grace do her hair and makeup however she wanted. I asked her though to plan it accordingly to the idea of the shoot. My friends know what the book is about, so I dont have to tell them much about it for them to get into character. Heres a couple of pictures.

Monday, September 8, 2008

August 31, 2008

This time I shot my friend Jen. She came over with really great ideas about her appearance and I kind of let her go as she wished with that, and I'm glad that I did because it ended up looking amazing. We rigged up the set in my garage and this time brought in some lights to help us out.

I really like the white background, so we played around with that one alot. Here is one of the pictures that I really liked.

August 29, 2008

Today I was at work and all I was thinking about was how nice the sunlight was outside, and how I wanted to shoot against the white backdrop that I had. I rushed home from work, and immediately set up and had my mom begin to shoot me. What I enjoyed most about this set up was the direct light, and the white on white was really nice. When I edited the photos over exposing them looked really awesome. This is one of my favorites from August 29, the tear wasn't intended but I think however that it does add alot.