Visual Storytelling



While some members of teams slept, other members continued to code during the MHacks Hackathon 2013 in the Big House on September 22, 2013 in Ann Arbor, MI.

Photo: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

Explanation for Choice: You’re asked to capture the essence of a story in anything you produce — text, photographs, video, and audio — and this was one of those moments. I spent somewhere near 15 hours covering a 36 hour hackathon in which students from other schools lived in their own filth and raced to meet a deadline for their hacks. This captures the hacking, the filth, the exhaustion, and a level of grandness — in addition to emotion on the girls face. At the end of the day you can compose nicely, but sticking around with the subject and finding moments that express emotion in addition to composition are what stand out.


Explanation for Choice: I wish the composition was a little different for this image, but it’s a soft and intimate moment that came from a level of trust. Erin, a 28 year old mother of a 2 year old, was trying to find comfort in her body and self again after pregnancy. Her breasts and her stomach were something she felt uncomfortable about which is shown in part by her hand covering one of her breasts. She wanted to do this shoot with me, however, in some sense to regain her comfort and confidence. I chose this image because it shows a level of trust that is involved with any deeper story. To pose clothesless and to show her vulnerable side was a moment of humanity that I’ll forever resonate with. For, we are brought together by our frailty. We work together to tell stories.


3 Responses to “Visual Storytelling”

  1. Both of these images are beautiful, Joseph. I am taking my first computer programming class, and while I have not done anything on par with what those students are doing, I do have some sense of how terrible it can be to work with computer programs but at the same time so stimulating, like a great puzzle you know you can solve. As for the second photo, I am still blown away by it. I hope this helped her gain back confidence in her own body.

  2. I think that it was a good decision for you to choose works that are in such opposition in regards to both content and style. Your hackathon photograph if filled with information–the multiple characters in it, the endless color, and the feel of the location all contribute to a strong sense of place and emotion. In fact, you could even pic apart every piece of clutter in the picture (making the analysis of the moment almost endless). Your other image, on the other hand, is very simple and based in human connection. You make use of one person’s bare body in front of a simple background, and all of our attention is focused on her body language. It’s very simple yet very powerful. Good work! I think by choosing such opposing pieces, you send out a strong message on the diversity of objectives that visual storytelling can have to reach meaningful outcomes.

  3. I see why you do this professionally. You must have quite a portfolio.

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