Production Journal

I wanted my photo essay to speak for itself and help its viewers realize the importance of biodiversity. Specifically looking at zoos’ in general, humans need to become aware of the prisons these animals are placed in everyday. Yes, there are pros and cons to every situation but in this case I think there are more cons that our society does not think about. We use zoos’ for entertainment and education but disregard the circumstances some of these animals are placed in. I wanted my pictures to depict the emotion these animals feel when being stared at by hundreds everyday. Professor Williams helped me work out the types of pictures I should capture in our meeting. She suggested capturing the same two types of images but for an array of species. One image would be of the visitors observing the animals and the second a closeup of the animals behind its fence or glass. Although we met after I already visited the zoo, it was decided I would have to go back and try to take some higher quality photos therefore I included this in my pre-production section.

There was a variety of research that helped my narrow down my topic. After reviewing IZILWANE’s website, one particular quote from their brochure stuck with me. “We believe that as human beings become aware that we are merely one of many species and not separate from local and global ecosystems, we will choose to live in ways that value all species.” One of my main goals when starting this project was to bring awareness to humans on the lifestyle we are living. Currently, humans do not live in ways that value all species, we over consume and overproduce constantly hurting our environment. Our society is ruining natural habitats by the minute which is causing extinction to occur at its fastest rate in 100,000 years (The Loss of Biodiversity). At these current rates, over half of the species will be gone by the end of this century alone (The Loss of Biodiversity). I think if people stop and consider this fact, one of those so called “eye-opening” moments will occur. The organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals otherwise known as PETA, also influenced the ambience I wanted to evoke in my photos. I know they are only represent one side on the controversy of zoos’ but they have a great article voicing some of the major anti-zoo reasoning. The article states “ The zoo community regards the animals it keeps as commodities, and animals are regularly bought, sold, borrowed, and traded without any regard for established relationships” (Animal Rights Uncompromised) The disrespect animals receive is heartbreaking considering they are a species just as humans are. PETA also mentions that zoos’ breed animals for the sole fact that the babies will boost revenue when born yet their future is usually unfavorable once they outgrow their “cuteness” stage (Animal Rights Uncompromised). It is sad to think the animals have to be young and unfamiliar to the public to be more popular. As these animals grow and develop, there comes a vast amount of physical and mental frustrations. The article refers to the captivity leading to “abnormal, neurotic, and even self-destructive behavior, such as incessant pacing, swaying, head bobbing, bar-biting, and self-mutilation” (Animals Rights Uncompromised). With all the compiled research I found I was convinced there was more harm in zoo’s than good. As a result my goal was to shape people’s views and heighten their awareness of the effect zoos’ are having on biodiversity.

The only main difficulty I faced before production was finding a time to visit The National Zoo. As my soccer season came to an end there were many hours put in on and off the field that were of course mandatory. This really affected finding enough time to make a visit and being able to spend a decent amount of time once I was there. Also with classes spread out everyday finding a large enough window of time was challenging. I also did not have a camera to use other than my phone but managed to find one from a teammate which worked to my advantage.

I made two different visits to the zoo because the first one did not really go as planned. I brought my shot list and thought I knew what I wanted to capture. Turns out I didn’t. I tried taking different angles evoking certain emotions but my execution was poor. It also was a very hot day, so the weather did not help my judgement and patience. The second time I visited, it was cooler out and I knew exactly what I wanted to capture. This helped a tremendous amount. Each visit I was there for a few hours, mainly so long because the exhibits are very spread out. The first time was a little longer because I was flustered and unclear of what I really wanted. The second time I got a map and knew exactly where I wanted to go. I think my execution was more valuable the second visit because I was determined to get the right shots. I used a Sony Cyber-shot to take the shots and iPhoto to upload and edit the images. I didn’t have many problems with editing, it was mainly was used to crop the images and make them sharper. I played around with the contrast, exposure, and saturation to make them as appealing as possible.

My biggest disappointment was thinking I knew what I wanted to capture and getting to the zoo and being puzzled. On the other hand I think my biggest success was realizing what I needed to capture and going a second time and executing it well. I definitely learned that I should have put a little more thought into the types of images I wanted to take beforehand. Even though I still was able to capture the correct images, it would have saved me a trip knowing what I really wanted the first visit. The final result is a bit different from my original idea in terms of variety of photos. I didn’t think I would be taking the same types of images but of different species. I thought it was going to be a wide variety of species and types of shots but I like the way I executed the photo essay better in the end. To improve my work I think I maybe would try harder to visit the zoo at either sunrise or sunset so the lighting makes the photos more powerful. A better camera would have helped in this case as well. I think working for a cause is a great way to inspire students to become more involved and motivated to put the effort in. IZILWANE is a great organization and really opened my eyes in regards to biodiversity. I am definitely inspired to become more involved in helping biodiversity from decreasing and to educate friends and family of the serious problem it is. Overall, I think I conveyed what I wanted to from the beginning. Just as life is there were bumps in the road but in the end I made it all come together and hopefully made an impact on its viewers.



“Animal Rights Uncompromised.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <>.

Horton, Jennifer. “Are Zoos Good Or Bad For Animals?” Animal Planet. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <>.

“Outreach Materials.” IZILWANE, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <>.

“The Loss of Biodiversity.” Biology Biozine. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <>.


Immensely Inferior







Technical Information:

Sony Cyber-shot, 14.1 megapixel


Image #1: 2717 × 3273

Image #2: 3667 × 2280

Image #3: 3389 × 2839

Image #4: 3321 × 2380

Image #5: 2434 × 3520

Image #6: 4295 × 2771

Image #7: 3383 × 2587

Image #8: 3323 × 2112

The Story Behind The Cage

There are two sides to every story. There are pros and cons to every situation. Examining each side and each detail can help better understand the problem at hand. Biodiversity is an ongoing obstacle that many species are affected by. Humans are fighting for land to develop agriculture and animals are fighting for their natural habitat. It seems as if humans have won when referring to the idea of zoos’. As the animals are caged into small environments replicating their natural habitat, humans come to observe and take pictures fascinated at what they are looking at. On the other hand, the animals living in the zoo are sometimes threatened or abandoned species that are saved by given a place to call home. There are many pros and cons to the idea of a zoo and that is what this photo essay illustrates.

Each image depicts either the emotion the animal feels behind its cage or the way the humans look at the species from a far. Selecting a wide array of animals from cats to birds really sets the tone for the story. Although these animals are widely different in regards to habitat, and ways of life they share the same feeling trapped behind the glass or fence. The animals may be wondering why they are stuck in this unnecessary prison while hundreds stare at them all day long. Flash after flash their picture is stored on another phone or camera. Their natural behavior is restricted because their space is limited and they have been taken from their natural habitat. They have no where to run, some no one to play with, they are isolated and unloved. The humans looking back at them are intrigued and fascinated by the assortment of species they can look at all in one park. Many come for an educational experience learning all sorts of different facts about the animals they are looking at. Others come to walk or jog all the different paths to get their daily exercise while being entertained at the same time. A zoo is a place children can come to learn and familiarize themselves with all the varying types of animals. It is a place where they can feel in control verse these animals triple their size. They are able to scream and point without getting in trouble and the innocent animals can’t do anything about it. It is also a place where researchers can study animals who are in need of treatment or endangered. These animals are rescued and give their species a chance to survive extinction.

Again there are two sides to every story, weighing the pros and cons of a zoo is complex. Everyone has their own opinion but their true viewpoint on this controversial topic can be found in which image evokes more emotion for the individual. Is it the guiltless animal or the excited crowd that stays in your head? Most humans would agree the innocence would linger with them yet take no action to execute a change. When do we stop destroying land and endangering species all over the world? At some point an understanding needs to transpire that us humans are just another species and should be treated in comparison with these animals. The ecosystem is everyone’s and our daily ways need to undergo a change to accommodate everyone.

“Immensely Inferior”- Final Project Proposal

Shaena Alfonsi

“Immensely Inferior”

A Photo Essay






The format is going to be a photo essay depicting the relationship between humans and animals at the zoo. It will consist of seven photographic prints in a photojournalism style.  As of now the prints are planning to be in color but if I can make a big enough impact in my photos I may turn to black and white for a more dramatic effect.




The theme of my final project deals with how humans view other species. My client is going to be the animals and visitors at The National Zoo in Northwest, DC. I came about this simply by just thinking about biodiversity and how these large animals should be superior to us humans but they aren’t. If you think of a child looking up at all of these animals in the zoo, these elephants and lions could easily eat them. However, these massive animals are inferior to humans because they are stuck behind bars or fences.




I hope to open people’s eyes about the importance of biodiversity and that animals are just as important as humans. Everyday animals habitats are being cut down and ruined, what if that happened to us humans? Humans take a lot of things for granted, and I think a realization needs to happen regarding to treatment of animals. This especially comes into play in a zoo where animals are trapped in these small habitats. Humans walk around seeing dozens of different types of animals that live in all sorts of different climates all in stuffed into one park.








My final project shoot schedule will begin this upcoming weekend with a visit to The National Zoo. I hope to have all of my shots before I leave but depending on weather, and the type of shots I gather I may have to go back one more time. In order to capture a variety of photos I am going to bring a list of the different types of shots. This pre production step will help me while I am at the zoo stay focused and capture an assortment of shots. Within the next two weeks I hope to have my final seven shots chosen and my story background completed. My production journal will be completed throughout the project, therefore I can remember specific details that occurred during the creation of my photo essay.




One specific fact that I found while researching really helped influence my theme of these animals having no home and feeling inferior to all the humans looking at them everyday. “Each time an acre of land is lost, species that once lived there may be lost as well. Rain forests, for example, are areas with high biodiversity, and wide swaths are being destroyed by humans.” The loss of biodiversity is increasing and the public needs to become aware of its outcomes.




I really hope that the public eye views my work and comes to a realization that these animals need to be saved. Not only the animals in the zoo, but their habitats all around the world that are destroyed every day. This could help save species from going extinct and keep biodiversity from decreasing.



“The Loss of Biodiversity.” Biology Biozine. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2013. <>.

The Girl

IMG_1979 Storyboard

The Girl


[Opening scene]


Mark and Jared are walking up the stairs from TDR. Throughout the conversation, they walk towards a table in MGC to sit down. They are wearing normal, everyday clothes and backpacks. There is a calculator slightly hanging out of Jared’s backpack.


Jared: So are you excited for your date tonight?

Mark: Yeah, I really like this girl.

Jared: What are you guys gonna do?
Mark: I’m not sure yet, probably just watch a movie.

Jared: Cool cool.

Mark: What’re you up to tonight?

Jared: Nothing really, I have a lot of work to do before my date tomorrow night.

Mark: Oh right! Are you excited for that?

Jared: Yeah, we’ve gone out a few times already. She’s pretty awesome; should be a good time.

Mark: That’s sick, man. Well I’ve gotta go meet up with this girl, so I’ll see you tomorrow.

Jared: Okay, see ya.


Jared sits down at the table and pulls out his calculator. Mark walks away.


[Fade out]

[Fade in]


The scene opens on Mark and Melissa sitting on a couch in the Sky Lounge watching a movie. Mark’s arm is around Melissa’s shoulder and they are quiet.


Mark: Hey, I like your hair.

Melissa: Thanks!


After a few moments, Jared walks into the Sky lounge. He doesn’t notice them at first. When he does see the couple, he drops his backpack and the calculator falls out.


Jared [angry]: Melissa?! This is the girl you were talking about?


Melissa pulls away from Mark, surprised and embarrassed. Mark looks back and forth between Melissa and Jared confused.


Mark: Yeah! You know Melissa?

Jared: Of course I know her; we’re dating!

Mark: No, we’re dating.


Mark gets up from the couch angrily.


Jared: Back off of my girl, Mark.

Mark: She’s mine. You better back off.

Jared: I think we should take this out to the hallway.


Mark storms out into the hallway. Jared stops to pick up his backpack and calculator and then follows. Melissa follows quietly, slightly amused.


Jared: I can’t believe that’s the girl you’re on a date with, I told you how much I liked her.

Mark: You never told me her name, how was I supposed to know it was the same girl?

Jared: We’ve been dating for longer.

Mark: So?

Jared: So back off.

Mark [sarcastic]: Yeah, okay.

She obviously likes me better.

Melissa: Guys, settle down, seriously.


Jared pulls his calculator out of his back pocket and throws it at Mark. Mark falls back for a moment, but recovers and punches Jared in the face. They continue to chase each other and fight in the middle of the hallway until Jared knocks out Mark. Jared then smiles, puts his arm around Melissa, and they leave through the elevator.



This Means War

“This Means War” is an action packed movie accompanied by a little romance. Two best friends who work together as CIA agents end up dating the same girl. They are forced off a case because someone is after them which in turn ends up leaving them with no work to do. They both come across this girl in different scenarios and end up realizing they have been telling each other their dating stories about the same girl. Its a fight between the two to win over the girl but at the same time a test to their friendship to overcome the villain that is plotting against them. I chose a scene near the end of the movie where the two men come together to take down their rival. The scene involves a high speed car chase on one of the busiest highways in Los Angeles, until they end up crossing over onto an unfinished road with no where else to go. Their enemy has stolen their girl so their job is to get her back safely and take him down. The scene is full of intense moments involving the car chase, the rescue, and the opportunity to kill their enemy.

There were all types of different shots in this scene which created the rousing action full of emotion. The scene was full of wide shots of the highway, closeups of the characters faces, medium shots while driving, and point of view shots showing the thrilling view of the unfinished road. The shots were full of movement which depicted the intense car chase and also emotion which showed the frightened yet determined looks on the characters faces. Mise-en-scene was used throughout the scene, particularly in the setting, positioning, and lighting. In the “Introducing Mise-En-Scene” pdf it states the setting is used to create an atmosphere and build a narrative. The scene I chose really represents this statement, the setting creates a powerful and thrilling atmosphere which helps build the story. The positioning of the characters especially in the last part of this scene shows the emotional distance between one of the main characters and the girl and the closeness between her and the other man. The positioning also portrays the emotion the characters are feeling with the closeup shots, which makes the viewers feel as if they are in the scene. The lighting is used carefully to catch the viewers eye on what and who to focus on. It does a great job of highlighting the characters faces when it needs to evoke the emotion they are experiencing.

The techniques used in the film represent the genre of action well. Action films generally have a women who are in the interests of the hero which is true in this film as well (Action Films). They also include continuous high energy, physical stunts, and/or chase scenes with the hero facing life threatening circumstances (Action Films). The techniques definitely depict the description of action correctly and skillfully. The car chase seems real and thrilling as it would in real life. The heros’ trying to win over the girl both have their lives on the line throughout the scene representing the genre perfectly.

I really like the scene I chose and think it portrayed the genre action effectively. There was one point in the scene where a gas tank was being thrown at the car as they were driving and it looked a bit fake. I think that is the one thing I would change, however all other aspects of the scene were filmed skillfully. The emotion came through even with all the action in the scene. It was intense and thrilling to the viewer, exactly how an action scene should be.


“Action Films.” Filmsite. AMC, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. <;.

Introducing Mise-en-Scene.pdf (blackboard)