Terry Vitacco Photography

January 14, 2013

Paint it Black Shoot – Personality Portraits on Location in the SSC at COD

Marlon © Terry Vitacco Photography 2013

One of my favorite class projects is the Paint it Black shoot.

My last Photo 1101 class did a great job bringing unusual props and working with our models to produce some creative and edgy personality portraits last semester. I was lucky enough to get a few minutes to photograph Marlon, (above)  who has beautiful eyes and a soulful expression.

The next Paint it Black shoot will be held on Tuesday, March 5th in the College of DuPage SSC Building near the windows. Look for an animated group of students dressed in black with cameras and unusual props. Students will be bringing some models, but are always open to people who walk up wanting to join in the fun.

Courier Features Editor Courtney Clark wrote a story about the shoot from Fall Semester, and she gave me permission to reprint it below.

Students Paint it Black

The Photo 1101, Intro to Digital Photography class, held their “Paint It Black” workshop in the SSC. This included black backdrops with models dressed in black posing for the cameras. This is an assignment the students in Photo 1101 do every semester.

Terry Vitacco, Photography Professor, said the assignment is about “wanting to get the most details out of highlights and shadows.” It is a challenge with the black background and subjects dressed in black. The name comes from the famous Rolling Stones’ song “Paint It Black.”

Photo 1101 is an introductory course in digital photography. The prerequisite is Photo 1100, but if students took a photography class in high school, they may be able to place out.  In this project, Vitacco said, “Not only do they have to get the right tones, but they also have to convert to black and white, print, and submit the assignment. They learn to meter properly with their cameras in Manual Mode and bring out tones in the photographs.”

Students mostly asked their friends to model but “as people saw us working they wanted to be a part of it,” said Vitacco. About ten students volunteered to model. In years past, this event was held in the MAC lobby but because of the construction, it was held in the SSC.

Vitacco says that this kind of activity means, “They have to learn to work with a group and catch things spontaneously. It’s a fun way to learn a technical skill in photography.” Her rule for Photoshop, which is used in the class, is that the changes “should make the image look better, but be subtle and seamless.” Another thing they do when critiquing the work is “look objectively at what they shot and analyze the improvements,” said Vitacco.

Kelly Ellam, Photography student, said “I liked that we did it where there were a lot of people. There aren’t that many people in the MAC due to construction.”

Vitacco really enjoys this project and said its “interesting to see how everyone interprets the same situation [because] everyone in the group has the same problems and opportunities. Everyone has their own style.”

Soon the final print from the photo-shoot will be put up in the MAC hallways for students to view. Vitacco says she “encourages collaboration [and] it was fun to have volunteer models participate because a lot of the photography students don’t want to be in the photos, they just want to take the photos.”

They are giving copies of all the pictures to each of the models as payment. Vitacco said she always tells students to put their names and copyrights in the corner so that even once pictures go on Facebook and other social networking sites, they can protect their copyright.

Vitacco encourages everyone to take photo classes. “If you’re interested in getting started, students can take Photo 1100. It’s a Contemporary Life Skills class that can be used for General Elective credits. Photograhy is a great thing to learn because it’ll help you in your life, even if you’re not a Photo Major.”


Story by Courtney Clark, Courier Features Editor

Photo by Kelly Ellam, Photo Student