Make it Seem

This latest photo challenge, ‘make it seem…’, had me struggling from the get go which is why its taken me so long to post a response.  Like Kristina, I really enjoy these challenges. Not only can they push me in new directions, they often reveal something that is already present in my photographs. This challenge was no exception.

Who knew making photos that are taken one way, but appear another would be so difficult! Ok, I did..that’s why I’ve been procrastinating. The day that I finally had my scenes in line and I had made arrangements to go out and shoot with friends, Seattle delivered another one of her famous gray mornings. Not exactly the weather I was hoping for, yet it was most likely the weather I needed.

First up is “make a photograph of something that is supposed to be happy, and you should make it seem sad”. For this shot I was aiming more for melancholy, rather than sadness. To me the motorcycle and sidecar combination has always meant friendship and adventure. But what if you were out on an adventure and you weren’t speaking to your friend? What if you were traveling across the countryside in stoney silence after a nasty fight? That was the emotion I was trying to achieve with this image. Of course it would have been easier if the bears hadn’t been smiling. I am sure there is a PhotoShop trick I could utilize, but my skills aren’t there yet. I tried to compensate by editing the photo so the car was ‘moving’ from the light into the dark to signify danger ahead.

Stormy Friendship
Stormy Friendship

Next up was “make a photograph of something that is supposed to be sad, and make it seem beautiful.” Like Kristina, I immediately turned to the teddy bear for this one. In fact I have been chasing a shot of a skeleton holding a teddy bear for a few months now. I wanted to express an idea of even in death the teddy bear can offer comfort. Or more likely it’s the frequent reports of the terrible impact that recent violence and conflicts have had on children that is seeping into my work (and rightly so).

Friends Forever
Forever Freinds

Our third assignment was to “make a photograph of something that is normal and make it seem shocking’. The image I wanted to create was both an homage to Mikes famous photo of Vader wearing red boxing gloves (which is truly amazing printed large and framed) as well as a representation of my personal pet peeve about how Darth Vader, the evil Sith Lord, who’s personally responsible for the deaths of 60 people in six movies, has been refashioned into a doting father. So while the rest of the geek world is busy redefining the image of Darth Vader to suit their own personal story, I wanted to create a shocking photo of him to remind people who and what his character is…. a ruthless killer.

Red Handed Killer
Red Handed Killer

The last assignment was to make a photograph of something you want the world to know about and make it urgent. This was the hardest of the four photos for me. How do you make a photo urgent? Do you work in high contrast black and white? Do you use cross process? Is the urgency felt in the set-up? Is it through the use of vivid color? Maybe some combination of all of the above? I went for a simple recreation of what I see around me every day; people with a phone or some electronic device in their face. They’re not interacting with the people around them, nor with their surroundings; they’re each immersed in their own on-line world. I wanted to make a quick representation of how silly this looks to the casual observer. I’m not sure if the flattened color works in this image. I probably should have chosen to make the  color hyper-saturated.

Group Text
Group Text

One thing I did realize as I was preparing for this challenge, was how wonderful it is to work with the LEGO mini-figures to tell a story. They’re infinitely interchangeable, there’re so many options, there’re so many different ways to approach a problem; they truly are the perfect little muses.

I want to thank Kristina for putting forth this wonderful challenge. It was not easy, but it really made me think about the emotional response I want to elicit from my viewers. Its great to make people laugh, but sometimes, as an artist you want to connect with the viewer on a deeper and hopefully more meaningful level.

~ Shelly

How did I do? Do you think I created photos that seemed like something else? How would you have approached this challenge?

If you have participated in any of the challenges and posted your images online, please tag them with the hashtag #sipchallenge, This way we can all see how our fellow photographers have approached these challenges and learn from each other. 

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Andrea - mad_phoenixaliceinclevelandStacy PhillipsReiterliedLeila (Brickandmordor) Recent comment authors
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to begin – you are welcome! Well done! And great results…

And then I have a question about the first picture – why is there a child or a friend in the side-car on the bike? -Did you try to leave it out. I think that would have worked even better with your idea. just wondering.


Lovely post. I think each result is successful. Is that biker Instagramming on his iPad while riding? Sheesh! ;)

Maëlick (aka Reiterlied)

I really love the last one. It’s so representative of what everyday life has become. I first saw this coming during one of my first trips to North America. I was shocked to see people interacting so little with each other in public. I still have that strong memory of two girls, sitting in front of each other but both immersed in their own virtual world in their smartphones. I think it shocked me so much because there was a strong contrast with Europe: at that time smartphones and mobile Internet were not as common as they were in North… Read more »


I always find it interesting to hear the ideas behind other people’s photos, so this was a great post (as was Kristina’s!). I’ve just given the challenge a go myself, and it certainly is challenging! I really enjoyed doing it though, I might even have another go. I love all of your photos but the Darth Vader one is just fantastic. And I agree with you, let’s make him evil again!


“So while the rest of the geek world is busy redefining the image of Darth Vader to suit their own personal story, I wanted to create a shocking photo of him to remind people who and what his character is…. a ruthless killer.”

I feel like there is a story to this and I want to know about it.

Mad Phoenix
Mad Phoenix

Well done Shelly! Let me know if you do future challenges from that book. That book has been collecting dust since I bought it. I’m afraid of a challenge.