Thankful

I am beyond thankful for this girl. She has been by my side through my darkest days. From lying in bed all day, crying and shaking, having a panic attack, to sitting in the hospital, watching my mother undergo numerous breast cancer surgeries. She has been by my side for the past 6 years, and held me above water when I couldn’t do it myself.



I came up with the idea to capture her with the lights in a dark room to showcase the “light at the end of the tunnel”. There is always going to be dark days, weeks, or even months, but you ultimately chose how to respond to those dark times you face. There is always a light in every dark situation. As for the more serious, dark photos taken outside, I came up with that idea to show those dark days. As you can see, she’s not smiling and is very serious. She looks as if she’s mad, or disappointed even. Her mind is filled with negative thoughts and emotions. She’s having a bad week because her car was totaled two days ago. Should she chose to stay happy or sad, that’s up to her. As Abraham Lincoln once stated, “A man is about as happy as he chooses to be”. The last photo taken of her smiling portrays how one can turn their day around, based on their thoughts, emotions, and the way they react to situations. You can either chose to be happy, or you can chose to be sad. No matter what one goes through, whether that be divorce, death of a loved one, or even depression, their happiness is based on how much they want it.


I used a Canon T6 to take the outdoor photos at ISO 100 and F/5.6. I imported them to Adobe Photoshop. From there I played with the brightness, contrast, saturation, and color. Once I achieved the outdoor shots to look how I imagined in my head I added a bit of grain to the photos. I wanted them to look almost like they were taken off of an old film camera you’d find in your local antique shop. As for the photo with the lights, I shot that at ISO 6400 F/5.0, because it was taken in very low light. I imported this photo to Adobe Photoshop as well. I turned up the brightness quiet a bit, upped the saturation a tiny bit, and played with the colors in the photo for a while in order to enhance the different colors in the lights. Once I got to a point where I liked the way the lights looked, I turned the brightness down just a little bit in order to give the whole photo a darker look. I sharpened this photo a bit to make it a little more clear. And then I upped the clarity a tiny bit, but not to much because I didn’t want to take a lot of color out of the photo.

People loved these photos. More importantly, she loved these photos. People don’t know the meaning behind these photos, because creating your own happiness tends to be a controversial subject. Some believe they are born to never be happy, they are born to never be great or do great, but that simply is not true. You create your own life. You choose where you end up, and that’s the beauty of being alive. This project taught me an extreme amount. I never edited my photos until this project. Creating this project taught me the importance of editing my work in order to achieve a greater overall photo. From the lighting to the color, I learned so much from this project. My number one take away from creating this project is that editing is almost important, if not more, as taking the actual photo.

A man is about as happy as he chooses to be.

Katelyn Brown

18 year old photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia, specializing in staged portraiture.