Archive - Noah Seng DeLong

Reflecting On My Work (archived)

Welcome to my blog, which was archived in November of 2018! If you'd like to see an updated blog-style collection of my work, please visit my Instagram or Facebook on the Social page! Thanks for visiting. 

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This section is comprised of my professional (and sometimes personal) reflections on the work I am doing. As a young man who understands that he cannot understand everything, I find it valuable to record my thoughts, techniques, and current focuses in order to track my growth and show others, along with myself, that I am committed to the everlasting process of living, learning, and becoming who I am not already (Fr. Peter reference! Go cats!).

Broadly speaking, I will reflect on the process of each of my shoots and then some--my favorite or notable editing techniques, my ideas, my inspirations, and my motivations. I will also never forget to thank those I am privileged enough to shoot with. I am forever grateful for anyone who makes me their partner in the creative process. 

11/23/2018 Public Service with a Smile \\//

Recently, I had the privilege of shooting the headshots for the entire Student Government Association of Villanova (that’s 70+ people to shoot with!!). Over the course of two weeks I got to meet each member, 1-on-1, and get a small taste of who they are, what they’re about, and what they do in the SGA. Being the extrovert that I am, I found the experience thrilling and, also, super educational—there is so much we can learn from one another. Specifically, hearing about the varied passions and work of my colleagues during the headshots put me in an intensely reflective mood, which I used as a springboard for this post! Read on!

Overall, I am astonished by my peers at Villanova. Everyone (I’ve met) is incredible—they have goals and ideas and qualities that keep me in a state of perpetual awe and humility. Beyond being fundamentally good people, they’re all beautiful! They look great, sure, but it definitely doesn’t stop there. They offer the time they have outside of classes (which, from personal experience, are super tough) to pursuits of social justice, charity, and volunteerism. I’ve heard many people say, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, find a new room,” and my time at Villanova has shown me that such a saying can be applied to any trait. Virtuosity, intellect, passion, and dedication are just a few of the many traits which I am driven to improve within myself because of my fellow Villanovans and their wonderful ways of life.

The students I pass each day walking to class, see through my camera lens, or share a meal with are who make life as a Villanovan so special to me, and I wouldn’t rather be surrounded or motivated by any other group of people. Thank you, members of the SGA , for bringing this perspective to my lens, and thank you, fellow Villanovans, for inspiring me to become who I am not yet.

11/8/2018 SpO Much Love

I have always wanted to make some sort of a difference, as I feel many of us do. No matter what it is, I want my work to have a positive impact on someone else. This past weekend, which was exhausting and beautiful and chaotic, I found myself trying to make a difference in every way I could, only to find that the difference was being made within me.

Special Olympics is one of the most incredible organizations in the world. It makes a global impact on the intellectually disabled and is a force for change in the realm of acceptance and inclusion. Having grown up very close to SpO, with some members of my immediate family participating as athletes and others as coaches or leaders, I have always felt personally moved by the scale and beauty of the selflessness of those who volunteer during SpO events. I even wear my SpO bracelet, which says “Play Unified. Live Unified” 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year. In the vocabulary of a Villanovan, I am a total “SpO Nationer”, and I am so proud of that fact. It makes sense, then, that when Fall Fest 2018 came around, which is the PA State SpO competition that takes place on Villanova’s campus and is entirely student-run, I went into “full send” mode and took pictures for ~16 total hours over the course of 2.5 days. Craziest thing is, the pictures weren’t even the best part.

I got to interact with athletes at eight different venues while bearing witness to more joy, happiness, passion, and love than I can possibly describe in words or photographs. I made new friends, reconnected with athletes I had grown up around (SHOUTS TO LEHIGH COUNTY, YOU ALL ARE MY ROCK) and watched them play their hardest and have so much fun together. I don’t know much about the personal lives of each athlete I interacted with over the course of Fall Fest, but I am thrilled that I got the opportunity to accept them, to bring them into my community and my home here at Villanova, and capture their innate beauty, which is powerful and evocative in so many ways. From their joy, smiles, and hearts I have learned so much. This weekend was an incredible testament to the fact that, by accepting one another for who we each are, avoiding generalizations, and making an effort to promote inclusion on all fronts, we can all find more grace and happiness within our own lives.

Thank you SpO, and thank you to all of the incredible athletes I had the pleasure of meeting or seeing this weekend. You have such a special place in my heart. These pictures don’t even come close to truly capturing all of the beauty that you each possess, inside and out.

For the VU SpO Committee Instagram click Here

For the VU SpO Committee Flickr click Here

10/6/2018 Creating & Sharing, A Villanovan Perspective

Wow, it’s been too long since I’ve had the chance to update this page. I can assure you that, despite my absence, I have continued shooting and growing and learning so much since my time in the park (see the post below).

As late July dwindled, I felt a rush of activity come my way. The amount I had to do became a bit overwhelming as the summer time reached its twilight, which is exactly why you haven’t seen a post from me in a while. Especially since I began my second year at Villanova, life has been moving at what feels like light speed!

Since I don’t commute to Villanova, I’m sure you can imagine that I do most of my shooting and photography work in and around campus while classes are in session. This is absolutely the case and, honestly, I wouldn’t rather it any other way. Villanova is a beautiful place to live, learn, and do what one loves. I am surrounded by just as many beautiful sights as beautiful people—it is an awesome place to create art. In fact, the art that really resonates with me is a healthy mixture of those two things. For that reason, I’ve attached some photos from my first eight weeks here on campus.

Imagine a life where you live just minutes from your best friends, the places that you learn and grow, and sights that possess this staggering beauty. Beauty that puts you on your seat and makes you wonder what made you so lucky? That’s my life here, and I promise I’m not trying to brag. It’s a humbling life, and I hope you can see that in these photos because they resonate with me so strongly.

As an events coordinator for the photography club, I am proud to say that this vision and understanding of my school is something I get to put into practice all the time. I brainstorm and schedule events that are designed to create a community around something I fervently enjoy, and I love seeing other people connect with the ideas that I’ve explained in this post through photography. That’s what it’s really all about for me, sharing, and I hope that makes sense in the context of this blog of sorts. It’s simply meant to give you a feel for where and who I am as an artist, and help you connect with the art I passionately create. With that, I’ll let you enjoy the photos of my beautiful home. Best!

-NSD

7/22/2018 People in the Park

There is a song I love by Ben Rector called, "The Men That Drive Me Places." If you listen to it, the song fills four minutes and 17 seconds of your time with a beautifully intimate and resonant musical composition. More important than the composition itself, however, is the message that Ben has injected into the marrow of song. As he humbly describes the lives of his various chauffeurs--each a unique and beautifully relatable figure--it becomes perfectly clear that the draw of the song is not Ben's musical or lyrical dexterity, but the beauty of the humanity that Ben manages to find in each of these men. 

I chose to seek out this beauty one evening recently, not in the men that drive me places, but in the random people I saw at the park. I certainly didn't have great expectations for this 'experiment', but I was surprised to find that the beauty Ben highlights in his song was in excess at the park that evening. Two women sharing a towel and rehearsing a song for their coming church performance, an elderly gentleman (who happens to be my grandfather) hopping stones and describing the park as it was 50 years ago, and a small pug just enjoying the sunlight. Honestly, the rush of having captured these people and their every-day, taken-for-granted humanity was simply inspiring. 

6/9/2018 The Murph Day Warriors

As I begin to upload the collection of images I have assembled from my shoot with the SYR Crossfit gym, located in Fogelsville, PA, I am inclined to provide proper context for what I captured during the 4.5-hour-long fundraiser. Murph Day is a fundraiser held by SYR in support of the Semper Fi fund, which supports local military veterans and their families. After signing up, the participants are asked to donate to the fund and begin preparing for the day’s WOD. The WOD (workout of the day) began with a 1-mile run. Subsequently, the participants were tasked with doing 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 air-squats before finishing with another 1-mile run.

From the perspective of a photographer, this workout seemed exhausting. I was genuinely impressed by the strength and persistence of these men and women. The Murph Day WOD demanded far more than just physical strength and endurance—without the mental grit that these participants possessed, I doubt they would have been able to complete the challenge.

Trying to capture this experience, the choice of struggling physically to honor those who have sacrificed unspeakable amounts for the USA, was a challenging task for me. I tried to capture the grit of the Murph participants (who were absolute warriors against the strain of the WOD)—the exhaustion, strength, humanity, and context of what they were doing—in order to make Murph more accessible to anyone who could not be there that day. Of the many ways we honor our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day weekend, I certainly think that Murph Day is one of the most notable illustrations of human character, persistence, and integrity. Congratulations to all who participated, and thank you to all of our service men and women.

-NSD

6/5/2018 Looking Out

What a busy time the summer is! After launching this awesome new website (yesterday), I can finally begin to publish content and begin this journey. With that, I’d like to begin by bringing my favorite quote into dialogue with the projects I am currently working on. In an article on VSCO that spotlights Simone Enei’s work, Enei quotes Hamish Fulton, a British Walking Artist, who once said “an object cannot compete with an experience.” This statement, while it is one of many phenomenal quotes, is one that I believe speaks to my philosophy with respect to photography. Images are simply objects if they do not convey an experience—think of a rich tone, a unique pose, a captivating frame, or a gleeful expression—that speaks towards the human condition. As it is with most art forms, the goal of photography is to convey something, and the communication of an experience in my images is the standard by which I reconcile my work. The truth is, I love communicating with others, and the ability to do so through a visual medium is a gift and skill I have sought to refine since my grandfather first put a camera in my hands.

Now what I’ve said is all good and dandy, but you might ask where one might find this idea in my current portfolio. For brevity’s sake, in the student section of my portfolio, under “Portraits”, DSC07655-9 is one of my favorite images out of the many on my site. Pictured here is a girl, sitting on the edge of (what I will tell you was) a very tall building, looking down and notching her foot in the ledge that holds here up. I didn’t allow her to become clearly focused in this shot, leaving the edges around her slightly unclear. Her background, however, is sharp and characterized by this vibrant blue-purple hue. To me, this image represents the experience of my first year at Villanova. I am still figuring out who I am, what my likes and dislikes are, where I’d like to be, and how far I’ve come from the bottom of that very tall building. What mattered most to me throughout this past year was the intrigue of my new home: those sharp edges and beautiful colors seem to convey a promise of opportunity and growth that inspired me to push through the trials and tribulations of my freshman experience. I made it, and I am so excited for my journey on this website, which parallels my journey at Villanova, to reveal where and when my next rooftop moment will be.

-NSD

5/20/2018 First Holy Communion Portraits

This past Sunday I had the opportunity and pleasure of shooting for a family member who was celebrating his First Holy Communion! Despite a vaguely unsettling weather forecast, we were gifted with an amazing day full of sunshine.

The shoot took place at the Rose Garden in Allentown (one of my fav venues) and, while the rose bushes won't bloom for awhile, we easily made use of the surrounding natural and man-made scenery. After about 30 minutes of walking around and working different angles, I was mostly satisfied with what I had on my memory card! Because this was the first shoot of my summer back home, I was absolutely thrilled to begin editing and finalizing my favorite shots. My favorite shots from this experience are included in the "Portraits" section of my portfolio, where you can also see all of my favorite portraiture. 

Thank you so much to my family members who were willing to let me shoot for them. It was so much fun, and turned out great!!

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Now for some post-process notes:

As I edited this shoot, I realized I was using the corrections wand in Adobe Lightroom A LOT. For any photographers out there who are interested in learning more about post work, the corrections wand is an incredibly useful tool that allows you to selectively add many enhancing effects to your images. Whether you would like to brighten some shadows, whiten teeth, enhance irises, or locally sharpen your image, the "magic wand" can help. I have no doubt that this tool will help me improve my final edits as I continue this journey! 

Thanks so much for reading. Much love everyone.

-Noah

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