Being Human: A photo essay about the core of our emotion

I chose the Begin Human project because of my inspiration from other projects that look at the most basic aspects of human emotion. I knew this project would be challenging because of working with others. In addition, there is no way to predict an individual’s response to stimuli. I focused on 4 videos to look at aspects of human emotion. I showed a video that would trigger disgust and gore, I showed a video that would make people laugh, I showed a scary video and lastly I paired subjects who did not know each other and tried to make them nervous through asking them to interact with each other like a couple might.


While I showed friends and family stimuli, I photographed them with the Nikon D90, a DSLR, I purchased 5 years ago. In high school, I considered myself an amateur photographer, and had the honor of working in a photography studio. I used such high power and professional equipment because emotion can be apparent in the slightest tweak of an eyebrow. As humans, we pick up on what others are feeling through body language, which can greatly change our interpretation of someone’s feelings.  I used the white background to not distract from what was happening on their faces.  In that experience I was able to learn proper ways to photograph people with a lighting kit and a backdrop, being able to illuminate the eyes and main features. Since my experience in the studio, I have always struggled to work photographing people because, much like emotions, humans are unpredictable.

I further discovered this through the project. Some of the videos I showed that were intended to be funny, people cringed at. Some videos that were intended to be gross and gory, made people giggle. Often when I tried to make people feel awkward and uncomfortable, people would giggle and smile. This was because everyone interprets emotions differently, thus the purpose of my project.

By Deanna Bertini


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