Final Project- Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar a son of Emancipated African Americans and writer who lived from 1872 thru 1906. He wrote and published several books of poetry written in broken English as tribute to his parent’s roots of plantation life. For this final project in Advanced Photography I am creating visual content for a poem in Dunbar’s book, Joggin’ Erlong entitled Spring Fever. This book was published the year of his death.
While a complete collection of Dunbar’s poems is on the internet, my inspiration comes from the physical book. The cover is fitted with red fabric with a pattern that resembles ameba, reminiscent of bandanas worn by select groups as a fashion and symbol allegiance to their set. Within the book are light, and modest illustrations that border poems and embellish pages, along with photographs of black people.
Spring Fever is a poem about what it is like to wake up on a spring day on the plantation. Opening with the complaints of being woken up by the birds fighting and expressing the want for more rest. The result of lack of sleep is the urge to sleep in but work needs to be done and the “Mastah” is yelling. Yet still, they move slow. The result is violence.



The images I will be creating for this project will consist of both still life and models.

Shoot 1: As representation of the squabbling birds we will use two models on a grey background with a single light over head or from the side. They will interact a short distance from one another in a mock dominance display.

Shoot 2: Still life of spring flowers on a dark background lit from the side, high contrast dramatic.

Shoot 3: Self portrait consisting of flower elements. Dark Silhouette image, light through floral print fabric.

One thought on “Final Project- Paul Laurence Dunbar

  1. rmichals

    This is a challenging topic. I read the poem and it feels very far from today’s world.

    1. Two people squabbling could work. I imagine each lit from above with a spot. You might also try some kind of birds for this. Bird dolls of course.

    2. Flowers are fun to shoot and you can certainly do it in the style of those 17th century Dutch paintings.Using this style is sort of a thing in photography. Here are two examples:
    Hector Rene Membreno-Canales

    Henry Hargreaves

    3. I encourage you to experiment with a silhouette through a cloth. Just get several people to model for you.

    Lastly, You might try to work with the book itself. it is a beautiful object. Take a look at these photos of books by Kenneth Josephson.


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