Ross School - Senior Project 2006-07

Student: Josephine Friedrich

Mentor: Alexis Martino

Consultants: John Messinger, John Snow and Walter Ioss

Domain: Media


Title: Aesopica


Whether told by Disney in animated cartoons, or read in tales from the Brothers Grimm, the stories and narratives of our childhood, when retold and passed down, form a small chapter in the ancient tradition of storytelling. I explored this tradition by looking closely at AesopÕs fables. My goal was not to simply illustrate these stories, but to consider how people read and process visually. In these photographs, mounted in a style reminiscent of cinematic montage, the viewer is guided through the fables, but still left to peruse the images freely, to make new stories, and to carry on that ancient tradition.


Senior Project Image 1, Senior Project Image 2, Senior Project Image 3, Senior Project Image 4, Senior Project Image 5, Senior Project Image 6, Senior Project Image 7, Senior Project Image 8, Senior Project Image 9, Senior Project Image 10


For my senior project I created a body of photographic work illustrating selected AesopÕs fables. At the beginning of the six-month process of creating my senior project I was pretty sure that I wanted to do a photography project but I was unsure as to what I would concentrate on in my work. I thought about it during the summer but I was apprehensive to decide on a subject because I didnÕt want to be cemented into a project that I hated four months later. I then thought about incorporating writing with photography, by composing short stories or narratives and illustrating them with photos. I was intrigued by this idea because of the potential relationship between the words and images that I could explore. I came across a site for AesopÕs Fables and was inspired by the concise writing and oversimplified moral guidelines, which were open to be visually interpreted. I was also attracted to the spread of certain fables and the morals that stem from them through the English language. Although my ideas were being driven by another writer, I was projecting my own imagination into the fables, subjectively illustrating them and by doing so I wanted to somehow comment on storytelling and the way words are processed in onesÕ mind and turned into images.

So my goals emerged, to create a photography show that was visually interesting and successful on that level, but also one that addressed the thinking process of an artist, how he or she conceives a shoot and explore my process of effectively telling a story with my images. Through the process I also wanted to gain experience organizing and effectively running more complex shoots than I had previously done. And because I wanted to have mural prints in my show, two more goals were to learn how to use a two and a quarter camera, a camera that I had never worked with before, and learn how to mural print. Immediately after finalizing my idea I started to choose stories I wanted to use and conceptualize my shoots. I slowly became frustrated with my lack of ideas, and the limits of my project. At this point I spoke with Dr. Sacks and he helped me along in seeing the fables in a different way. Then a meeting with my outside consultant, John Messinger, and my mentor, helped me along in the brainstorming process, by walking me through the conception of one shoot I was able to identify how to tell the story cohesively with my images. I started to shoot and meanwhile I brainstormed new shoots every week, most of them I didnÕt use. I shot through November into the beginning of December. I started making work prints, prints to seen whether images are successful when enlarged, before I actually finished all the shoots.  After editing I started printing process, which wasnÕt as hard as I thought it was going to be. After I returned from December break I had one full day to do mural printing, which I was happy to be finished with

My biggest challenges were coming up with interesting shoots that I liked, but that also portrayed the fables correctly. There were also a few periods where I hated my project and wanted to stop all together. By writing in my process folio, reading more fables and discussing ideas with my Alexis, my fellow photo students and other people, I was able to assemble shoots that I was happy with. Having my first shoot be a failure was a real setback. Meetings also helped with this issue and I learned to listen to people more experienced then me and it really helped me because I regained a lot of confidence when the re shoot was a success. Then learning the new techniques was also a major challenge, but one that I was excited to take on. With the both the new camera and new printing process I had to practice to become competent.

In the future I would like to continue to explore the relationship of words and images, and continue this type of body of work. At times I regretted not writing my own stories, but I think that I needed this project as a foundation for finding my style and also learning how to weave a narrative through my images and I hope that I can do that project in the future.

Works Consulted

®sop. Fables, retold by Joseph Jacobs. Vol. XVII, Part 1. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14. 2001. Viewed 2 Oct. 2006. <>.

Bowles, Hamish. ÒAlice in Wonderland.Ó Vogue. Dec. 2003, Unknown.

Campell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Bolingen; New York, 1945.

Green, Adam. ÒThe Wizard of Oz.Ó Vogue. Dec. 2005, Unknown.

Pascoe, David. ÒPeter Greenaway: Museums and Moving Images.Ó Reaktion Books; 1997.

Community Member (Details)

John Messinger was my community member and very helpful through out my process. He was especially valuable during the brainstorming and critiquing processes. During  brainstorming I had some problems finding inspiration and ways to read into the stories and he help me find new ways to look at them. Also during the critiquing process he was truthful in telling me what worked and what didnÕt, allowing me to display my best work. He critiqued my work multiple times. The first time a combined critique led me to redo one of my shoots then the other critiques helped me refine my final product.