The ISM Project

An exploration in visual storytelling.





-ism: a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement.

Belief, doctrine, theory. How do you portray these intangibles through a photographic medium? How do you make someone feel or believe rather than simply see? A photographer’s ability to capture the essence of their subject – whether that be a person, an event, a thing, a moment, or an idea – is paramount. Images are powerful. They outlast the time and space in which they were created. But there is a difference between simply taking a photograph and telling a story.

Members of HackCville’s photography program, Exposure, recently participated in an exercise in photographic storytelling. Their task was to represent an -ism of their choosing through no less than three photographs. Instead of focusing on how to take a photo, emphasis was placed on why we take photos and on taking a photo that means more, or at least as much, as the moment it captures.

The following three photo essays represent three different -isms: absurdism, Americanism, and romanticism.


by Eric Owens


Seemingly from day one we are told

what to do,

how to do it,

and more importantly,

how to think

about things.

Absurdism-2 Absurdism


My inspiration and ideas underlying this photo series are founded in the very

structure and monotony


that has guided my life, and the lives of those around, thus far.


Sometimes life is a like holding a burning book,

trying to remain calm while the flames inch ever so close to you. 


Sometimes you just have to embrace the absurdity of lifeand smoke that hot-pocket.



by Maya Korb


I chose to photograph the flag because of the particular role the American flag plays. 

It is a precious symbol.

Slack for iOS Upload (2)

Americans are extremely vocal about the strength of their ideals and to this day work to exercise the rights established in the constitution.

Still, behind undeniable patriotism, prosperity and power there is also an irony in the nation’s struggle between ideology and interests.


I am happy I am an American, but am saddened by historic suppression of its systematic missteps.

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This project is more technical in capturing

the variations of the flags movement:

backwards at times,

debilitated and



Slack for iOS Upload (1)


by Charlotte Cooney

A hot pink neon sign on display at The Sheepdog Cafe reads “We Are All Students.”

The sign gives off this



magenta glow


to the area around it. I was intrigued to see how the light would look on a subject’s face.


I was pleased with how the lighting in the photos came out. They seemed to embody romanticism.

The light made their skin so

Charlotte_Ism3 Charlotte_Ism2




even the catchlights in their eyes were pale pink instead of white.


My favorite photo is the close-up of Tim, where you can see the details in his skin and in his eyes.

I like that everything in this photo seems to be just another

shade of pink

instead of

a spectrum

of colors. 

Curated by Sarah Dodge

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