Incom ist die Kommunikations-Plattform der Hochschule Anhalt Fachbereich Design

In seiner Funktionalität auf die Lehre in gestalterischen Studiengängen zugeschnitten... Schnittstelle für die moderne Lehre

Incom ist die Kommunikations-Plattform der Hochschule Anhalt Fachbereich Design mehr erfahren

The Mental Issue (Elective: Photography)

The Mental Issue (Elective: Photography)

Impact of Smartphones

Smartphones and photography are synonymous, especially when we are talking about social media apps like Instagram. They have become an integral part of our everyday lives - with unexpected social consequences. How does this device influence our daily life?

I chose to focus on the rise of mental illnesses as a result of over-engaging in Instagram. The style of photography is editorial, with each photograph portraying a mental illness: depression, eating disorder, and anti-social behavior.

The objective of my project is to get you to take a moment and reflect the amount of time you are spending on Instagram instead of being present and enjoying quality time with people around you.


To start off, we were asked to explore and to think about the impact of smartphones in as many aspects as possible. We then created our own mind map of hierarchy to further expand on this. In my mind map, the strength of impact is reflected in the size of the headline font, for example, I believed the existence and development of smartphones today have made the biggest impact on technology with both positive and negative consequences, followed by the social impact.

Vanessa Song (Photography Elective) - Brainstorm.jpgVanessa Song (Photography Elective) - Brainstorm.jpg

Planning - Concept Deck

Editorial Photography Project [THE MENTAL ISSUE].pdf PDF Editorial Photography Project [THE MENTAL ISSUE].pdf

Execution Process

It was a process from planning the photoshoots, finding models, coordinating with the models to getting the props, setting up the photoshoots, shortlisting and editing the photos. Here, I will show the process as well as the challenges I came across.


A lot of time and brainstorming were put into planning the photoshoots as I had to come up with the concept and because my vision was to have 5 photoshoots with each focused on showcasing a mental illness from the overuse of Instagram. In the end, I settled with 4 instead of 5. It was a lot of work as I made the mistake of scheduling all the photoshoots over the span of two weeks, especially packing them in the weekend. The decision to not hire any help was so that I am able to have direct hands-on experience on all aspects of a photoshoot, so that I will be able to learn my strengths and weaknesses. This was what made this project incredibly challenging, but an extremely valuable learning experience. It gave me a deep insight into knowing what to look for if I engage in any future photography project.

I didn't have any prior experience with photography that is done under professional setting and hardly any with a DSLR camera. Therefore, I had to do a lot of self-learning and preparation before the actual photoshoots. This involved the regular visits to Uwe Jacobshagen for advice apart from renting the equipments, YouTube tutorials, and practice. I learned the way to go about photoshoots is to always start earlier to test out the lighting, especially with natural light outside studio setting, to make sure I am achieving the look I want. I did rent a reflector, but didn't end up using it, main reason being that I didn't have an assistant, which is another lesson I learned for future projects. With that, I made what I had work.

As with posing and expressions, I wanted to evoke a sense of numbness and emptiness inside us, therefore I had focused on the eyes of the models in expressing this. The approach is subtlety as it should feel natural and relatable. Below are a few from each of the 4 photoshoots before edit.

Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.57.31 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.57.31 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.57.39 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.57.39 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.57.58 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.57.58 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.58.06 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.58.06 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.58.23 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.58.23 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.58.38 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.58.38 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.59.09 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.59.09 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.59.27 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.59.27 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.59.33 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 3.59.33 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.00.30 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.00.30 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.00.37 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.00.37 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.00.45 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.00.45 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.00.54 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.00.54 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.01.10 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.01.10 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.01.20 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.01.20 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.01.29 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.01.29 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.01.37 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.01.37 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.02.07 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.02.07 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.02.20 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.02.20 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.02.27 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.02.27 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.03.04 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.03.04 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.03.26 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.03.26 PM.png

Photo Editing

I used Lightroom Classic for the majority of editing while I used Photoshop to remove anything in the background that could be distracting to the viewers.

Throughout the editing process, I experimented and played around colors on how to best evoke a somber yet playful feeling. The main challenge here is keeping the edit consistent, so that they all come together cohesively. And further refinement of edits are made based on feedback I received from class discussions.

I kept the base of all the photographs cool tone to reflect the negative consequences I want to portray while keeping one element of each photograph as a pop of color to draw the attention of potential viewers. This pop of color also serves the purpose of representing this on-and-off belief of whether Instagram actually makes you more happy or less happy. We, especially teenagers and young adults, overuse social media. And I say overuse because we are more present and more interested in what is on our explore feed rather than the daily routine in reality and people around us. We become addicted to posting and looking good. This app becomes this creative outlet many of us where we are able to freely express ourselves and creativity, which in turn makes us feel fulfilled and happier. But we are also becoming more disconnected with the reality. So, does it make us happier or emptier?

Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.28.07 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.28.07 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.28.25 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.28.25 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.28.36 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.28.36 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.29.09 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.29.09 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.29.00 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.29.00 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.29.20 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.29.20 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.29.51 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.29.51 PM.png
Screenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.30.40 PM.pngScreenshot 2022-07-09 at 4.30.40 PM.png


EmPhoto Poster-07.jpgEmPhoto Poster-07.jpg

Final Result

Showing depression, eating disorder, and anti-social behavior respectively.




Models: Marysia Maciejko, Fardis Zare, Maha Nauman, Hakyung Jeong, Nina Zdral

Ein Projekt von


International Integrated Design

Art des Projekts

Studienarbeit im Masterstudium


foto: Klaus Pollmeier

Zugehöriger Workspace

EM Photo 2022


Sommersemester 2022