Denver’s Population: Still Safe to Drive?

For my audio slideshow, I looked at how people generally viewed driving conditions in the Denver Area. Recently, the city has experienced a population boom and I read a Denver Post report that traffic accidents are on the rise. In retrospect, my topic came to me from a close call on the road when I was heading to work. Having brainstormed many other topics, I was almost ready to throw in the towel and do another piece on swing dancing. However, I decided to venture into the background of my new co-worker. Recently, she had arrived from Miami, Florida. Ultimately, I wondered if Colorado’s road conditions were as bad as other major cities-especially given the population increase.

Given the nature of the project, I chose mostly conceptual photos. Rather than taking pictures of cars, I wanted the photos to have thematic meaning as well; this gave me a chance to be more creative. To begin, I wanted a minimalistic series of headings between each major line of questioning. Next, I added an intro sequence depicting a car start. I even recorded audio from my own car’s engine. Ultimately, this was done to capture the viewer’s interest without distracting him or her from the overarching topic. Next, I used a series of landscape photos to go alone with Ms. Keley’s story. Ultimately, we recorded 5 minutes of audio and I wanted to include a second interviewee. As a result, I cut several minutes of less-relevant topics. Later on, I interviewed a DU student who lived in the state more than 10 years. She had previously mentioned being exasperated with the driving conditions in the state. Since I wanted to portray both sides of the story, instead of creating a bias, I deliberately made the slideshow ambiguous. Additionally, I wanted to compare Denver to other cities in the story. Next, I wrote down themes of topics covered by my interviewees. Afterwards, I took photographs relating to those themes.

After planning out the story, and recording the interviews, I began visualizing the sort of photos I’d like to take. Of course, I was limited by a lack of a canon camera for the story (I was able to include some conceptual shots, fortunately). Additionally, my first interviewee did not wish to be photographed. Fortunately, my second interviewee did not mind-we even went for a short drive to take some shots. As for arranging the photographs, I listened to the audio and determined which photograph would be most relevant to the moment. Looking back, it was a fluid process. The project was more about the stories than the situations. Therefore, I chose not to include a music soundtrack. Overall, the conceptual photographs weren’t a challenge. Heading back to my house, I was able to take a few great photos. To convey a sense of Colorado’s size, I chose some landscape shots from Eastern Aurora. These really captured the sense of openness and wonder which draws many people to Colorado in the first place. Additionally, I included some photos of traffic while riding  passenger-side. Somehow, I was able to take enough photos to fluidly transition between points made in the audio. As for the audio questioning, I started with an inquiry into road conditions, background, driving experience, commute, and observed driving norms and style. Here, I was able to lead the conversations along similar paths–telling the audience who the interviewees are and what they bring to the table in terms of driving experience. Finally, I went back through and thought about photos I could take to add depth to the discussion. In the background, some photos would allude to social commentary made in the interviews. Most notably, towards the end of the slideshow, I snapped a photo of a magazine collage I made in high school. A monkey holding his head in frustration was meant to convey a sense of desperate anxiety. With respect to the interviews, I was able to get approximately ten minutes of audio from Munkhzaya and Ms. Kelly. Each of them had interesting  outlooks on driving in Colorado. In short, it is up to the audience whether they believe Denver is a bad place to drive. Of course, I also wanted to make sure the audio bits I included emphasized the importance of safety. Either way, safety is what makes this topic relevant in the first place. In the future, I hope to do more conceptual projects like these–they have the most interesting stories to tell.

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