BY Jackie O’Rourke
On Feb. 18, the School of Communication, Media and the Arts (SCMA) held an event called the “Senior Spotlight Photo Gallery.” This exhibit showcases the photography of two seniors: The Spectrum’s Bryana Cielo, Editor in Chief, and Erica Condon, Managing Editor.
Cielo’s exhibit portrays Sacred Heart’s Division I women’s swimming and diving team and their interactions at meets. When asked about her choice of subject matter, Cielo said, “I know what it’s like to be an aquatic athlete. I’ve known swimmers and divers my whole life and they put hours and hours into their sport – it’s something that I don’t think a lot of people realize.”
Condon’s exhibit displays her photographs of individuals in various aesthetic locations. “I strongly value the connections and relationships I make with people,” she said. “I believe that everyone is put into our lives for a reason, whether it be a stranger you talk to briefly in public or a best friend you have known for years. Genuine human connection and interaction is vital in life because our humanity is the one thing we all have in common.”
Condon’s friends were the subjects and inspiration for her work. “My friends mean the world to me, and they are a huge inspiration in my portrait photography. It fascinates me that the way I see someone is not the same way they view themselves.” Her goal was to use different angles and lighting techniques to capture the beauty and raw emotions of people.
Freshman Nicole O’Connor commented on Condon’s work: “I like the color and lighting of the photos. Everything is so polished; the subject is always in focus and nothing is distracting in the background.”
“Photography is my way of expressing my creative visions,” said Condon. “I love that I am able to connect with my subjects and build relationships during photoshoots, and I can watch them become more comfortable in front of the camera by the end of a shoot.”
Prof. Richard Falco, Coordinator of Multimedia Journalism, is the one who started the annual Senior Spotlight Photo Gallery. Falco selects the students whose work is featured each year. He started the event so that his students would be able to share their photographs with the rest of the student body, as this is what they could be doing for a living.
The opening of the exhibit was a small affair. Professors and students gathered in the SCMA offices in the Matire building, where the photos are currently on display, and Falco had a conversation with Cielo and Condon about their work.
Cielo wanted to use photography to raise people’s awareness about swimming and diving. All of her photos are candids, juxtaposing blurs of movement with figures and elements in sharp focus. The closeness and cohesiveness of the team is frequently emphasized.
“I think a lot of people see swimming as following a black line at the bottom of the pool, but it’s so much more than that,” she said. “It takes passion, hard work and dedication.”
The weekend following the gallery opening, Feb. 19-22, Cielo traveled with her team to the 2020 NEC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships at Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow, N.Y. The pioneers came in sixth place in the tournament.
Junior Kayla Testi said of Cielo’s work, “I really enjoyed the pictures of people swimming. It gives an upbeat mood. I really liked one photograph in particular – the one where everyone was cheering. You feel the energy in the photo: everyone is getting involved and supporting each other.”
Tyler Lascola and Kristen Cignarella contributed to this article.