In Fall 2023 I was enrolled in a photography class at Penn State. For my final semester project, I chose to explore the cultural music diversity in Austin, Texas. There was a series of music performances held at the Central Market North Lamar location which is a grocery store and quirky local entertainment gathering spot. I attended and took photos at four of the performances in November 2023: Cienfuegos (Latin/Salsa), Jerrells (Rockabilly), Desi Nostalgia (Bengali), and Alex Coke (Jazz).


This was a great photography study as I learned how to manually configure camera equipment, properly balance shots, and make adjustments in post-production using Adobe Photoshop. A 20MP Kodak PIXPRO AZ405-WH was used for the photo sessions. As the device is a bridge camera with features in-between a point-and-shoot and digital SLR, there were both pros and cons to using this particular device. The nice aspects were the high resolution and zoom that enabled for tight shots that were compositionally balanced. A challenge though was that the bridge camera aperture was limited to only around F3.0 at the widest zoom and so the often dimly lit environments and fast motion forced a trade-off of less optimal shutters of around 1/40 with ISO 1600 to mitigate underexposure and blur. These moderations made for some great shots that were clear and beautiful, but also resulted in a large number of shots that were afflicted by blur and not considered for the final project arrangement. Photo touch-up in Adobe Photoshop was helpful to tweak image cropping and adjust overall tone dynamics.


The final photo story is portrayed using the grocery store host location as an overarching framework to display each of the musical performances. Food staple photos that are characteristic of each genre or culture act as boundaries in telling the visual story. For example, a local brand of salsa was used as a photo segway to the Latin/Salsa musical group and similarly for the other performances. One of the most important lessons realized in the photo study was that many of the best photos showed human emotions such as performers concentrating on their playing or through the mesmerized reactions of the audience. This serves as a general reminder that designs should make a both a pragmatic connection with the consumer as well as an aesthetic or emotional connection if they are to be successful.

This photo story was done purely as an academic study and is not affiliated with Central Market nor the performers.