Photo Essay

A Photo Essay:

Narrative: My fascination with exoplanets all started one day while I was searching google news for the stories of the day; I saw the story about the nearest exoplanet was only 13 light years away (Grossman). While this was relatively closer that other stories I had read, it made me think about how soon we would have to develop the technology to travel such a vast distance. I also wondered about how deep space travel would affect the human body both physically and mentally. I realized that if we took care of the planet we have, we would not have to think about moving to another planet. Therefore, I starting looking into the resources we take for granted here on earth that we would need to have on an exoplanet. The basics came to mind, food, water, and atmosphere; but I wanted to do more. People need companionship, shown through family gatherings, and people need a climate they can survive in – resources for shelter need to be seen on the planet if the climate gets cold or very hot to protect from the sun. The pictures collected are a representation of things people need on earth to survive. I want people to look at them and protect what they have, rather than them looking for a new world we may never have the technological ability to arrive at.
                        Photo one, Sunrise on a Cloudy Day, depicts a sunrise symbolizing the need for the sun’s rays and warmth. Without a sun, the planet would be too cold for life and planets would cease to grow. However, it is not as easy simply to have a sun; the sun has to be a habitable distance so the planet is not too hot or too cold. The pictures Snowy Evening and Leisurely View of Summer illustrate climate importance because these pictures depict the extremes of our current climate. Even in these “extremes,” people need shelter, also seen in these pictures, to survive in the elements. What is another essential to life? The answer is water, freshwater, for drinking and irrigation for crops to sustain a population. Babbling Creek 1 and Babbling Creek 2 are pictures of a freshwater creek that sustains an ecosystem involving waterfowl and fish; this creak also sustains trees and other plants needed to produce oxygen to the surrounding communities. Without a creek or some type of water source, life on an exoplanet would not be possible and not a viable option if there were a need to change planets.
            Clouds Rolling into Campus was a picture I took on my way to a night class as a storm was approaching. The definition in the clouds is amazing and it is a representation of the atmosphere humans live in on Earth. The Nitrogen and Oxygen in the air are unique to earth and the ability to sustain life. In the theme of weather on earth, Creating one’s own Twister, taken at The Museum of Science and Industry, shows wind. Wind is important because it transfers weather from one place to another and the movement keeps the planet alive and well. The pollution put into the atmosphere has arguable changed these weather patterns and is responsible for the shifting of seasons and extreme rain and drought across the earth. The rain from the atmosphere is important because it helps grow planets. The Foraging Robin in the Fall, depicts land that is fertile, as seen by the grass. The robin in the photo is important because it is foraging for food before the cold of winter comes. The food it is able to forage will sustain it throughout the winter. Fertile land is necessary on the proposed new planet for not only nourishment, but for the replenishing of oxygen needed for humans to breathe and survive. Along with a fertile land to grow crops, humans must maintain protein in their diet. The photo titled, Majestic Doe along the Path, shows a doe juxtaposed with structures built by humans. This not only shows the invasion into nature, but an example of a protein source for humans. Though there may not be the typical “deer” on a new planet, there still has to be a protein source that humans can catch, consume, and extract nutrients from. The following photo titled, Mating Ritual of Ducks, shows two ducks in the beginning of spring. This is typically the time in which animals pair up and reproduce the next generation. This is important for humans because this is an ever-replenishing source of protein. There needs to be a replenishing protein on the exoplanet for a sizable population to survive.
Lastly, The Gathering of Family and Friends, depicts human’s need for companionship. This would be needed not only on the planet, but also on the trip to the planet. This is where technology needs to advance and research needs to be done on the effect of long-term space travel on the human body. With everything, people see they would need to survive, is it really easier to pack up and leave earth rather than take care of it? That decision is one that needs to be made soon if there is a chance to save the earth’s resources needed for survival.

Closing Comments: I think my purpose was achieved in this photo essay because I do show people what they need in order to live on earth as well as any habitable exoplanet. I think I do show them what the beauty of earth hold and show them a new perspective of nature from my eyes, as a photographer. The last line of my introduction states my argument and what I wanted my audience to do with my argument. I did not state why we would have to move off earth or that people wanted to move off earth, but I did ask questions of what people would do without certain life-sustaining materials. I also told people what they need here on earth to live and that these resources would need to be on the exoplanet as well. I am confident that my photos and narrative make the argument that the earth need to be protected and saved, or the alternative is developing technology to search the galaxy for new earth-like planets. I leave the ending question to make the audience think: When will the technology be available to send multiple people off to look for a new “earth”? Do we want to wait that long before saving the Earth we have? I want this question to stay in their mind and make them ponder their lives and interactions with the earth - I feel I accomplished this task with the narrative and pictures/captions.
Grossman, Lisa. (2014, February 6). Closest Earth-like Planet May Be 13 Light Years Away. New . 
Retrieved from
Milliron, Amber. (2013). Babbling Creek 1
--- (2013). Babbling Creek 2
---. (2014). Clouds Rolling into Campus
---. (2013). Creating one’s own Twister
---. (2013). Foraging Robin in the Fall, The
---. (2013). Gathering of Family and Friends, The
---. (2013). Leisurely View of Summer
---. (2013). Majestic Doe along the Path,
---. (2013). Mating Ritual of Ducks
---. (2014). Snowy Evening
---. (2014). Sunrise on a Cloudy Day

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