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Rites of Passage

This assignment ran from Jul 10 to Jul 31, 2019.

Nearly every community on the planet has rites of passage that signal transition in the life of an individual. Important rites of passage may easily come to mind: a coming-of-age ceremony, marriage, the arrival of your first child.

I am reminded of Your Shot photographer Corinne Isabelle Rinaldis’s 2016 picture “Quinceañera en Oaxaca.” Other transitional life moments may only be recognized within a particular region, village, neighborhood, or family. Your Shot photographer Terra Fondriest writes about her 2018 image, “Shooting the BB gun is like a childhood rite of passage here in the Ozarks.” Some of these life moments are highly anticipated, while others may catch you by surprise and resonate in entirely unexpected ways.

For this assignment, I invite the Your Shot community to ponder the sacred customs of significant moments, big and small, that exist in your life and in the communities around you. You are welcome to submit images from your archive. But consider making new pictures just for this assignment, too! Challenge yourself to consider a broader understanding of what a rite of passage can be. Poignant moments, like those captured by Your Shot photographers Kate T. Parker (“Tooth Fairy Is Coming”) and Joseph Grant Trammell (“I’m a Big Girl Now”), are happening around us every day. Here are some examples of images submitted for past assignments:

Hat Toss” by AJ Lee
Surfers Paddle Out in Tribute” by Jennifer Webber
The Faith Within” by Sutapa Roy
New West Point Cadet Gets the Buzz Cut” by (Unknown)
Sweet Moment at the Bar Mitzvah” by Miriam Hoffmann
Curious” by Noriel Padiernos
Bull Jumping, Jamar People, Ethiopia 3” by Yoko K.
Rite of Passage” by Carol Worrell
Bull Jumping Ceremony, Ethiopia” by Pascal Mannaerts
Rite of Passage” by Irma Kuptel
Rite of Passage” by Thomas Cogdell
Rite of Passage” by Miriam Sims Mitchell
Rite of Passage” by Susan Dyrud MacDonald

Take a moment to write thoughtful captions that provide important context to what is pictured. Your Shot photographer Kristianne Riddle’s 2014 image “Shorebreak” shows a young boy facing a breaking wave. The caption she includes elevates this moment by offering context about her family’s experiences with the ocean. She writes, “The water is one of the few places where we can learn to be both capable and fragile. My children have known the lure and the danger of the ocean their entire lives. From the time they could walk I found myself photographing them in the waves on a regular basis. I witnessed them learning to trust their power and be at peace with their fragility in the ocean as they went through this special rite of passage.”

This kind of information is especially important for all of those unexpected images I know you’ll submit. The beauty of this global Your Shot community is that we can ponder the unique from around the world while also celebrating the universal. I can’t wait to see your pictures.

Jenn Poggi
Assistant Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology

Curated by:

Jenn Poggi
Assistant Professor, RIT, School of Photographic Arts and Sciences
Assignment Status
  • Open

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  • Closed

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  • Published

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Published Aug 19, 2019.
Thank you for your contributions!

Advice About Your Portfolio From Jenn Poggi

Posted aug 22, 2019

Click HERE to read the discussion board post from Jenn Poggi with advice regarding your portfolio.

Further Insight on Editing Final Story from Jenn Poggi

Posted aug 20, 2019

My conversations with Jenn Poggi about her final story inspired this discussion board post revealing further insight on her editing process. Tomorrow (August 21st) I will post on the discussion board portfolio advice from Poggi.

Caption Information is Crucial

Posted jul 19, 2019

Looking at your images this last week has been so much fun. I love seeing the great images you are submitting and learning about the variety of rites of passage in communities of all sizes around the world.

I’m tagging all kinds of terrific pictures and commenting on as many as I can. However, the pictures that will make the final story are those that really connect to the assignment. Caption information is crucial – don’t just write about what’s happening in the picture. Take time to share why that moment serves as a rite of passage for the person(s) pictured. If you are not sharing this information, you are leaving the audience to make assumptions, which is never a good thing.

Remember, I’m challenging you to think not only about the most traditional and momentous rites of passage in your life, but those unexpected and seemingly every-day moments that turn out to be quite poignant, too. And, I want to make note that your images don’t have to be positive. Several of you have already shared significant transitional life moments that depict hardships, sadness and even struggle.

So, I encourage you to think outside the box. Try thinking about rites of passage from a new perspective – from beyond the most anticipated and expected moments in one’s life. Explore your immediate world and see if you can capture, and explain, what you find.

Keep up the great work everyone!

Jenn Poggi

Jenn Poggi

Jenn Poggi

Assistant Professor, RIT, School of Photographic Arts and Sciences
Jenn Poggi is an assistant professor in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences. She joined RIT after working as a picture editor and deputy director of the White House Photo Office under President Barack Obama. Poggi began her career with the Associated Press and later joined U.S. News & World Report, eventually serving as the magazine’s deputy director of photography. Jenn was awarded a John S. and James L. Knight Fellowship at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication where she taught picture editing while completing her master's degree in multimedia and newsroom graphics management. She serves on the faculty of The Kalish Visual Editing Workshop and was a member of the 2017 Women’s Executive Leadership Program​ at the Impact Center.