Photographing Chicago Ideas Week: A Harrington Student's Story

December 11, 2012 General, Photography 0 Comments

Chicago Ideas Week

To commemorate Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) 2012 with hundreds of images from those who captured it, Harrington College of Design will host its second annual gallery reception on December 14 from 5 to 7:30pm in the Barbara Marks Gallery at 200 W. Madison. This is a free event open to the public. Ahead of the show, Harrington’s Kara Taussig spoke with Danyel Duncan, one of the photography students who participated, about the CIW experience.

"Just being a part of CIW was fantastic and overwhelming. The platform of profound people free flowing ideas on how to make life better in just about every category possible was ... amazing and inspiring."

This is Danyel Duncan’s first reflection when asked about her experience as a photographer at Chicago Ideas Week. Danyel is a digital photography student at Harrington College of Design and has photographed CIW two years in a row. We're sitting behind the desk in The Cage, a floor-to- ceiling equipment library full of capture stations, lighting and lenses, as she responds thoughtfully, a fresh and poignant nostalgia to her voice.

She, along with 11 other students and alumni from the photography programs at Harrington, covered more than 100 assignments, working an average of 10-16 hours for seven days, shooting thousands of photos to document the event in its entirety. Her work at the Chicago Ideas Week gallery reception this Friday will feature a unique collection of professional, polished, quirky and down-to-earth portraits of guest speakers and participants from the week’s talks, amidst an extensive and eclectic sea of others from fellow students and graduates.

To successfully prepare for the event both in 2011 and 2012, a Chicago Ideas Week elective class has been offered to Harrington photography majors the past two fall semesters. Over the course of 15 weeks, students were given specific assignments and instructions regarding CIW standards, workflow, editing, delivering of images and other relative protocol. With conviction and sincere gratitude, Danyel describes the experience as one of most educational she’s had to date.

“I think that every single person who participated in Chicago Ideas Week gained more than what they bargained for or expected.” When discussing the gallery space, she comments that despite the fact that each student had the same information and training to utilize, they all delivered and applied it in their own style and unique vision. (She claims that she can immediately tell “who shot what” without looking at the name.) “That’s what separates photographers: What they see … You don’t see the same things as other people, though you may think you do. Everyone sees in their own way, and it’s amazing how different photos of the same subjects can be.”

Asked why staff, volunteers and attendees should come to gallery show other than to witness a series of interesting photographs, she said, “To walk through and visually experience the excitement all over again and commit it to memory … The whole point of photography is to immortalize a moment, a time that has passed … Through photographs, you can capture a moment forever.”

And if that’s not enough of a reason, come to potentially see yourself in the coverage. “There are a lot of staff and volunteers that don’t even know they’re in these photos!”

Join us on campus this Friday to relive, reflect and extend an inspiring week over photos, talks with each other, and the spreading of your own ideas. No RSVP is necessary. For more information, please contact Kara Taussig at


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