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Hannah Altman, a sophomore photography major, never imagined that a personal photo project she shot in her dorm room would receive national attention. Altman posted her work - And Everything Nice, a series exploring the perception of female beauty - to her Tumblr account, and within 24 hours it was featured on BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and Cosmopolitan.

Pictured is Hannah Altman. Photo | Christopher Rolinson
A photo from And Everything Nice

"Hannah's project is incredibly important to the issues of feminism and is appropriate because it raises a lot of questions within her own generation," said April Friges, assistant professor of photography. "The use of social media platforms, which targets her specific age group to get her point across, is just one way conceptual photography can exist on a high level. Her use of the common college dorm, gritty fluorescent lighting and craft-quality materials to portray her point of view simply enhances the meaning of the work."

Below, Altman details what inspired her to create this series and how the widespread attention has impacted her as an artist.

What inspired you to create this project?

Rather than one specific 'Aha!' moment, the project slowly came into a physical form through the constant bombardment of media. The issue of sexism is hard to forget, because once you start to think about it, you realize that it is everywhere. As a result of this, whether I wanted to be thinking about this project or not, it was constantly in front of me.

Point Park (and Pittsburgh in general) has had a great affect on my productivity. In the city, I am constantly surrounded by artists who want to develop new ideas. We are all artists in our own respect, so when my roommates walked into the bathroom and saw me sticking glitter in my teeth (which was the first photo I shot from the series), they were all for it.

What impact has this project had on you?

The widespread attention that this series is getting has been great. I'm happy about the fact that I am making a name for myself, but I am even more pleased with the message of the project reaching a large audience. Sexism is an important issue that deserves to be questioned by many.

What was it like watching your project go viral?

The series is intimate because of the personal issues that are projected through the subjects. It was shot in a dorm with no budget and a very lax pace. Each shoot consisted mostly of discussing the issue that was being visualized. I published the photos onto my Tumblr page in February to a modest amount of followers. The intimate project quickly began to circulate, and in 24 hours had gained more than 130,000 notes. It now has twice as many.

Seeing the project go viral is an important aspect of this project because sitting behind the computer screen are real girls who all relate to this issue on a personal level. What began as a personal project shot in a college dorm has turned into a relatable and relevant statement that called the perception of beauty into question.

What message do you have for students interested in photography?

Be shooting all the time. Not just for projects. Keep yourself inspired.

What's next for you?

I'm going to continue to shoot what matters to me. Feminism is an important and recurring topic visually discussed in my work, and that will continue with future projects.


More About: photojournalism, photography