When inspiration struck Kaitlynn Toay for a photography class assignment, she began a year-long journey that combined two of her passions—her friends and Disney stories. The results of her work on display in the McClelland Art Gallery from now through November 20.
The story started in photography class where Toay had to complete a final project based on personal interests. The biology major from North Dakota struck upon the idea of taking photos of her and her friends dressed as various Disney characters—ranging from traditional classics to modern eccentrics. Her final project contains nineteen photographs, both in color and black and white.
Her passion for the project continued after she completed the class project and she spent the next year editing and tweaking the photos to her satisfaction.
The memorable characters drew Toay to focus on the Disney theme. Despite the often simple and predictable story lines, “The characters can take on whatever traits and personas you want them to as long as you get them from start to finish,” she said.
Toay hoped the project would help her identify with each character personally. Her favorite shoot was the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. With Jesse Evert, a junior from Wyoming, as the model, Toay said she had taken only a couple of pictures before she believed they had the perfect shot. They bought a deck of cards to destroy for the shoot, and with the the pressure off, they had fun with it.
Relying on her Canon 60D camera with a sigma DC 18-250mm lens for the project, Toay created digital images, which she later edited, printed out, matted and framed. She also used a Camranger, which is a tool that allows a photographer to control a camera from an iPhone or iPad. “Mr. Forbes was also a huge help to me with printing the photos and other aspects of the process,” she said.
Toay initially came to Union because it was closer to her family and her brother, who was a student at the time. After a stint at another college, she returned to Union to finish her degree. “My major is in biology, which is what inspired me to be interested in photography in the first place,” she said. “I have an interest in nature photography, but discovered I have a love for photographing people as well.”
The McClelland Art Gallery is located in the Ortner Center on the campus of Union College. It is open to the public daily from 8:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.