Student Artist of the Month: Allegra Dobson

photo: Annie Gao

photo: Annie Gao

Introduced to photography in elementary school, Allegra Dobson ’14 is a photographer who has traveled around the world taking pictures. She takes art classes at both Princeton High School and the Arts Council and also works on her own independent projects in which she uses both film and digital photography. She has worked on a photo booth for Studio Art 4 2D, and will continue to pursue her passion for photography as she moves on to Princeton University this fall.


How and when did you first become interested in photography and film?

My dad does a lot of wildlife photography, so he would always show us pictures that he took. I [became] interested in photography at a young age, [and] I got my first camera in elementary school. I got my first actual good camera in middle school and started studying photography then.


What is the process of darkroom photography?

For darkroom photography, [there is a dark room, and] you use a film camera and develop the film on your own. There [are fewer] people doing film photography … and darkroom photography now, and more people … get the throwaway camera and just send it off. I think in darkroom photography there’s a lot of art that goes into it and it’s a lot more hands-on, which is what I like about it. You get to pick out from a selection and you go through the chemicals. [There are] some manipulations, but I feel like you have a lot more of a raw image when you’re done. [Then] you print [the photos] using an enlarger [with] lots of chemicals.


How would you describe your style of photography? Are there any specific artists that you draw influence from?

I do a lot of portrait photography, but what I’m really interested in is photojournalism, [which is] traveling photography and photographing people in different cultures. I really like Henri Cartier Bresson; he’s a really famous old black and white photographer.


What type of pictures do you like photograph most? Why?

I really like photographing people and seeing how they react to photographs, especially when traveling. [I also like] catching people in their normal daily lives and activities.


Have you traveled for photography?

I’ve traveled a lot. My dad travels for work, so I get to tag along to a lot of cool trips. I like [to photograph in] rural places a lot. It relates to what I want to do in the future—documentary photography. I would ultimately like to work in a place like Nicaragua or Africa.


How are you going to pursue photography and film in the future?

I’m really interested in traveling and doing non-profit work in the future, and I’d definitely like to integrate photography into it. My dream job would be [photographing for] National Geographic, [because] I love traveling and [National Geographic has] been my favorite magazine ever since I was tiny—[my family] would get it all the time, [and so] it’s always been a part of my life. I definitely will take photography classes and minor in it in college.


Can you tell me about the photo booth project you’re currently working on?

I’m in Studio Art 4 2D at the high school. It’s the fourth year of art I’ve taken here. Basically every student [in art] gets a cubby where they can put an installation [for a project]. Since I’m interested in photography, my art teacher thought I should do something with photography. Eventually I came up with the concept of creating a photo booth. Basically the whole [idea] is about how one perceives themselves and how one wants to present themselves. Newspapers are also a form of … presentation of ideas, [so] that’s why [the photo booth] is covered in newspapers on the wall.


What’s the favorite picture you ever took?

I took a picture of two girls in Nicaragua a few summers ago. I really love traveling and I would like to do something with documentary photography in the future [and I would like to] combine helping people with photography. [The trip to Nicaragua] was a service trip and we were working in a rural village, and I took a picture of [the] two girls who lived in the village, who I grew closer to when I taught English lessons to them. [I like it] partially [for] the experience and also that I feel like I did a good job capturing their lives in the picture.