Mohammad “Chomio” Nasrullah Winner of the 2015-2016 CUNY Photo Challenge
In online balloting over the summer, students chose “Unbottled Emotions: The Finals Cycle” as their favorite among the monthly winners in CUNY’s 2015-2016 photo competition. Brooklyn College’s Mohammad “Chomio” Nasrullah, now a senior, posed fellow student Kelly Alvarez in multiple positions around the table, then combined the images in Photoshop.
“A Freed Spirit” is a title that is not only literal – with Queensborough Community College freshman Anthony Patterson joyously vaulting in the air – but also what photographer CJ Reitman says was her sense of “me being able to dance vicariously through Anthony, a truly gifted and talented dance major here on campus at QCC. I was a dancer for many years. It was my passion until age and injury retired my body but not my spirit. Once we began, it was evident that he, too, was embracing his own sense of freedom.” She adds that the location – the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives on campus – “adds to that sense of freedom, but is a sad reminder that not everyone is or has been fortunate enough to experience a sense of freedom, physically, spiritually or creatively. For those who have not, this is for you.”
CJ Reitman (Queensborough ’16) emailed a request for dancers to volunteer for a photo shoot. “I had not planned to submit this for the Photo Challenge. It was more of a therapeutic creative endeavor,” she says. “I had never met Anthony before. He was amazing! I would suggest a movement and he would intuitively know what I was feeling and wanted to see. I loved working with him. I think all dancers are kindred spirits. Dancing is spiritual. There are no limitations physically or mentally, as this image portrays.” She freelances by photographing newborns at Huntington Hospital on Long Island, shoots landscapes while traveling and will pursue a bachelor of fine arts in fine art photography at Fashion Institute of Technology.
“Somos Guerreros (We Are Warriors)” speaks to the pride that photographer Jonathan Tzitzimititla, a junior at New York City College of Technology, and his model, BMCC freshman Daisy Arenas, take in their Aztec heritage. Johnathan says that many people “are ashamed of their culture or deny their ethnicity,” particularly in the heat of “the presidential (Republican) debates going on. Daisy and I are proud to be Mexican-Americans.” He said it was a surprise when she arrived for the photo shoot in Prospect Park dressed in a costume that she wears when dancing at the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 – particularly because the temperature was a frigid 25 degrees. A dancer with the Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo in Brooklyn, she expects to pursue a bachelor’s degree in theater and dance after earning her associate degree. Both are native New Yorkers.
Jonathan Tzitzimititla studies mechanical engineering at City Tech. He took up photography as a hobby after finding photo-worthy subjects while riding his bicycle around his neighborhood. He started with cellphone photography, then invested in a digital camera, a Nikon D610. He shot this photo with a 50mm f/1.8 lens using available light.
“Jumping Peers” is a bit of whimsy that photographer Anetta Rajcsány created at a Borough of Manhattan Community College Peer Mentor retreat at a YMCA camp in the Catskills last summer. She was shooting photos of “a group of amazing students, mentors and friends who were part of the Peer Mentor Program to help new students become successful. I wanted to do something fun and different, so I told everyone to jump on the count of three.” It took a few tries, but she captured the moment. At the retreat, “We learned self-awareness, leadership, communication and organizational skills, but most of all we got to know each other and become friends.” BMCC began the Peer Mentoring Program in 1998 to encourage students to stick with college.
Anetta Rajcsány, who immigrated from Hungary three years ago, intends to graduate with a BMCC degree in business administration in Fall 2016. She would like to find an internship and spend the following year in business, then earn a bachelor’s in marketing and advertising. “Opening my own business in the future would be a dream come true,” she says. Meanwhile, she works as a photographer when she can (“baby shoots for friends, also weddings.”) “This is my second semester in the mentoring program. I chose it because I know how it feels to adapt to a new school, especially if you speak another language. You don’t know anyone and you’re not as brave to speak up. With this program we share our story with freshmen, and maybe help them to become more successful. It’s heartwarming when your mentees say thank you for helping them. It works both ways, for I’ve learned a lot from my mentees.”
“Unbottled Emotions: The Finals Cycle.” Photographer Mohammad “Chomio” Nasrullah, who knows the frustration that can come from hours of studying for finals, says this composite photo “is meant to show the emotions and phases a student goes through while studying for ‘that’ dreaded final. From knowing to not knowing, concentrating to passing time on the phone, crying in a corner in contrast to actually trying to figure out what’s going on. The library seemed to be a suitable place because I feel comfortable studying out of home.”
To make this shot, he first locked his camera onto a tripod to ensure pinpoint registration of the multiple images he would shoot. He posed model Kelly Alvarez — who, as a photographer, won second place in the November Photo Challenge — in successive shots around the table. He combined the images in Photoshop to compose this intriguing scene.
Mohammad “Chomio” Nasrullah is a Brooklyn College junior who majors in biology and minors in neuroscience. He intends to go to medical school, although “unfortunately I’ll have to stop working as a freelance photographer,” shooting baby showers, weddings and parties. In his spare time, he sketches, edits and produces videos, reads about bacteria and medical breakthroughs, and watches documentaries and anime —“Can’t forget anime.” He says he shot this image with the CUNY Photo Challenge in mind.
“Unplanned Symmetry” offers a counterpoint between the rigid geometry of air conditioners jutting from a brick façade and the lightly clouded sky, capturing the tension between restricted urban life and free, uncomplicated nature. The building is the George Washington Hotel, on Lexington Avenue across 24th Street from Baruch College’s Newman Vertical Campus. It opened in 1928 and, in the 1930s, was the home of the poet W.H. Auden and the novelist Christopher Isherwood; now it primarily offers student housing, mainly for the School of Visual Arts.
Tamari Kamladze is a Baruch junior who majors in finance and investments and minors in philosophy. After graduation in spring 2017, she intends to pursue an M.B.A. in finance. Meanwhile, she enjoys photography, tennis and yoga. She says that while “crossing the street on my way to the Vertical Campus, I saw the windows and ACs of the George Washington building lined up perfectly, waiting there for a shot. I took a picture and, every time I cross the street and look up, it gives me a little smile, knowing that I might be one of the few who notice such things and enjoys them.”
“Bookworm” captures a typical campus scene, particularly at exam time: A reader engrossed in learning in the library. Sophomore Josue Mendez posed senior Nancy Zhu in Baruch College’s Newman Library during midterms. Shooting with the Photo Challenge in mind, he decided to “retake one I did last semester, which featured the same girl, but standing up and pulling a book out of the bookcase. I thought I could give it an extra kick” by seating her between the stacks. “Every student goes through midterms, and every student understands the struggle.”
Josue Mendez (’18) is marketing major who intends to switch to corporate communications. His goal is to one day own a business. “What would be cool is to start up a clothing line where a small percentage of the profit would go to charities. The charities I would love to help out would, hopefully, deal with raising the economy of the Bronx, where I live and which is currently the poorest borough.” He engages in a variety of extra curricular activities, including student government and directing photography for the yearbook. During his free time, he explores the city “with a camera in my hand” and posts to Instagram(@no.way.josue). “I love to hang out with my friends and just have fun. I love movies, so time spent at home with the lights off watching a movie is a good night in my opinion.”
September ’15 – Winner #1
“Clone” is a playful look at Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Fitterman Hall and its dense urban surroundings. “I took the photo because I was amazed how the building mirrored the reality,” says Anastasia Mironova. “I usually take photos with my DSLR, but my camera’s battery was dead, so had to use my iPhone. Fitterman Hall reflects the surroundings quite nicely. I centered the edge of the building to divide the photo evenly.” The woman is a classmate whom Mironova shot during a photo class field trip; the assignment was “to look outside the box and notice shadows and reflections for interesting compositions. Quite honestly, I didn’t expect it to be a hit, even though I liked the composition, myself.”
Anastasia Mironova is a business administration major who expects to earn her BMCC A.A. degree in the summer or fall of 2016. She intends to move on to Baruch College to study business entrepreneurship. She took the photography class to meet a requirement, but also is completing a course with the private, online New York Institute of Photography. “I’m well aware of composition techniques, lighting and photography principles,” she says. She says she spends her spare time “experimenting with my DSLR, reading and website testing.”