Whether it be a chance encounter, a missed flight, or even a seemingly insignificant piece of advice from a friend, it is the little moments in life that truly shape the person one becomes. For senior photography major Annie Denten, this “little moment” came in a birthday gift she was given at the age of eight.
Denton, a native of Le Grange Park, Illinois, cites a camera given by her parents as the first step towards becoming the photographer she is today.
“It was just a small film camera, but I started taking pictures of everything” Denten said. “Not good pictures, I would just photograph my room and stupid things around the house,” she continued.
What started as a childhood activity quickly grew into something more as Denten got older. From testing out her mom’s camera to photographing France with a digital, Denten recalls all of these experiences as instances that made her increasingly more interested in photography. She then took an AP Photo class in high school, and shortly afterward realized that since her passion was in photography, she wanted to pursue it as a career.
Though uncertain about what exactly she would do with her major, Denten was quickly exposed to the world of fine art photography upon arriving at Dayton.
“Fine art photography is more expressive, like painting, but with light and a camera,” Denten said. “Compared to ad photography it’s more conceptual and has more of a deeper meaning, it’s not meant to just look pretty.”
In fact, Denten feels that one of the turning points in her photography career involved a single fine arts project spanning across the entire semester.
“I wanted to do something with nostalgia. I love collecting old books and going thrift shopping, and I thought I would just photograph these objects I have and just make a conceptual project; but it just wasn’t working at all,” Denten said. “Then I was driving down the street in Dayton and I saw this yellow shopping cart in the middle of the road and I was like ‘that’s so interesting,’ and so I went back there and photographed myself in this shopping cart. It just all clicked, and then I made probably the best work I’ve made so far.”
The project also illustrated Denten’s beliefs about who she was, is, and continues to become. At a young age, she recalls having a vision of her former self in a past life. This belief that she was reincarnated into the person she is today has inspired a multitude of her work. Many of her projects explore mundane spots in the city in which she places herself in a void. In these photos, she aims to remove any sense of location and time in order to articulate her quest to find herself and who she was in a past life.
Not only is Denten’s passion for her craft reflected in her photos, but also in her involvement on campus. She works in both the Fitz and Radio galleries, as a lab monitor for the photo department, and also as a photographer for the College of Arts and Sciences.
As her time at UD winds down, Denten looks forward to the future with confidence. She hopes to get a job working in commercial photography and feels that Dayton has opened her eyes to many aspects of the field that she may not have been exposed to had she gone to a different school.
“I’ve learned all about photography theory and ethics and its lot deeper than people think it is,” Denten said. “The art of recreating an image that can be produced everywhere is a lot deeper too, and it’s really opened my eyes so that when I go into this field of advertising, hopefully I’ll be able to bring in this knowledge to make stronger work for the client.”
To see more of Annie’s work, visit https://anniedenten.com.
Photos courtesy of Annie Denten.