High School English with a Twist

The musings of Susan E dot Cohen

Month: January, 2013

Deliciously Vogue – A Letter to Anna Wintour


Photo by Susan Cohen

Dear Anna Wintour,

I rarely read Vogue. I sometimes read it while getting my hair done or if I am traveling somewhere. During those limited occasions, I generally do not enjoy the magazine. I am not a fan of Vogue’s layout, I do not connect to the articles, and I find the magazine’s text too small. However, for some reason yesterday, I decided to buy the February issue at Penn Station before taking the train out to Long Island.

As soon as I started to flip through the pages, I found myself enjoying Vogue for the first time. I read one interesting article after another. I was enjoying the articles so much that I was devouring them. The issue was just so delicious that I put aside my differences with Vogue. I never thought I would like Vogue let alone call it delicious. I am still enjoying the satisfaction from yesterday’s reading. I feel I must thank you for making Vogue the highlight of my Tuesday.

Thank you for two delicious train rides reading your delicious issue. More importantly, thank you for finally helping me see Vogue as it should be seen. You transformed me into a Vogue reader on what I thought would be an average commute to and from Long Island. I am already looking forward to reading the March issue on the train.

Sincerely Your Newest Reader,

Susan Cohen

The Modern Day Daguerreotype


Susan’s First Instagram Photo*

I am prefacing this piece by saying that my time as an Art History minor at Barnard gives me the authority to write about the daguerreotype and art in general. Although that is far from a true authority, I feel that the minor is enough of a credential to create a parallel between the daguerreotype and a modern photographic phenomenon. If my Art History minor is not strong enough then I am invoking my Barnard degree. A liberal arts degree should allow me the authority to create connections throughout the course of history. 

Just as the daguerreotype created the ability to capture images in a new way, our phones are changing the way we capture images once again. No longer do we need to carry around a digital camera when our phones take HD photos. Photos that are so crisp and clear that they look semi-professional. Case in point, this photo of a buffalo burger taken on my phone. The photo looks straight out of Bon Appetit. The photo was not staged, but looks as though it could have been staged. The avocado happened to be present when the photo was taken.

Buffalo Burger

Beyond just equipping us with camera power, photo culture is changing in America thanks to an app on our phones – Instagram. Instagram, as my friend explained to me, is for artsy photos. I am taking the word artsy straight from such friend. This does not mean that artsy photos do not end up on Facebook in vacation albums. However, Facebook is very different from Instagram. Facebook is more concerned with the principle of ‘let me show you what I did today’. If ‘let me show you what I did today’ happens to be artsy then so be it. Facebook encourages stalking and not the creation of art. Instagram is art centric. It encourages the world being viewed as a photographic canvas. A pretty tree becomes a reason to stop and take a photo.


I stopped and took a photo of this tree.* 

Instagram did not create the the world being viewed as art. The world has always been the ultimate source of inspiration for artists. Just look at sublime art where nature is front and center. For the average person, Instagram helps us see the world as art. Look a pretty tree. I should photograph the tree. The tree is now art. Let me share my art.

Once we have captured that art, the app is our chance to show off our best work. A chance for that work to be liked. In a sense, Instagram is our gallery. A gallery for the masses. With this principle a foot, each photo is not just a photo. It is a chance for Instagram fame even if our fame is just from our friends.

Instagram’s future is unclear. It may come and go like the daguerreotype. However, like the daugerreotype, Instagram is leaving its imprint on photography and how humans experience photography.

*I prefer to take photos on my phone’s camera and then upload to Instagram. I felt it was important to be honest on this point.

Island Hopping

photo-29I island hop frequently. No, this does not mean I go down to the Caribbean often and move between islands. My island hopping is far simpler. In fact, my island hopping is quite local and can be accomplished by car or train at anytime of the day. What is this island hopping you ask? Well, this island hopping is between an island that is grand and an island that is long. Have you guessed it yet? I am sure you have.

If you question whether this is truly island hopping then I will say this – they are both islands surrounded by water so how could it not be island hopping? Something to think about the next time you move between Manhattan and Long Island. Something I think about quite often.

So skip that trip to the Caribbean and go hop to the island next door.