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Entertainment & Media

Story Behind the Shot 01

By Garrick Neuner

Volume 1 Issue 3

December 16, 2020

Story Behind the Shot 01

Original photography by Garrick Neuner (top left), Eva Grace Martinez (bottom left), and Olivia Neuner (right)

Welcome to the first article in our newest segment, Story Behind The Shot! (Thank you to Samantha Altieri for the title.) This segment serves to highlight the purpose and artistry behind Valley Stream North students’ use of social media. I’m the first author for the column, so here I’ll share 3 pictures from my Instagram account that best explain my purpose on the platform.

Before I begin, I should address the large beaked animal in the room. In all my posts, I don an eerie, realistic, yet silly rubber bird mask. I bought the covering at a Halloween store as a simple yet evocative costume – me, but with a pigeon head. The acclaim from my fellow trick-or-treaters and unsuspecting homeowners alike gave me a unique and strange surge in confidence, allowing me to play out an eccentric character with almost no repercussions. Following that day, unfortunately, the mask sat collecting dusk in my closet, leaving all my Halloween fun behind. A few months later, feeling a nostalgic pang for the holiday and a desire to revive my character, I strove to share my concealed self once again. This time, though, I knew to record the experience for the entertainment of myself and my friends.


This picture in front of my mirror was the first I captured while wearing my mask, so it holds a special place in my heart. The inspiration for the photo came from my curiosities about social media, including why people post pictures of themselves on a consistent basis. Having rarely used Instagram before that day, I didn’t see the appeal. Eager to try new things, though, I planned to post a new image that day. The mask both metaphorically and literally hid my face from view, which I suppose could portray my ideas as deeply as a viewer sees fit. In a funny yet ironic commentary, along with my plain camera shyness, I posted the image with a simple caption: “Feelin pretty cute today”. The Likes flowed in, bringing me a hit of dopamine that finally made me realize why people post like this - and that I’d need to keep my own posts infrequent.

(Photo credit Garrick Neuner)


This photo represents the most effort I have put into a post. With careful planning, multiple accomplices, and even extra props, the hunt was on for the perfect snapshot of my day in Manhattan. One of my group's many destinations on that hectic day was the Vessel, an interactive tourist attraction and the symbol of the new Hudson Yards. This location was quite literally built for photographic opportunities, so it seemed natural to prepare to produce an amazing picture. Navigating the Vessel proved tiring after an already grueling walk through the city, with its gritty stone stairs providing no rest for exhausted legs. Nonetheless, we marched to the middle of the bronze tower to search for the perfect image. With props in hand and a spotter to make sure our coast was clear, I posed and the photo was captured by the camera (of THE NORTH STAR’s own Grace Martinez!).

(Photo credit Grace Martinez)


The photos I took in Vermont add one last facet to my Instagram experience. On my (pre-COVID) travels, I made it my goal to document my journeys with the crow mask in order to diversify the content on my account. Instead of lazily staring out the window on a long car ride, I actively sought out photo-ops. Even when arriving at a destination, I would search for the best places and angles to take a picture from. My increased awareness for my surroundings brought me more in touch with the environments I have encountered, both natural and manmade. My sister Olivia suggested I hide behind the flowers at our friends’ scenic Vermont home, and I loved the picture so much that it became the profile pic I use to this day.

(Photo credit Olivia Neuner)

If you’d like to write the next Story Behind the Shot, message me or our adviser, Mrs. Mansfield!

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