Thursday, September 3

va: direction

Main Problem

The segregation of Kansas City by race and class due to schools not being integrated.



Background Research



  • Racial segregation in housing and schools
    have been defining features of the Kansas City metropolitan area for over a century.

    The Kansas City, Missouri School District (KCMSD) was racially segregated
    from its creation in September 1867. In the ensuing decades, school officials
    provided separate education facilities for blacks and whites, and the city
    and metropolitan area developed clearly defined patterns of racial segregation....In the 1990s, Massey
    and Denton (1993, 75-7) identified Kansas City as one of the nation's
    hypersegregated metropolitan areas due to the high degree of segregation in
    housing patterns
    on a range of indices. While the index of dissimilarity for the
    metropolitan area declined slightly to 73.15 in 1990 and 69.12 in 2000, Kansas
    City continues to be one of the most segregated metropolitan areas in the nation
    (Mumford Center 2001), a situation that is reinforced by continuing
    suburbanization, inner city disinvestment, and school segregation. (http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kcur/files/Kevin_Fox_Gothom.pdf?__utma=91726592.8)  
  • Widening racial gaps in income, health, and work opportunities are putting the entire Kansas City area's economic future at risk, according to a new study. The trend will turn around only if the nine-county metropolitan area improves its "equity profile," researchers are due to tell civic leaders at a Tuesday luncheon. That means expanding programs and policies to help people of color live in safer neighborhoods, get better educations and obtain decent-paying jobs...Improving the economic lot of the area's racial minorities is essential, the report said. By 2040, 42 percent of the area's population is likely to be composed of minorities. In 2010, Census data put that share at 27 percent...."The region's white population grew only 5 percent....Equity is the superior growth model," Katerndahl said. "The whole workforce must be well-educated and engaged if you want this area to succeed." (http://blogs.cfed.org/cfed_news_clips/2013/10/racial-inequality-threatens-ka.html)
  • Although few policymakers and wonks are talking about it, a small but growing number of schools are attempting to boost the achievement of low-income students by shifting enrollment to place more low-income students in mixed-income schools. Socioeconomic integration is an effective way to tap into the academic benefits of having high-achieving peers, an engaged community of parents, and high-quality teachers. (http://www.tcf.org/work/education/detail/fighting-the-effects-of-poverty-through-socioeconomic-integration)
  • Our ability to remedy this situation by integrating schools is hobbled by historical ignorance. Too quickly forgetting 20th-century history, we've persuaded ourselves that the residential isolation of low-income black children occurs in practice but is not government-ordained. We think residential segregation is but an accident of economic circumstance, personal preference, and private discrimination. (http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may13/vol70/num08/Why-Our-Schools-Are-Segregated.aspx)
  • The widening income achievement gap is a symptom of a confluence of trends that have accompanied and exacerbated widening income inequality in the United States over the last four decades. But it is a symptom with real and important consequences....If we do not find ways to reduce the growing inequality in education outcomes, we are in danger of bequeathing our children a society in which the American Dream—the promise that one can rise, through education and hard work, to any position in society—is no longer a reality. Our schools cannot be expected to solve this problem on their own, but they must be part of the solution. (http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may13/vol70/num08/Why-Our-Schools-Are-Segregated.aspx)
  • On average, students' socioeconomic backgrounds have a huge effect on their academic outcomes. But so do the backgrounds of the peers who surround them. Poor students in mixed-income schools do better than poor students in high-poverty schools. (http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may13/vol70/num08/Boosting-Achievement-by-Pursuing-Diversity.aspx)
  • Socioeconomic integration is a win-win situation: Low-income students' performance rises; all students receive the cognitive benefits of a diverse learning environment (Antonio et al., 2004; Phillips, Rodosky, Muñoz, & Larsen, 2009); and middle-class students' performance seems to be unaffected up to a certain level of integration. Research about this last point is still developing. A recent meta-analysis found "growing but still inconclusive evidence" that the achievement of more advantaged students was not harmed by desegregation policies (Harris, 2008, p. 563). It appears that there is a tipping point, a threshold for the proportion of low-income students in a school below which middle-class achievement does not suffer.
  • If more schools, charter and otherwise, use creative strategies to tackle the challenges of socioeconomic integration, they can help shift the turnaround discussion from an exclusive focus on how to improve high-poverty schools to a discussion that also looks seriously at how to break up concentrations of poverty and provide more diverse learning environments for all students. (http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may13/vol70/num08/Boosting-Achievement-by-Pursuing-Diversity.aspx)
Audience

Possible Design Problems

  • We are trying to reach essentially two very different audiences. (lower / higher class)
  • So communicating to these people will take different approaches. We will have to find a way to communicate to both groups in a cohesive way.
  • Also the way in which we send our message may need to be approached in different ways. Lower income families may not have access to smart devices, whereas higher income families might not receive the message if it isn't sent through a smart device


Three Possible Directions 


1. inform and educate people on the gap


audience: could be parents within any social group that need to know the importance
of integrated education for their children





2. reach the people unwilling to send their kids to integrated schools and 
attempt to break down their reasons why / prove it's better for their children 


audience: parents of higher social status who send their children to schools that 
only provide interaction with kids in their own class and racial group 





3. reach the people that are unable to send their kids to schools that provide a 
better education and attempt to find resources for them 


audience: lower class parents who do not have the resources to send their kids 
to schools that provide a better education, also leaving these kids stuck in their
own racial and social groups 

Contact
ASCD 
Board of Education 
Teachers / Parents 



3 Possible Directions



  1. People are Uninformed
  2. People are Unwilling/There are no Role Models
  3. People are Unable

va: reading response

“Graphic Agitation: Social and political graphics since the sixties” by Liz Mcquiston, pp. 14–27 

Graphic art has been used to communicate provocative ideas for centuries. As technology improves, the sharing and widespread communication of these ideas get’s faster and vaster. It can also influence new ways of communicating and understanding, such as the new visual language that grew from manifestos, journals, posters, and other works during WWI.  It was new for people to utilize and understand the use of simple geometric shapes. Which reminds me of the way Instagram has influenced our use of square photos. In the same way that the photograph caused a push away from using illustration, but posters remained an active use of communication over time.



Graphic dissent / 3 characteristics: shocking, clever, even funny in a grim sort of way. It’s meaning is instantly intelligible. One of those images that awakes something in you, possessing the power of the uncanny. Great graphic design employing shock, wit, and clarity borne of urgency can move people to action. This is definitely in line with my goals as a graphic designer. I really enjoyed / began to understand better the part about religion, because that’s how I feel about absolute belief. That once we believe something, your mind is no longer open to alternatives, presenting a limitation in thinking. I think it’s important to remain skeptical and more open-minded in your every day train of thought. I understand religion can be extremely beneficial for a lot of people, so it’s just finding that happy medium to leave room for alternative ideas. Being thoughtful about how you question or threaten power was an important point. Non-violence, but generally people respond to powerful imagery and words that contain to appeal to justice. Also when he notes that the ability to enter into culture can be very costly, so providing a message that will quickly circulate. The Internet is a great tool for ideas to travel virally.

Tuesday, September 1

ds: direction for Santora's rebrand

starting to think about ideas for collateral + creating a voice


refined moodboards 


overall vibe ^ 


type feelz ^

initial sketching 











Monday, August 31

va: narrowing down + research

problem: creating equal opportunity for child development

directions:  (1) household, (2) education, (3) unification within the community

(1) household

RESEARCH: 
household (basic needs):  The 10 things kids need most: 

(1) meeting their everyday needs 
feeding them when they're hungry / keeping them warm, dry and safe from danger / helping them if they are in pain, scared or upset / providing family routines / making sure there is always someone you trust to look after them

(2) feel safe & secure
When children feel safe and secure they learn to trust other people. Children who don't feel safe can be anxious and unhappy. This can affect their health and learning. But when they learn that they can trust the adults around them, it helps them grow up happy, healthy and to enjoy the world around them.

(3) love and hugs
Hugs and cuddles help children to feel safe and comforts them. Holding your children, picking them up, sitting them on your lap, kissing and cuddling, are important.

(4) plenty of praise
Children want to please their parents. If you please them when they do well at something or are trying hard, it will make them want to do it again. Praising a child for being good will make them want to be good, and it will help them feel good about themselves. Children who feel good about themselves tend to: (learn more easily and make more efforts to achieve / get into less trouble / get on well with others / make friends more easily / feel happier and more secure)

(5) smiles
Smiling is a simple way of helping children feel happy and safe.

(6) talking
It's good to talk and sing to babies from the time they are born. A gentle voice helps your child to feel relaxed and secure. It helps them to get to know you, and to know that you are there to look after them. When you talk to your children they soon start learning words themselves. The more you talk to them, the more they will learn. They also learn more if you use proper adult words most of the time. Learning words helps them to communicate and to understand more about the world. Children with a good use of words find it easier to express themselves, to make friends, and to learn at school and at home.

Ideas of talking to your children:
a quiet time together before bed: just talking about your day / "special time"
name games: Where's your tummy? Where's the cat? / What is that?
bedtime stories: or just read books at any time.
sing: songs are a great way to learn words.
talk topic: ask them to pick a topic, and you can tell a story about it.
play 'highs and lows': if your child is a bit older, talk about the best thing and worst thing that happened that day.

(7) listening
Children ask a lot of questions as they learn to use their words. Listen carefully and do your best to answer the questions, you will show them that learning is fun. Even when kids ask for something they can't have, they need an answer and a simple explanation.

(8) learn new things
You don't need fancy toys or equipment to give your child new experiences. You can use everyday things around you, go for walks or explore the beach or park. Why not start a collection? Or walk about joining a toy library? This makes learning fun and teaches them about the world.
They need other people too - other children to play with and relationships with people of all ages.

New experiences can include simple things like:
-tell a story from your childhood
-play a game (peek a boo / I spy)
-sing a dong
-explore the house and garden
-read a book (even to babies)
-teach your kids shapes and colors
-take your kid to a friends place to visit
-praise your children for something new they did
-take your child for a walk to the park or anywhere nearby
-do some drawing, painting, or coloring
-pick up stones, look at flowers... new experiences are everywhere for kids

(9) take care of their feelings
Babies and small children can be frightened by anything new and different, when there is no real danger. A stranger, a clown, or a loud noise, can all be very scary for a toddler who is not used to them. Sometimes you might feel tempted to laugh, to tease them or to tell them 'not to be silly'. What they really need is for you to comfort them and give them a simple explanation.
This helps them feel good about themselves and feel okay about talking if they have a serious problem.

(10) rewards and special treats
All parents want their children to behave. If you give attention when they are good, it will make them want to be good more often. If you only notice them once they are naughty, it might make them want to be naughty more often. The best reward for being good is getting your time and attention. Taking them to play and have fun together doesn't have to cost money. A picnic, a walk in the park or a trip to the beach can be lots of fun. Also read with your child as a special reward or treat.

idea: make them a scrapbook
Children love stories about themselves - it helps them feel loved and important. Put things in it like a handprint, photos, things they've said, a favorite birthday card.

The Impact of the Home Environment on Children

  • "Substantial research evidence indicates that parenting and children's activities in the early years have a powerful influence on cognitive ability. Parenting practices such as reading to children, using complex language, responsiveness, and warmth in interactions, are all associated with better developmental outcomes. Stimulating activities may help children with specific skills, but also, and perhaps most importantly, by developing the child's ability and motivation concerned with learning generally..."(http://www.researchgate.net/publication/258384494_Impact_of_the_Home_Learning_Environment_on_Child_Cognitive_Development_Secondary_Analysis_of_Data_from_'Growing_Up_in_Scotland')
  • "Children exposed to chronic loud noise also experience a rise in blood pressure and stress hormones. And children as young as four are less motivated to perform on challenging language and pre-reading tasks under conditions of exposure to chronic noise." 
  • "...strained parent-child relationships negatively influence social, emotional, and biological measures in 10-to12 year-old children...parents in crowded homes speak less to their infants and use fewer complicated words during the period from infancy up to age two and a half." 
  • "Research has identified the physical characteristics of neighborhoods that significantly influence children's development. These characteristics include: residential instability, housing quality, noise, crowding, toxic exposure, quality of municipal services, retail services, recreational opportunities, including natural settings, street traffic, accessibility of transportation, and the physical quality of both educational and health facilities."
  • (http://www.human.cornell.edu/hd/outreach-extension/upload/evans.pdf)
  • "The quality and stability of a child's human relationships in the early years lay the foundation for a wide range of later developmental outcomes that really matter – self confidence and sound mental health, motivation to learn, achievement in school and later in life, the ability to control aggressive impulses and resolve conflicts in nonviolent ways, knowing the difference between right and wrong, having the capacity to develop and sustain casual friendships and intimate relationships, and ultimately to be a successful parent oneself....Stated simply, relationships are the "active ingredients" of the environment's influence on healthy human development." (http://developingchild.harvard.edu/index.php/download_file/-/view/587/)
  • TO SUM IT UP...
  • Basically, every element during child development, from the amount of loud noises and distractions there are in the home to residential environments impact children at an early age, molding their later developmental outcomes that help them succeed. 


    • Audience #1: Who are you trying to help? children who are still developing (under age 5)
    • Audience #2: Who are you trying to reach? parents and guardians 
    • Who are the stakeholders? (internal) organizations geared towards children / 
    • (external) investors/ sponsors $$
    • Who will be affected both positively and negatively? (positively) anyone within the household (negatively) people who profit from their disadvantaged situation 
    • How are these people related to the problem? children in these environments are deprived of the tools needed for success (including basic needs, exposure to wide vocabulary, being told their voice doesn't matter), thereby locking people into a certain lifestyle that encourages crime, pay gap, and broken communities.  
      • To each other? children can break out of their disadvantaged situation for the future of their families
  • What are the needs for each of your audiences? (#1 & #2)  basic needs, exposure to a wide vocabulary, encouragement,  discovery of their talents,  role models / mentors,  supportive environment,  exposure of extra activities,  resources,  self sufficient 
  • How does your idea support (or change) those needs for each? Programs inviting the parents / guardians / oldest sibling of the household to come and do learning activities with your children. Then something like recess would happen getting the kids active while the parents are educated on resumes / interviews / etc. This would be a reward system giving away food stamps for coming to help the families meet basic needs.
  • Who are you communicating this need to? community leaders 
    • Why? Because they can better communicate with community members. People within the environment will trust them and realize the importance of attending these programs.  
(2) education

Background Research
  • "The results showed that children whose homes had greater cognitive stimulation displayed higher academic motivation from ages 9 through 13. The effect of SES [socio-economic status] was indirect: Families of higher SES were more likely to provide cognitively stimulating home environments, which in turn directly increased academic motivation. The fact that home environment effects were both short- and long-term suggests that home environment continues to play a role in early adolescence when peer influence becomes more powerful." 
  • Six beliefs that can influence children's motivational beliefs:
    • attributions for the child's school performance
    • perceptions of the task difficulty of schoolwork
    • expectations and confidence in children's abilities
    • values for schoolwork
    • actual achievement standards
    • beliefs about barriers to success and strategies for overcoming these barriers
  • (http://www.education.com/reference/article/home-environment/)
  • "Children who develop warm, positive relationships with their kindergarten teachers are more excited about learning, more positive about coming to school, more self-confident, and achieve more in the classroom."
  • "Stated simply, young children learn best in an interactive, relational model rather than through an educational model that focuses on rote instruction." 
  • "...poverty reduction requires a life-cycle approach that begins during the early years before formal schooling to ensure school readiness, involves the family and other proximal contexts, and focuses on the indirect processes linking poverty to child development and educational outcomes. There are no magic bullets that can be applied across all settings. Both individual characteristics and contextual factors determine how children can benefit from educational opportunities and over the course of time, escape from poverty." (http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=psycd_fac
  • Recommendations for Future Programs and Policies to Improve Children’s Development and Educational Outcomes in the Context of Poverty: 
  • TO SUM IT UP...
  • This issue of school readiness has many factors that involve strategies by "governments, communities, and families." Overall, higher quality teachers who provide support and encouragement to their students and parents who are involved that create a good environment at home seem to have the largest impact on child development in terms of education. 

    • Audience #1: Who are you trying to help? children who are still developing (under age 5)
    • Audience #2: Who are you trying to reach? teachers, board of education 
    • Who are the stakeholders? 
    • (internal) organizations geared towards children / 
    • (external) investors/ sponsors $$ / government / education leaders 
    • Who will be affected both positively and negatively? (positively) the children, the teachers, the community (negatively) tax payers 
    • How are these people related to the problem? children & teachers in these environments are deprived of the educational resources needed for success, thereby locking people into a certain lifestyle that encourages crime, pay gap, and broken communities. 
      • To each other? If teachers were provided with the resources they needed then these children would be gaining the proper brain development and freedom of choice 
  • What are the needs for each of your audiences? #1 teachers- resources, higher pay, student teachers
  • #2 students (children)- encouragement, discovery of their talents, role models, supportive environment 
  • How does your idea support (or change) those needs for each? (1) A program where a child receives a book then once they read it, they trade with another kid in the book clubs / getting the kids to discuss their reading with each other. This would be in collaboration with local book stores (Reading Reptile). 
  • (2) Activities where kids can have fun and learn in the same process. (ex. deck of cards)
  • Who are you communicating this need to? School leaders, board of education, teachers 
    • Why? For teachers to be better informed on how to assist developing children. For the board of education encouraging improvement and advancement for primary education within public schools. 

(3) unification within the community 

RESEARCH: 

how Troost became a major divide in KC:  The 1880s were a period of economic boom for Kansas City and much of the United States. Moderately priced homes were built in the east on either side of the Paseo corridor. The homes were built on speculation, and when the economy crashed in 1890, contractors and backers panicked. Desperate for buyers, the home prices dropped, opening them up to the less-affluent African-American community. At this time many African-Americans relocated to what became "Negro Quality Hill" east of the Paseo near 24th Street due to the proximity to public transportation. Property values became a widespread concern among whites and zoning ordinances were first established and passed by the city council in 1923, in efforts to keep blacks on the east side. By 1940, the most concentrated areas of African-Americans in Kansas City were east of Troost, though there were pockets elsewhere. Prior to desegregation, Lincoln High School and its feeder junior high schools east of Troost offered the only post-elementary education to blacks, further growing the population of African-American residents in jazz district now know as 18th and Vine. In the decades before desegregation, there was another major player at work shaping the neighborhoods of Kansas City. Real estate developer J.C. Nichols was instrumental in developing the Country Club Plaza, which still reigns as a major commercial part of Kansas City and the neighborhoods that surround the area. Nichols orchestrated a "white flight" of sorts from the east side to his developments west of Troost by inducing "panic-selling" and blockbusting. In addition, Nichols' restrictive covenants all but ensured blacks and Jews would not be able to move into the Country Club Plaza. Just after Nichols' death, major changes to the public schools in Kansas City, and across the nation, became the impetus to explicitly use Troost to divide the city. In 1955, the all-white KCMO School board did not resist the Supreme Court ruling that ordered the desegregation of public schools. But, the members did manipulate attendance boundaries to ensure white schools were separated from black schools. Troost was the most obvious border. 

history of education: Inequality within the educational system dates back to the Jim Crow Laws each state enacted from 1876-1965. The state of Missouri's stated, "Separate free schools shall be established for the education of children of African descent; and it shall be unlawful for any colored child to attend any white school, or any white child to attend a colored..." 

    • Audience #1: Who are you trying to help? children who are still developing (under age 5)
    • Audience #2: Who are you trying to reach? community leaders from all backgrounds (upper-class to lower-class) 
    • Who are the stakeholders? (internal) organizations geared towards children / interracial organizations (external) investors / sponsors $$ / social personalities (kc based celebs) 
    • Who will be affected both positively and negatively? (positively) the children involved and the future of the city (negatively) ignorant upper-class that don't understand the importance of diversity. 
    • How are these people related to the problem? Everyone reinforces the idea of the divide of race within the community. Upper-class people believe that they have earned their spot in society while under privileged people don't have a way out. 
  • What are the needs for each of your audiences? awareness / education / motivation for intermingling / universal meeting place "safe zone" 
  • How does your idea support (or change) those needs for each? The goal would be to have a humbling place for both parties to meet at, so no one feels too out of place or too far from home (uncomfortable). But we know that awareness and motivation would have to come first and be quite persuasive before meeting. Writing & sharing stories with kids from outside of their community. Important to keep everything safe, no ones information confidential. 
  • Who are you communicating this need to? community leaders from all backgrounds (upper-class to lower-class) 
    • Why? To advocate the importance of a diverse lifestyle.














mx: problems + further research

Today during class we mainly worked as a group, coming up with a bunch of "problems" with our community. We decided to make it more like a mind map, making it easier to work together and build off our initial mind map. 


-no platform for local communication
-disconnect between districts 
-little historic knowledge
-public figures aren't very interactive
-disconnect between bbq lovers & vegan restaurants, not really a middle ground 
-public transportation
-colleges have little interaction with each other
-not enough local businesses / connecting with each other
-corporate companies aren't getting involved with local businesses
-east & west bottoms / so much unused space
-segregation
-not enough tourism / resources for tourist 
-KCK & KCMO are very disconnected
-expanding google fiber
-needs to have more emphasis on local events 
-recycling needs to be more accessible 
 -plaza should integrate more local stores
-age restrictions on events / locations 
-high crime
-so much abandoned space

We've started sharing photos / ideas for a moodboard on Google Drive:



And lastly we're still working on our business card to pass out: 








Sunday, August 30

mx: kc local / pride


People who are from KCMO, or even people who have just been here a few yrs (like me), love Kansas City. But they don't just love it, they embrace everything KC! Local businesses are booming, why? because they're exclusively KC. Recently people have really started to appreciate and support "home-grown" ideas so to speak. Places that interests us, are places like the Bunker who created this KCMO logo that you can now find pretty much anywhere on anything around the city. It's gone viral, from shirts, to stickers, to full car windows, and even tattoos. And that's just one example of how KCMO really has this "mob mentality." But not in the negative way we see on the internet, in like an extremely positive and beneficial way! Anyways, we wanna set up interviews to the people behind the ideas: our local business owners / managers,  and give them a chance to share their start up stories and how this KC pride has impacted them or the city as a whole. We're planning on holding video interviews with these people to (1) further our research & (2) be apart of a kick-off video we create as one aspect of the project. We imagine this video as being the splash pg to the website and/or something that we could share via social media to get the word out about this new spot to find everything KC. Also,  just to get people excited to be apart of this great city. 

what we're working on right now: 

1. "business card"
So we realize that we're gonna have to find people that are interested and feel comfortable working with us or being interviewed / video taped. So the first step for us was to create a "business card" / "informational card" to give out to all the local businesses we hope to collaborate with. This way they have all of our information to contact us / as well as a little project bio so they can remember what we are trying to do. We know it's hard juggle lots of things, so let's make it as easy as possible for them to work with us. We also created a new email address just for this project. That way they don't have 3 separate contact info to deal with and it will keep us more organized.  This design is still in the works, but we hope to have it printed as soon as possible so we can start gathering research and information.

2. researching / planning for video interview
With 3 people in a group and who knows how many interviewees, we all want to get comfortable with the camera / filming / interviewing process, as we know our schedules will not all meet all the time. So we're planning on having test runs and a consistent list of questions to ask during the interview. 

research:

  • 5 Quick Video Interview Tips for Beginners 
    • #1: framing the subject 
      • be sure to keep the shot tight on the interviewee, typically keeping the space between the subjects head and the top of the video relatively minimal
    • #2: lighting
      • lighting should never be at the interviewee's back. The prominent light(s) should be behind the camera or off the side. Lighting can make or break your video.
    • #3: sound
      • an interview video without good audio from the speaker is worthless. try to find a quite place where background noise is at a minimum. for more advance users, external microphones are the best way to go.
    • #4: use a tripod
    • #5: getting a sound byte
      • For those moments when you'd like to mash up portions of your interview with some b-roll, have the subject repeat the question back so they appear to have a complete and natural thought which can easily be incorporated with other content. 
  • How to Create a Quality Background
    • You want the background to be visually interesting without becoming a distraction that competes with the speaker on the screen
    • When you arrive on location for the interview, one of your first priorities is to select the room where you'll be shooting the interview. Most likely, your best background is in one of the corners. 
      • the distance from one corner of a room to the opposite corner is the furthest distance you can have between the camera and the background behind your subject 
      • including corners in the background means that you'll have diagonal lines in the frame which are more interesting than straight lines. 
      • pick a corner for background then place the camera in the opposite corner, all the way across the room, as far away from your background corner as you can get. This distance is important for controlling depth-of-field. 
    • placing your interviewee
      • place their chair several feet in front of the background, a nice distance away. If you're half-way across the room, you're probably too far. Play around according to your specific location.
      • this creates 2 zones for lighting. zone 1 is the lighting on the subject and zone 2 is the lighting on the background. If there's good separation between zone 1 and 2, it' easier to prevent spill light from each zone from contaminating the other. 
      • the distance allows you to blur out the background, adding further visual interest depth, and reducing distractions. 
    • blur the background: reduce depth-of-field
      • place the camera far from the background and subject. We've already accomplished this by placing the camera in the far corner of the room.
      • open the aperture on your camera lens as wide open as possible. (this means you should use the lowest F-stop number) 
      • zoom in to frame your subject. the more you zoom in, the longer your focal length, and the more blur you'll see in the background.
    • put the background light on a dimmer
      • it's a good idea to use a separate light with the sole purpose of illuminating the background. but you definitely don't want the background too bright, more on the darker side.
      • when you dim a tungsten light, the color temperature becomes warmer (redder). If you feel that it's too red, you can put a CTB (color temperature blue) color gel over the light to compensate a bit. 
    • color gel add style to backgrounds
      • although splashes of color aren't necessarily realistic, they certainly change the overall mood and style of the image 
      • the deeper, richer colors make the biggest impact 
      • you can dramatically change the look of the image, simply by adding color gel to your light
      • **don't risk making your own flammable versions
    • add more style with a cookies