Ian Baker

BA Honors | Photography


I’m originally from Chester, Virginia, and am a fifth year in the Reilly Dual Degree Program. I will be receiving a B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a concentration in Biomolecular Engineering as well as a B.A. Honors in Studio Art with a concentration in Photography upon graduation in May. My primary hobby is photography, and I often find myself occupying my free time with a camera in my hand. Outside of that though, I enjoy rock climbing and attending concerts! My inspiration as an artist primarily resides in my upbringing in south-central Virginia and is supplementally informed by the changing social and political landscape of the global community. Recently, much of my work has focused on challenging traditional societal expectations of how men should communicate about their mental health.


My thesis seeks to characterize the process of reflection and action regarding mental health through combining different photographic techniques. By using long exposure photography and high-speed flash photography together, I hope to encapsulate an emotional portrait by using the physical figure in a true expression of humanity. My work asks the question: How do I talk to myself in situations where I’m feeling unheard, unseen, or unwell? By first learning how you talk to yourself in these moments, you open yourself to discussing these struggles with those around you. With this project, my desire is to encapsulate the emotions that accompany this recognition, reminding the viewer that there is beauty in struggle, and that struggle offers an opportunity to grow – for yourself and for those around you. 

This project allowed me to rethink and redefine the idea of a portrait as I am urging the viewer to ask themselves about the way in which they present themselves to the world, and whether or not it accurately reflects their true emotional state. I also seek to make the point that it is okay to be vulnerable in your reflection of yourself to others – that there is strength in this vulnerability. This is not just my project; it’s a collective conversation that lacks concluding remarks. More than anything, though, it’s a reminder that you are not alone.

The journey through mental health is a long one that has no true ending. I find myself in the midst of my personal travel through this space, though this is not something I’ve always been comfortable discussing. I hope to normalize this conversation through my work, and encourage those around me to assist me in that process.

“talking to myself”