Student photographers shed light on the world behind the lens

Matthew Wong, Features Writer

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Snap. the photo has finally been taken, perfectly recording that moment of time. Whether it is a phone or a camera, there are infinite possibilities for capturing photos everywhere.

With 2400 students at RM, many enjoy some photography in their free time, using Instagram and Facebook to showcase their work. Seniors Addie Carr and Vi Le have been taking RM’s photography course for all four years of high school, while junior Lucas Suzuki is entirely self-taught, researching the art through blogs and instructional videos. While they all share a love of photography, Le, Carr and Suzuki have different approaches.

Senior Addie Carr enjoys photography due to how photos are everlasting. “I feel like there are a lot of things that motivate me to pursue photography,” Carr said. “The biggest thing would be how you can take a picture that can last a long time and look back at those pictures and have an automatic memory.“Many different subjects and techniques all blend together to form Carr’s photography style. “I love portraiture but… I most[ly] take pictures of landscape and I really love finding graffiti and taking pictures of the graffiti,” Carr said.

Specifically regarding graffiti photography, Carr admires how each piece is carefully crafted by the artist. “If you look closely enough at graffiti,” Carr said, “you will find a story and you will realize what the person was thinking about when they did it.” Taking pictures of graffiti also allows her to put her own spin on the art. “I feel like someone can see the art through a different eye,” Carr said.

A big source of inspiration for Carr is photojournalist Scott Strazzante, a Pulitzer winning reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. She said, “I met him a couple of years ago and learned about his most recent project, ‘Common Ground’.” Carr tries to implement some of the ideas she gets from Strazzante within her own work.

Senior Vi Le, also a fourth-year photography student, loves the process of preparing for that perfect shot and believes photography helps unlock her creativity. “I love the whole process from the planning to taking the pictures to the editing, all of it!” Le said. “It leaves a lot of room for imagination and to be creative.”

In her own work, Le likes to define her work by adding other elements to her photos. “I have been experimenting with different props like glitter, flour, and feathers in combination with a model,” she said.

For her, inspiration comes not from one photographer, but rather a blend of many different things that she likes. “I pull little things here and there that catch my eye from just scrolling on the internet and take the aspects I like and do my own take on them,” Le said.

In a recent project, Le has been experimenting with using powder paints, where photographers us it to achieve different airy effects.  “I came across powered paint being used in some video and thought it looked cool,” she said. However, as she progressed, Le made some changes to the original idea. “I went to go buy the powered paint only to find that none of the places I went I had it in stock so I resorted to using flour.” In the end, she took inspiration from the internet but ended up creating her own perspective on the concept.

When they’re excited about the pictures, I get happy too.”

— Lucas Suzuki

Junior Lucas Suzuki prefers to focus on highlighting the faces and bodies of different people. “It’s usually the feedback I get from the people I’m taking the pictures for or of,” Suzuki said. “When they’re excited about the pictures, I get happy too.”

As Suzuki gains more experience in photography, he also likes to look back on his past work. “It’s nice to see my improvements over time,” Suzuki said, “I can look back at my older photos and see how much I got better.” In addition to simply reflecting on the past, Suzuki likes to improve on his previous work. “It’s also nice to be able to go back to older photos and be able to create something better out of them with the editing skills I’ve acquired over time,” Suzuki said.

With Suzuki, his influences often stem from various photographers on social media, “Definitely, Peter McKinnon and Brandon Woelfel are big influences,” Suzuki said. Specifically, he admires their work ethic and how it almost forces him to continue improving. “The energy they put into their work drags me to do better myself!” Suzuki said, “They’re on the grind every day and it’s really motivating.”

As each student develops their photography skills, they have also started to look towards their own futures within the field. Suzuki said, “A short term goal would be to gain more experience. Once I get that, I can start doing bigger events and possibly do photography as a main business, if not as a side.”

Many of their goals all boiled down to continuing their craft. Le said, “I think I’d like to be able to keep taking pictures since I do enjoy it. Maybe also broaden my experience with photography when I get the chance to and just have fun with it!”