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7 minute read

Getting to know our Students of Storytelling Winners Part 4

Our Students of Storytelling program is in full swing, and our winners are actively creating some compelling content. See below to learn a bit more about our student winners!

Erin Haar

College/University – University of California
Age – 21

1 – How did you first get interested in photography?

I first got interested in photography as a young kid. When I visited my grandparents in Fresno, CA in the summers, my grandpa would show me how to use his camera to take photos of the scenery. Though he passed away during my childhood, I decided many years later to take an introductory photography class my junior year of high school. I wanted to see if it was something I truly wanted to pursue, and I loved the space it gave me to express my thoughts and emotions (both good and bad) in a creative way. I have continued taking photos ever since! 

2 – What’s your favorite type of photography to shoot? (street, landscape, portrait, etc.) Why?

I don’t have a favorite type of photography specifically, but in every image I try to capture some kind of human activity or emotion. That could range from street photography with someone walking in the distance to a photo from a basketball game. In the past couple years I have focused a lot on creative portraits, but it’s important for me to mix up my style frequently while still capturing powerful emotions or concepts. 

3 – What do you find most challenging about photography?

What I find most difficult about photography is executing the creative ideas I have with minimal equipment. Though I am very grateful to attend college, I have been trying to save money and only spend on my basic necessities, which does not include new gear. Part of why I am so excited for this opportunity with Fujifilm is because I can’t wait to try out new equipment and see how the execution of my ideas will improve. 

4 – What’s your favorite image you’ve shot, and why?

My favorite image that I’ve shot is this photo I took in Morro Bay, CA in November of 2019. My family and I travel to Morro Bay for vacations frequently, and on this trip I really made an effort to take lots of photos. I love this photo because of how prominent Morro Rock is, how detailed the sky is, and most importantly, how the family on the left stands out despite how small they are in the photo. 

5 – What are you hoping to take away from Students of Storytelling?

I’m hoping that I will walk away from the Students of Storytelling experience with more confidence in my technical abilities and in my storytelling. Executing a self portrait series will hopefully push me to find new ways to use my gear and plan for shoots. I also hope that in sharing the story of my hometown of Thousand Oaks, CA, I will be more empowered to present similar emotions and issues in my future work. 

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Max Correa

College/University – Appalachian State University
Age – 21

1 – How did you first get interested in photography?

My parents were both avid hobbyists when they were my age; I started fiddling with my dad’s DSLR when I turned 12, lost interest for a few years, and resparked my interest when I could afford my own camera in college.

2 – What’s your favorite type of photography to shoot? (street, landscape, portrait, etc.) Why?

While I love nature photography and portraits, photojournalism is my favorite type. It requires photographers to be able to tell a story, and to have the ability to make mundane or otherwise uninteresting parts of life interesting.

3 – What do you find most challenging about photography?

Lighting and posing for portrait work. As a biochemistry student, I don’t have as much access to a studio or off-camera flash, or the benefits they can bring to training in photography. Because of this, a lot of my work relies on natural lighting, which can be either a benefit or a hindrance to my work. Likewise, most portraits I make are for a newspaper or of my close friends, so the posing is either entirely organic or based off a half-baked idea.

4 – What’s your favorite image you’ve shot, and why?

This past December I was coming out of a rough patch in my life; my parents had surprised my sister and I with their impending divorce, I was getting out of a very toxic  relationship, and I was dealing with the most difficult final exams I’d ever taken. When I realized I needed to take some time for myself, I packed my camera bag and tent, hiked 2 hours into Pisgah National Forest, and spent 2 nights there to do some introspection. The second day I was there, I woke up at 4 AM, waited until just before sunrise, and started shooting. The image reminds me of that trip and reminds me to always do what I should to find balance when I need it.

5 – What are you hoping to take away from Students of Storytelling?

My biggest hopes for Students of Storytelling are to expand the worldview of others, as well as my own, by sharing the stories being told by other participants. Alongside this, I’d like to help curate a healthy environment for creatives, and to change some of the stigmas surrounding Appalachia.

Bonus question – Is there anything else you’d like Fujifilm fans to know about you or your photography?

I have a few other hobbies, some of which are related to my project; in particular, I love hiking, woodworking, and am teaching myself basic fermentation science, especially for making wine, pickles, and ginger beer. Also, another project I’d love to do in the future would be to document and humanize religious minorities around the world.

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Ram Bhadra

College/University – UC Hastings College of the Law 
Age – 25

1 – How did you first get interested in photography?

I have always had an interest in photography from a young age, and finally got a camera for my birthday in junior year of high school in 2012. Since 2012 I have owned several Canon DSLRs, but I really began to clearly understand and define my own style of photography once I purchased a Fujifilm X100F in 2018. 

2 – What’s your favorite type of photography to shoot? (street, landscape, portrait, etc.) Why?

My favorite style of shooting would be street portraits. I enjoy shooting people in their natural habitats going about their lives, because that is when they are the most comfortable. Without the pressure of knowing that there is a camera on them, and even for me personally not having the burden of taking a specific type of portrait helps me capture people in their raw essence, which is when they are the most beautiful. 

3 – What do you find most challenging about photography?

I struggle with two things; the first would be stopping people and asking them for their portraits. Even though I previously mentioned I enjoy shooting people without putting them under the pressure that their photo is being taken, I do want to have a deeper meaning behind my portraits, which I think would be possible if I would have a slightly longer talk with each individual. The second thing that I struggle with is creating a unique style of editing. I believe that I do have unique style of shooting, but I am unable to settle of a unique editing style that would help my photos standout. 

4 – What’s your favorite image you’ve shot, and why?

Last year, I shot a portrait of two women in Pondicherry, India, and it is my favorite photo because their blue sarees are a perfect complement to the yellow wall behind them. They are also laughing uncontrollably in that photo as they are amused by my inability to speak Tamil. In that moment I was in a unique position of simultaneously being an Indian shooting fellow Indians but also someone who could communicate with these wonderful people through my camera and hand gestures. 

5 – What are you hoping to take away from Students of Storytelling?

I am hoping to be able to help others feel a sense of connection with the world the same way I do while I shoot. After struggling with my LSAT and law school rejections in 2018, I felt ashamed and isolated from the world, until I purchased my Fujifilm X100F, and began shooting again. Taking photos of individuals helped me feel like a worthy part of the world despite my failures. I want to help others through my project of taking their photos and capturing them doing something that makes them feel like themselves again, reminding my subjects that despite our perceived shortcomings, we are all worthy members of society. 

Bonus question – Is there anything else you’d like Fujifilm fans to know about you or your photography?

My photos are usually captured mid-activity; of people speaking or doing something, and hence are not the most perfect composed shots, but try to capture us being our normal selves. 

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