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10 minute read

Getting to know our Students of Storytelling Winners Part 5

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!

Gabriella Wyke

College/University – Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta (recently graduated May 2020)
Age – 24

1 – How did you first get interested in photography?

I was first introduced to photography when I was in the 10th grade. My family had migrated from Trinidad and Tobago to Canada in 2010 where I was taught photography formally for the first time. During that class I was exposed to dark room development and pinhole photography and fell in love with the magic of it all. At a parent-teacher conference that same year my photography teacher convinced my parents to get me a camera, which they did, and I have been making pictures ever since. I loved it so much that I dedicated 3 years to studying at the college level and now have my BFA in photography.

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

Whenever I am asked this question I can never settle on just one answer. What I do know is that I love people and I love being around them, so I quite enjoy taking portraits and being able to interact with the subject. However that can be translated into many forms of photography. Currently I am happily stuck in a black and white aesthetic phase, not because I do not enjoy color anymore, but because I feel that black and white forces the viewer to work hard to get to know the story. The work I am focusing on currently is meant to get the viewer involved with the subject’s issues, so black and white photography is definitely a deliberate choice. Documentary photography is also something that I am drawn to right now and was actually my concentration in college. This style of shooting often involves the preferences that I mentioned before; people, portraits, and the black and white aesthetic. Documentary work also tends to have the most longevity in terms how much the work can grow. It is unpredictable and I learn so much during the process but whether it is on the street or in someone’s home, the story itself is my first priority.

3 – What do you find most challenging about photography?

The most challenging thing about photography for me has been to know when to let go of my ideal story or ideal way of photographing. I think that photography in the last 10 years has evolved so much that everyone has a camera and can become photographer in an instant. With that being said, there is also not any one way to photograph either. Being a photography student has opened up my perspective so much, but also taught me that the perfect image is not always the most successful image. It does not necessarily matter how well I can frame an image, or balance my tones correctly, but it matters if the image as a whole gets the point across in the most successful way. Sometimes getting fixated on a dream to the point when you do not allow it to grow can stifle a body of work so I have been working through ways to not be too attached.

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

My favorite image right now has to come from “The Letter” which is the documentary I am currently working on and sharing through Students of Storytelling. It is an image that is so full of lessons, symbolism and one that encourages relevant conversation. As mentioned before I have a thing for black and white images at the moment, so that would definitely be one of the reasons why I love it. This image also reminds me of a continuous narrative which is a technique used in religious paintings of the 17th century. It often shows two scenes that are connected in one frame but scenes that are happening simultaneously, though the image I have chosen is clearly meant to be presented as one, I cannot help but see two different scenes if I split it down the middle. On one side we have the younger generation actively fighting, while the older men and coaches mentor them from the ring. This photo for me, shows a realistic portrait of the black male community. On the other hand it serves as a genre painting (an image that shows regular people doing regular things). That is all black men want to be seen as; regular, normal, just human.

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

I am hoping to make a lot of long lasting connections with the other storytellers who already are quite magnificent! This is because I believe in community. In Trinidad and Tobago, where I am from, family and community is an integral part of our culture. Being on your own can be empowering and liberating in many ways, but when you grow with a community of like-minded people who are on the same mission as you, the growth and knowledge you gain is invaluable. I am also looking forward to learning from the Fujifilm team. As a leading competitor in the photography industry, I am positive that whatever advice and mentorship they have to offer will be exceptional.

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

I would like to say thank you in advance for paying attention and listening to what I have to say through my work. This is the best and my favorite way to communicate and I want to be able to share my stories with everyone! I hope that by looking and listening, your heart becomes engaged with the men portrayed in this documentary.

 

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Caleb Jacobson

College/University – Portland Community
Age – 19

1 – How did you first get interested in photography?

Before I got into photography, I expressed my creativity through watercolor painting. When I entered high school, I discovered my love for climbing and for the pristine wild places of the Pacific Northwest. As a result, I wanted a way to communicate my awe and passion for these special places, and photography was just that. I was quickly immersed in the craft and it became an integral and important part of my ventures into the wilderness. 

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

I consider myself a landscape/adventure photographer. Since my stoke lies in the outdoors, I am constantly hiking, climbing and exploring in the backcountry. Instead of limiting myself to shooting only the beautiful landscapes I encounter, my inspiration comes from capturing our human interactions and experiences in nature. Adding a human element to my photos allows me to tell a broader story and show the scale of the landscape. 

3 – What do you find most challenging about photography?

I love the challenge of creating images with a deeper meaning and story. It is easy to go out and create photographs of stunningly lit landscapes but making an image that has more intention and purpose is my goal. 

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

Hands down my most prized image has to be my photo, “Glimpse of Greatness”, from the Peruvian Andes. During the summer of 2019 I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Peru with the local Portland youth mountaineering organization, Post 58. We spent 3 weeks trekking through the mountains and climbing a nearly 19,000 ft peak. I took the photo on our descent from a successful summit of Nevado Pisco in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. I saw the image lining up as Megan gazed up at the surrounding peaks and quickly snapped the shot. To me this image represents the wonder and reverence we as humans have for nature and how dwarfed we are by it. 

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

Students of Storytelling is giving me, and all of us, a distinct platform to share meaningful stories with the world. I hope that this opportunity not only allows me to bring light to the conservation issues detailed in my own project but also learn and draw inspiration from my peers as they build their own stories. 

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

My dream is to pursue and combine commercial and conservation photography as a way to connect people and products to places worth preserving. I’m looking forward to this journey… 

 

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Ben Yan

College/University – Penn State University
Age – 21

1 – How did you first get interested in photography?

I started taking pictures with disposables when I was growing up in China. I couldn’t have been older than six or seven years old. Soon enough, I became the de-facto family photo-taker until I moved out for high school. Last year, I started taking photography more seriously and began studying the impact of light and color. The process of visualizing an image in my head and then using the camera to make it come to life is one that I’ve fallen head over heels for. 

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

I enjoy all different types of photography, but when I am doing street photography I feel the most “in the zone”. I’m someone that is usually distracted very easily; my mind tends to wander erratically. However, when I have a camera with me on the street, I’m entirely present, and using all my senses to look for the right combination of light, color, and subjects to make that perfect image. This process turns street corners and alleyways into potential canvases to explore, rather than places quickly passed by and ignored. It makes my everyday tasks exciting and full of opportunity. 

3 – What do you find most challenging about photography?

Time! With school and a job, it can be difficult to find time to go through the entire photographic process. 

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

There are a lot of photos I’ve taken that evoke nostalgia for great memories. One of them was taken during New Year’s Eve of 2019 in a small beach town on the coast of Ecuador. I was travelling with a group of friends that I had met after arriving in Ecuador, and we had really bonded in our short two weeks of hiking and living together. This photo was one of my favorites from the trip, and looking at it reminds me of the memories my travel buddies and I shared. Technically, it combines a lot of what I love about nature and photography itself. Sunset is my favorite time of day, and the combination of people and wildlife in a pleasing composition made it one of those images where everything just came together perfectly. 

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

Having never studied photography formally, I’m super excited about having a community of photographers to share our work and grow with. Specifically with my work, I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn and experiment with new ways to connect the dots in my stories. Being a travelling street photographer, my inspiration is often influenced by the environment that I find myself in. I hope this program will help me discover a common thread through my work that will propel me to find greater purpose and motivation to create more images in the future. 

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

I’m not only a huge fan of Fujifilm’s digital products (I’ve used over 10 different X – Series cameras for my work), I love the analog side of photography as well. My favorite film stocks are Superia 400 and Super HQ 200 which is sadly no longer in production. I’m a sucker for conversations about anything photography related, feel free to DM me on instagram or find me at my website at benyanphotography.com !

 

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