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8 minute read

Getting to Know Our Students of Storytelling Winners Part 2

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!

Billy Schuerman

College/University – University of Mississippi
Age – 21

1 – How did you first get interested in photography?

I started taking photos in high school when I joined the newspaper staff but did not seriously start to consider the possibility of being a photographer until I started getting more and more work as a photographer for my college paper.

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

I enjoy the inherent creativity involved in portrait work, but landscape photography gives me the opportunity to look at a scene and document it in a way that others would not normally. Sports photography is also up there because of the thrill of being on the sidelines so close to the action as it is happening.

3 – What do you find most challenging about photography?

The creativity required to be even just an adequate photographer can be taxing but when a shot pans out exactly as you see it in your head, there are not many feelings any sweeter.

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

My favorite image might be from a basketball game I covered just as a last minute decision. I decided about an hour before the game I would go assist one of the staff photographers I sent to the game as their second or third assignment – it would also give me a chance to try a few things I had been thinking about. I spent the whole first half playing with the settings to get it just right and I got a few that looked identical but for one reason or another it didn’t work for me. Luckily, I got this one and it has been one of my favorite shots since.

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

The bottom line for me is that I produce good work and tell an important story. It is fun to go take photos of my friends and all that but the reason I really got into photography is because there are so many important stories out there that need to have even just a little bit of light shined on them.

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

Support your local newspaper!

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Sophia Li

College/University – Duke University
Age – 21

1 – How did you first get interested in photography?

I became interested in photography through my dad. My dad owned a DSLR, and I remember thinking his camera was the coolest toy when I was younger. I always wanted to fiddle around with it. I was so excited when I got my first own camera sometime in elementary school—it was this bright pink, plastic Barbie film camera. I took photos of everything with it—from the white spirea shrub in my front yard to flamingos at the zoo. I even had a small album book to hold prints of my favorite photos.

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

I love shooting landscape photography. Growing up in the forests of New England in a family that loves to hike, I have always been drawn to nature. There’s just something so breathtaking about being surrounded by the mountains, trees, and water. To be able to capture that feeling of awe in nature through a photo is truly special.

3 – What do you find most challenging about photography?

The most challenging part about photography for me is taking photos of strangers. I am still working on engaging with my subjects on a personal level so that I can authentically portray their identities. Establishing a connection with my subjects and making sure that everyone is on the same page is crucial. When I am taking photos of someone that I just met for the first time, it can be hard not to feel like an intrusive outsider.

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

My favorite image I’ve shot is a photo of my friend leaping across a stream of water while mudflat hiking in the Wadden Sea off the coast of Germany. It was my first time mudflat hiking—and one of the most intense nature-immersive adventures I’ve been on in my life. The Wadden Sea mudflat is the largest unbroken system of mudflats in the world. Hiking across the sea, it feels like the mudflats extend to eternity around you. As the tide rises, you’re literally walking across water. At some points, the water comes up as high as your waist. The sun was just beginning to set behind the clouds at the time I took this photo, reflecting off the water in a way that made the whole mudflat glow. My friend and I were both exhausted with bloody cuts on our feet, but with the ominous clouds looming in the sky above us and the dark mudflats beneath us, I knew I had to whip out my camera. I asked my friend to jump across a stream for me, and he obliged. This image was the result. I just love how dramatic the image feels—it captures how awesome the whole experience was.

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

I believe images are one of the most powerful communication mediums. By telling stories through photography, I hope to inspire people to pay more attention to their connection to others by challenging their stereotypes about the world. Relating to my current project, I cannot wait to share my passion for sustainable farming and food systems with the rest of the world. Finally, I am excited to be a part of such a supportive community of talented student photographers. Each student’s project and photography style are so unique; I look forward to following along on everyone’s journeys as their stories unfold.

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

Even though I have been taking photos since I was little, I had never really considered myself a photographer until last year. I guess I just never thought that I was good enough or that anybody would actually care about my photos. I had this ridiculous idea that to be a photographer, you had to be this high-brow, super artsy individual. I study neuroscience at college, so everyone has always known me as a science-y person. This past year, though, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and start sharing my photography online. It was nerve-wracking at first—I would spend hours trying to decide whether or not to post a photo—, but the feedback and encouragement I received was incredible. Photography is such a big part of who I am, so I’m thrilled to be able to pursue this project with Fujifilm.

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Nivi Shaham

College/University – University of California, Davis
Age – 20

1 – How did you first get interested in photography?

When I was about 12 years old I watched my mom take up photography as a hobby. She’d lug around a big black DSLR and photograph the essence of the world around her, and I was intrigued to say the least. About a year later, at 13, I bought myself a Canon Rebel T3i, without the consent of my mother who believed that I wasn’t going to be serious about photography as a 13 year old teen, and began recruiting friends to model for me. Since then, I haven’t stopped photographing!

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

My photographic preferences have changed over the years, beginning with landscape photography, moving to portraiture, and now food photography. I find that food photography is my absolute favorite because of the vibrance, warmth, and story that can be portrayed through a beautifully styled dish.

3 – What do you find most challenging about photography?

Photography is a very creative art, but in the same regard it’s a very technical art. The technological aspects pertaining to camera usage, post processing programs and software, file types, color calibration, etc. are definitely the most challenging parts for me. They require lots of research and attention, but in the end are very fulfilling once understood.

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

My favorite image I’ve shot thus far is a photo of me draping handmade pasta over my hand, with a moody background and light foreground. This shot was incredibly fun to take, as I got to cook handmade pasta, and subsequently play with it for the photo. I also loved being in the photograph, and seeing my hands, the ones that created the image, also being displayed in it. The photo will be hung up in an Italian restaurant soon, and I am very proud to have taken it.

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

Students of Storytelling has enabled me to think beyond what I think I’m capable of. With the backing of Fujifilm I’ve been able to think bigger in terms of what I am photographically capable of. I hope to learn that big, scary projects, can be accomplished even when I believe it to be too difficult.

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

When I first entered the photography world, I never anticipated that it could be a long term career for me. I tried small paid shoots in high school with friends who wanted senior portraits, and felt that I lost all my creative integrity through the process. This clouded my mind for many years and made me believe I could never make a living from my photography because it wouldn’t be fulfilling. Now, however, I have realized that it’s not all types of photography that make me feel that way. My food photography inspires me and engages me, and makes me feel like I’m at my creative peak. This new feeling occurs whether I’m being paid for my work or not, and that’s how I’ve learned that photography is my life, my career, and my passion.

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