Student photographers find passion behind camera

Allie Keim | The Chronicle

With the click of a camera, Mason High School (MHS) students capture moments for others and new perspectives for themselves.

These students, being mostly self-taught and learning the basics of photography through basic instruction, have discovered their love for the art of photography and created their own businesses they wish to preserve throughout their futures. 

Junior Ella Fernandes first got into photography in March 2020 during COVID. Out of boredom she picked up her dad’s camera and snapped pictures of blooming flowers. In an attempt to deepen her skill level, Fernandes said journeyed into many different realms of photography.

“When I started I mainly took photos of nature, flowers, birds and sometimes my brother,” Fernandes said. “Now I do different events. I take photos for nonprofits such as Live Like Maya and Spectrum Empowerment.”

Using her photography skills and prior work experience with different nonprofit organizations, Fernandes has grown her business at many events, where she said she has enjoyed all her interactions with attendees. 

“The founder of the Live Like Maya Foundation Bonnie Collins reached out to me,” Fernandes said. “She had seen my photos and asked if I was interested in taking photos at their event, which is how I began taking photos for nonprofits.”

Photo contributed by Nathan Stevens
An action shot of a girls basketball
game captured by Nathan Stevens

Junior Nathan Stevens, a sports photographer and videographer, has learned the importance of patience through his time with a camera. Being paid by student athletes and the MHS Football team, he said he has formulated a method to produce high quality content. 

“Before I even take the picture or video, I come up with a script of what I want the video to look like,” Stevens said. “For pictures, I’m thinking of good action shots of people or how I am going to arrange them. Once you [make a plan], it is a lot easier during the editing process.”

These student photographers are tasked with capturing real time moments with people as their subjects. In taking photos for non-profit organizations, Fernandes has had to direct event patrons to fit her shots. Through these events she said she has developed many skills to connect with people and execute her artistic visions. 

“When you’re directing someone for a headshot or a personal photo, you have to be engaging with them,” Fernandes said. “To help [them pose] I advise them to think of something fun or imagine you’re in a certain scenario. This helps to start conversations and just alleviates any boring moments.”

Photo by Becca Hunter
Senior Phillip Chasse works on a photoshoot outside of Mason High School.

Senior Phillip Chasse found his love for photography in Photography I, where he learned basic techniques for taking photos. This year he has ventured into taking senior photos, as well as photos from his travels. Chasse said he is always working to improve his ability. 

“Lighting is really important,” Chasse said. The lighting you create can have a dramatic effect on a photo. If it’s really dramatic on someone you can see that. Lighting is something that I’m continuing to work on in my photos, along with other skills.”

While taking photos on a daily basis does occasionally make it difficult for these student photographers to stay fueled with ideas, Stevens said he has different methods for finding inspiration for his work.

“When I get into a creative drought, I will ask other photographers, look for inspiration on YouTube or search up new fun things to take pictures of,” Stevens said. “I go out, take the pictures and edit them, so that hopefully I learn something new.”

Photography provides students a creative outlet to foster outside of school. Fernandes said she sees photography as a beneficial hobby that allows her a break from worrying about the stresses of school. 

“I think if you’re focused a lot on your grades, it kind of gets to your head and you start developing your self-worth around that,” Fernandes said. “If you have other ways of being creative or ways to show your talents, it can help out your mental health and self-image. It also just gives you a nice break from school.”

The opportunities that come with pursuing photography have given these students many new perspectives on the world. Chasse said he believes photography allows people to gain a deeper understanding of their surroundings that they might not have noticed otherwise. 

“When you pursue something that you really love, you can take it through the rest of your life,” Chasse said. “Photography is everywhere. It is everywhere you look. You can look at everything and you can make it a really good photo.”