Aaron Siskind once said, “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” While I do not shoot in film, photography is one of my most prevalent passions. It is an art form unlike any other. I fully believe that photographs do not only capture images, but moments in time that can be remembered forever.
You always hear about people who turn their hobbies into careers. I just never thought I would be one of them. I have been taking pictures as a hobby for eight years, but I have only been shooting professionally since June of 2011 when I established my business, AQ Photography. My first photo shoot was of two adorable children that belong to a family friend of mine. Since the photographs turned out so well, I decided to advertise myself as a portrait photographer as well as a freelance photographer. Over the years I have found that I mainly take portraits, but I have also dabbled in weddings, real estate, nature, advertisement, vehicular, and merchandising photography as well.
I want my photographs to be able to change the way people look at the world. Here in the United States, high school girls are placed under so much pressure by society to follow trends and be popular, but they also are subjected to the media telling them that they are not attractive if they are not a size two. This fact has genuinely affected the way that I take photographs. I hold an annual photo shoot entitled “Beautifully Insane” in which girls of all shapes, sizes, and races come together to do take pictures and feel beautiful about themselves, exactly the way that they are. I also have started a collection of photographs that depict the social issues that students face in high school. So far I have captured pictures that represent bullying and eating disorders, and I plan to take more in the near future. While high school students may be told to be nice to their fellow students and lectured at on the dangers of eating disorders, I feel that capturing those issues in a photograph allows the viewer to see that these are not some trivial idea that they are forced to learn in the classroom. I hope that having the world see the consequences first hand can allow the viewer to gain perspective and make good choices in high school.
In the past four years, I have worked over 400 hours in this profession. I have landed freelance jobs with local boutiques for advertisements, won several Best of Show awards for my photography in the county fair, been selected to exhibit my work in art shows and a museum, and won third-place in the statewide “Got Milk?” photography contest. I was featured as a petite model and as a photographer in a two-page spread of the August 2014 edition of Petite Magnifique magazine, won a student art show merit award, and I have created my own website to showcase my work. Along with advertising on my business’ social media pages on a weekly basis, I usually photograph at least eight events or portrait sessions a month, and I am also the Student Life photographer at my high school.
Starting up and running my own business has been an extraordinary and fulfilling experience. But, while I have accomplished much in the past four years, I do not participate in photography for the money or the prestige. I do it because I truly love it. In a world in which media is such a huge factor of our lives, I can connect with people through the art of photography. Having this talent has allowed me to not only experience what it is like to have a job, but also to be my own boss. It has taught me responsibility, improved my communication skills, and allowed me to practice management.
Next year I plan to attend a 4-year college, most likely California State University-Chico. I will continue running my business not only through next year, but hopefully for the rest of my life. I am proud of what I have accomplished so far, and I am excited for what the future holds for me as a photographer.
This essay was written by Amy Quinto, 1 of 10 finalists for the SuretyBonds.com Small Business Success Student Scholarship Program. Amy and the other finalists were selected from more than 1300 applications reviewed by the SuretyBonds.com Scholarship Committee. Three of the finalists will win a $1,500 scholarship to be used toward furthering their education. To vote for Amy or any of the other finalists, visit the SuretyBonds.com Small Business Success Student Scholarship voting app on Facebook.