Guest Post: Digital Photography Student Emilee Zaitsoff, Kelowna

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Hello world! My name is Emilee Zaitsoff and I am a 3rd Quarter Digital Photography student here at the Centre for Arts and Technology in Kelowna.

I graduated from high school in Nelson, BC in 2006. Back then I sure didn’t know what to do with my life, so I did what most kids at my school were doing and went to University… or, in my case, not quite. I took two years of writing classes at Selkirk College, and started a few online writing courses when I finished those. Halfway through those courses I landed a job at the local paper, the Nelson Daily News, and promptly dropped out of school. I worked my way up to an awesome position where I was responsible for laying out the daily paper. While I was there, I started getting really into photography, and bought my first DSLR.

Right away I was into doing music photography and started taking photos at events around town. The editors saw some of my photos and hired me on as a freelancer to do event photography for the paper! From there, local venues and bands began to hire me to photograph their shows. For me, nothing beats dancing in front of the stage, making great photographs of the band pouring their hearts out through their instruments.

When the paper was shut down, I knew right away that I wanted to get into photography. After a few months of being on EI, I discovered CAT and here I am!

So far the program has been just amazing for me. I love how it teaches everything starting from the basics (even graphic and web design!), it feels like a very well rounded experience, and I learn so much every single day. And it gets more exciting every week! As we learn more, we get way cooler projects – right up to last week, which has to be my favorite project so far…

As a class we went to the MC College, where the hair and makeup students were having a competition called “Queens of the World”. Each group was responsible for one Queen, such as the Queen of Hearts, Queen Amidala (from Star Wars), or even Dolly Parton – the Queen of Country! Each of us photography students was then assigned a queen or two to organize lighting for and to photograph. My queens were the Ice Queen from Narnia and Arwen, from Lord of the Rings. This was the most responsibility we’ve had in a photo shoot before, and it was both nerve-wracking and super exciting, and now I can’t wait for the fashion shoot that we get to do later on in this quarter!

When I came to school, I knew that I really needed to work on directing clients/models through a photo shoot. This quarter I have seen myself improve drastically throughout each shoot we’ve done, and now I find myself waiting excitedly for the next, not dreading it.

Knowing what you, personally, need to work on before coming to the school will really give you a head start when you get here. Your instructors are here to give you all the information you need to succeed, and will help you with your individual needs if need be, but I find that learning is so much more powerful when it’s done by you. Take what they give you, and apply it to your own knowledge and needs, and you will do well. The students here who achieve the most are able to see how every project gives them a new skill, or a portfolio piece, or an opportunity to network, each of which is another step up after you leave the school. Make sure that this is you!

I’ve been keeping a blog for my family and friends at www.emileezee.wordpress.com; check it out because I’ve been posting most of our big projects and assignments there, and you can get an idea of what we do in the Digital Photography program at CAT. You can also check out my Facebook page here.

Let’s talk again soon,
Emilee

PS – If you’re really into music photography too, check out Jess Baumung. He’s an amazing music photographer from Toronto who I had the opportunity to interview as part of a school project. What professional photographer would you interview if you had the chance?

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