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ESSAY 1: BEFORE

Photography is my passion.  It all started when I was in sixth grade when my grandmother bought me a digital camera.  She always loved photography and she wanted me to love photography too.  We often went on hikes together and I began to take pictures of nature.  I started to develop my own signature style, close ups of leaves and streams.  In winter I would take pictures of snow.  Every snowflake is unique and if the storm is right, the snowflake is big enough to take a photo without special equipment.  I really loved my snowflake pictures.  I used to print them out and hang them all around my house.  I even got a couple of them framed and gave them as gifts to people.

As I got more into photography I wanted to be able to edit my designs, so I learned photoshop.  With photoshop I could do all sorts of cool things.  One day my mom asked me if I she could use my camera to take pictures of my older brother’s soccer game.  I told her that I would be happy to do it myself.  I took some great photos and my parents loved them.  She showed them to the other parents who asked for copies.  Then I got my idea.  I could take photos of my brother and other soccer games in his league and get their parents to pay money.  I quickly learned HTML and set up a website.  I posted the photos on the web and then charged money to people wanted them.

It was hard at first because I had to tell my brother’s teammates that the photos would cost money.  Often parents would see me at games and ask me what I was doing.  I would explain I was taking photos and they would ask if they could see the photos afterwards.  I would tell them sure, but tell them that the photos weren’t free.  Sometimes it was akward.  I figured out that the best games to do were little kids games as parents always wanted photos.  It was hard because I would have to go around to the parents and hand them a card with my website that would tell them about what I was doing.  I had to approach parents who were a lot older and sometimes it was hard.

Eventually, my photos became pretty popular and in fact my teacher at school suggested I report on sports for my school newspaper.  I could take photos and then write up the articles, but it also meant I would have to interview the players.  It was hard at first for me to interview senior boys .  They were so much older and popular.  These were the stars of my school.  But I got good at it, and won Ryan Phillips Cooper award.  But more importantly I gained confidence.  It’s intimidating to interview a guy who is tall and built.

ESSAY 1: AFTER

My grandmother might not have known much about technology, but she knew digital cameras. And, for my 13th birthday she got me a Cannon PowerShot. It was the best gift of my life.

The gift was a way for my grandmother to share her two greatest passions – photography and nature.  At 13, my love of nature already ran deep, and I quickly began to feel the same way about photography.  Together we explored hiking trails, as we chatted about life.  And took pictures.  My favorite photos were snowflakes.  Snowflakes are unique, my grandmother used to tell me, just like each of her grandchildren. 

As my interest in photography developed, I wanted to be able to edit my photos, so I learned Photoshop.  With Photoshop, I could make my photos pop.  One day, my mom asked me if I she could use my camera to take pictures of my older brother’s soccer game.  I told her that I’d be happy to do it myself.  I got some great shots of my brother and his teammates, and my mom shared them with other parents on the team.  The other parents loved the photos, and asked for copies.  And, I got an idea; I could take action photos of the players at soccer games and get the player’s parents to purchase the photos.  I quickly learned HTML and set up a website. 

Life as a budding photographer/entrepreneur was tough; each game, I would have to market my services.  I would take some photos and then chat up parents on the sidelines explaining what I was doing. This could be intimidating, especially when it came time to explain that the photos weren’t free.  But the more I did it, the easier it became. And though I would have described myself as shy around adults at 13, as a high school freshman of 15 I was much more confident.

One of my high school teachers knew of my photo business and suggested that I report on sports for my school newspaper.  But reporting sports required me to interview the coaches and players, as well as take photographs.  This was tough as a gawky freshman girl.  Parents were, by this point, easy to talk to.  But players—especially the boys—were tough.  I was intimidated to interview the boys' teams; they were tall, muscular, and popular.  These players were the stars of my school.  I was afraid to say something stupid, but I agreed to try.  For my first couple of interviews my teacher joined me.  But just like the parents, I learned quickly and felt comfortable soon enough.  I ended up being pretty good at it.  I won a County Award for best sports coverage.  But more importantly photography gave me the gift of confidence.