• Elena Vallejo

More Than Just A Pretty Picture

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

About three summers ago my two best friends and I found an old camera laying around. We decided to get dressed up and have a photo shoot in my backyard. Never could I have imagined that a little backyard photo shoot would change my life so much.

The photo shoots became a thing we did once or twice a month. We took turns posing and being the photographer. I really enjoyed being behind the camera more than being in front of it. As the summer went on I became the “photographer” and my friends were my “models”. I also became a photographer for my school yearbook, helping out by taking pictures at school events. I tried to take pictures as much as I could and teach myself new things. Slowly I was becoming better at it. The next school year for my 17th birthday, I received my first real camera (a Canon Rebel T6). I continued to take pictures for my school. I was head photographer for our yearbook, newspaper, and social media pages. I also became a photographer for Love Girls Magazine. Earlier this year I had one of my pictures published in the magazine for the first time.

At this point, my pictures were getting a lot closer to being professional quality, so it was time to start a business. I decided to use my skills in photography to help others. I created a nonprofit organization called Picture Empowerment. Through this organization, I offer free photo shoots to anyone who needs them. Currently, I am the assistant photographer for Love Girls Magazine. I was provided a $300 grant from the magazine to grow my business. This year I am receiving the Young Journalist Award from the Quad City Times’ Salute to Academics and Achievement for my work as a photographer.

Taking pictures is not something I do because I am good at it. Photography has become my passion. I love being able to create art and express myself through the camera, and I get to help others by doing something I love. Being a photographer is more than the positions I hold or awards I get. As I start my freshman year of college I will continue to work hard to be the best photographer I can. It is a part of who I am.

If you are interested in seeing more of my work, check out my social media!

Instagram: @picture_empowerment

Facebook: Picture Empowerment

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