Student photo clubs develop love for photography

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Student photographers are looking to change the competitive nature of the photography industry through clubs that cultivate learning and support.

Every Tuesday night, BYU students meet to learn different techniques and talk about their experiences in photography. While the BYU Photo Club is available only to students at BYU, it is not limited to photography majors. Members range from photography students to amateurs to some pursuing a photography career on the side. The club brings in professional guest lecturers who share their skills and expertise with the group.

Jacob Montiel-Bravo
The BYU Photo Club poses for a group picture. (Jacob Montiel-Bravo)

“Most members I’ve met personally aren’t even in the photography program,” BYU Photo Club President Jacob Montiel-Bravo said. “We may all share a passion for photography, but we still have unique and diverse interest. Moreover, we’re all on different levels, but that doesn’t hinder anyone because we all learn from each other.”

Montiel-Bravo said the BYU Photo Club isn’t a replacement for a degree in photography, but it does allow passionate enthusiasts the opportunity to learn and grow. He said he hopes the club will introduce more people to the art of photography.

“The end goal isn’t to turn people into professionals or experts,” Montiel-Bravo said. “They have to keep practicing on their own to reach that point. The purpose of the club is to demonstrate all the different forms of photography you can do and giving good tips that can lead you to a solid start to wherever you want to end up.”

BYU also recently started its own chapter of the National Press Photographers Association under the leadership of communications students Ryan Turner, president, and Carley Porter, vice president.

The club started in direct response to the School of Communications canceling its photojournalism class, Turner said.

“The inspiration for this came mostly from our vice president Carley Porter,” Turner said. “She found out that the one and only photojournalism class had been cancelled by the Comms program and approached Steve Fidel with the idea to start a chapter of NPPA at BYU in response to this.”

Its goals are still modest because the club is so new, but Turner said he hopes to be able to hold biweekly photography events to aid members in building experience and getting comfortable practicing photojournalism.

Club members were recently invited to attend the BYU Rugby game against St. Mary’s to practice their sports photography and submit their photos to The Daily Universe. Turner, who worked as a photojournalist for the BYU newspaper, The Daily Universe, has also been working to give members opportunities to job shadow with working professionals at The Daily Herald and Deseret News.

“Even though BYU doesn’t have a photojournalism program, our goal is to help those journalism and photography students who are interested in it get the experience and networks they need to pursue it professionally,” Turner said.

Students who join the photojournalism club at BYU don’t have to have a membership through National Press Photographers Association, but Turner said he recommends it.

“It’s pretty cool,” Turner said. “It gives you access to monthly photo contests, jobs and internship opportunities and different educational events. I joined NPPA, and it’s got a lot of really useful tools to help students find employment.”

Derek Wride, lecture organizer for the UVU club Photo fam, said Utah is a tough place to start photography.

“Utah has a kind of harsh photo industry,” Wride said. “Everyone wants to be a photographer, but nobody wants to help each other.”

Wride started out studying business at UVU, but changed course after taking a social media class for his major.

He said he now helps others develop their skills.

“We wanted to create a safe place where new photography students or people that are more experienced … could come, and it would be a safe space where you can learn and collaborate and teach … where we are creating opportunities for you to use your camera and get out and get your name out,” Wride said.

The Photo fam club is totally free and open to all, Wride said.

“You show up, and you don’t have to be a part of our school. You don’t have to be in our age group. It literally doesn’t matter,” Wride said. “You show up, you bring a camera, your iPhone, we don’t really care. We are gonna try and teach you everything we can about what you own.”

Photo fam, which is still getting started, is based out of the UVU ballroom and posts class times and an event schedule on Instagram. The club’s goal is not only to provide photographers at all levels opportunities to learn and grow, but also to build those skills to a professional level and get their names out there and line photographers up with local vendors and companies to shoot events.

Recently, the club held an event in Provo, providing its members a chance to practice street photography with models.

Johnny Morris
Members of the UVU photography club, Photo fam, meet up for a street photography event on Center Street in Provo. (Johnny Morris)

Photo enthusiasts can also turn to the internet for additional opportunities. While many sites like Lynda.com offer paid photography courses, there are others like nofilmschool.com and digitalphotographyschool.com that offer free tutorials and tips. Sites like Meetup.com help local photographers find each other, network for events and share photos.