Column: With a passion for capturing images, I am building a career in photography

Jena Stallings stands in front of a fence with trees behind her.
Jena Stallings

Jena Stallings
Oxford Stories

Photography brings me happiness and satisfaction like no other hobby. It’s a creative outlet, and you don’t really need to be a professional to achieve aesthetic or quality results.

The first camera I had when I was 10 was a small, ultra-compact Canon camera, similar to the Canon Powershot A4000 IS HD 16MP digital camera model released in 2012. I have always loved taking photos, whether it was on my camera or my first flip phone. 

My love for photography has grown, and I have learned so much. I always thought photos held so much power and emotion. The photos I take serve as memories I don’t want to forget.

My mother and grandfather both enjoy photography, so it is nice to have experienced and knowledgeable people in my life who have helped me grow into a talented photographer. My grandfather has taught me a lot in the technical realm of photography, such as camera settings and adjustments. Those things can make all the difference in a photo no matter what the subject matter is.

Nature and people are my favorite because there is nothing you have to change about them. They are just beautiful and interesting the way they are found. If you find the perfect timing, lighting and angle, it can be a one-of-a-kind photo.

A bee in a bed of flowers. Photo by Jena Stallings.
Bee in a bed of flowers. Photo by Jena Stallings.

My parents bought me my first camera. I currently have a Canon EOS Rebel T6, and it has allowed me to do some amazing things.

Anyone close to me knows and can say I am always stopping to take a picture of something to capture a happy, funny, interesting, or sad moment. Looking back at photos that I have taken, there is not one photo I regret taking. They either made me laugh, smile, or cry.

I want to do that for others. I want to capture raw moments in life that will spark emotion, inspiration or admiration. I hope to build a career that involves photography.

Attending the University of Mississippi, I have learned so many things that will help further my career in photography, such as editing software, lighting, composition, camera functions, etc. My professors have taught me that no detail or object is too small or unimportant.

Fireworks at Disney's Magic Kingdom. Photo by Jena Stallings.
Fireworks at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Photo by Jena Stallings.

For example, I just traveled to Disney World with my family. Every night at each park, they have a final show near closing time. At Magic Kingdom, they had a firework and projection show at Cinderella’s Castle.

As they set off the great, finale set of fireworks, I captured them at their peak. My timing and light exposure were, in my opinion, perfect. The photo shows symmetry, wide ranges of colors, crowds of people, Cinderella’s Castle, and an impressive amount of exploding fireworks in the night sky.

My family takes a lot of vacations together, and my first real and exciting opportunity for memory-making photography was our trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Around every corner, there was a great place to take a photo with the diversity and natural scenery of the Smoky Mountains in the distance.

Shopping and tourist strip in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Photo by Jena Stallings.
Gatlinburg trip and Smoky Mountains. Photo by Jena Stallings.

Today, I am grateful and thankful for all the opportunities I have had to build my skills on my photography journey. I am majoring in journalism with a photojournalism minor. Most importantly, it is a great outlet to show others expression and creativity. Photography will allow for more travel and exploration in my life while looking for that “perfect” photo.

Although nothing is perfect, there is beauty in imperfections. Photography helps examine that concept.

My goal for photography is to look at something that is thought to be invaluable and make it valuable by putting a camera in front of it to help others see the beauty at a different angle.

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