Senior photographer develops skill, places 3rd, has shot at state

Shannon Keyser

The dozens of pictures taken daily on phones can make people lose sight of the skill photography requires. With photographers needing to learn abilities ranging from staging to exposure to shutter speed, along with many terms most people have never heard before, photography is a complex art. SkillsUSA allows students in photography, in addition to other disciplines, to showcase their abilities. At this year’s SkillsUSA competition, senior Laura Salazar competed in photography where her submission featured a patio home building with unique architecture from Florida to earn third place and advance to state.

“The picture was of something different, something people don’t see a lot of in Texas,” Laura said. “It was unique from other pictures.”

The awards program left Laura in shock as she had placed 12th her sophomore year and 6th her junior year, so she was hoping to improve in her final year.

“When I found out, I was shaking, I was happy, and I started to cry,” Laura said. “It’s a goal I’ve wanted to achieve, and I’m glad I achieved it in my last year.”

Laura’s photography teacher was also excited for Laura and found it difficult to keep the results secret when she found out ahead of time.

“It was 3:00 in the morning when we got the score sheets back,” photography teacher Laura Miller said. “We were screaming bloody murder and definitely woke up the people in the hotel room next to us. We had to keep it a surprise until the next day at 4:00 pm.”

It took a long time to build up to this moment. When Laura started photography her sophomore year, she was very quiet. As time has gone by, she has become more outgoing and comfortable with photography.

“She’s come out of her shell,” Miller said. “She’s gotten to where she’s comfortable asking questions and knowing what she needs to study and what she needs to do for her photos.”

As Laura has opened up, she has become a leader in the photography program.

“Laura has become more confident as a photographer and has really grown as an individual,” classmate and senior Katy Valerius said. “I have never had the same photo class as Laura, but she has done a lot to help out during and after class. Laura has always been a huge help when preparing for contests and is also helpful to others when [they] need help with editing a photo.”

Laura has felt herself change as well, which has given her more confidence.

“I’ve learned to try new things, to get out of my comfort zone,” Laura said. “If I put something in my mind, I can achieve it.”

One new thing Laura tried ended up becoming her favorite photograph. For a contest at the Mays Business School, Laura took a picture of an Oreo splashing into a glass of milk.

“We’d never done food photography before, and we went to a conference and learned how to do splash photography,” Miller said. “She said ‘I want to do that, now.’ We bought a bunch of food and went into the studio for five hours and played with Oreos.”

Laura plans to major in business after high school, and due to her exposure to photography, is considering creating a photography business and encourages others to try photography as well.

“I hope people try to get out of their comfort zones,” Laura said. “It will be creative, it will be fun, and they’ll get to compete and feel proud of themselves.”