Student Success: Student Success: Jordan Belville
When Jordan Belville was 8 years old, he used to jokingly tell his cousin that he would be taking pictures for National Geographic someday. For a while, he thought this photographic dream might be out of his financial reach- but after graduating high school, working and saving for a few months, Jordan was finally able to purchase his first DSLR- and he fell in love. Seven months ago, he enrolled at NYIP and began working with our mentors to fine tune his existing skills and further this longtime passion. Now a published photographer in The Pueblo West View, he continues to practice his art at NYIP, growing his portfolio in anticipation of graduation. We recently sat down with Jordan to discuss his time at NYIP, his experience in the industry and his plans for the future. Here’s what we learned:
1. When did you realize that photography was the field you wanted to pursue?
I realized I was interested in photography probably when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My cousin and I would always joke around and dream about taking pictures for National Geographic. We wanted to shoot volcanoes and tornadoes mostly. I sort of lost interest once I realized getting my hands on a camera at that age was near impossible. Once I graduated high school and got a decent job, I saved up for three months, bought my first DSLR camera and fell in love.
2. When did you enroll at NYIP?
I enrolled in NYIP about 7 months ago. I chose this school one because it was accredited, and secondly because I loved the Photo Snacks they offered, and the intensive coursework that I read about from other students experiences. I wanted to challenge myself as a photographer and build a strong knowledge base.
3. What is your coursework like?
The coursework is phenomenal. The material is very in depth and practical. Every unit is challenging and I am ALWAYS learning something new about photography I didn't know before.
4. Is your mentor helpful during the process?
The support I get from my mentors is very helpful to my learning. I love hearing their evaluations after I submit a Photo Project. They always encourage me to take more, and when needed suggest taking things in a different angle, or try a different lighting technique.
5. Tell us about your feature with The Pueblo West View!
I was actually very surprised when I saw my picture published in The Pueblo West View. One night we had a series of thunderstorms while I was visiting the town I grew up in. I saw lighting flashing outside, and literally grabbed my camera and tripod and ran out of the house during a movie my family was watching. I was out there for about 45 minutes trying to get the perfect shot. Then after reviewing them my parents suggested I submit one for fun. So I sent an email with the attached picture to the editor. I never got a response back. So I just figured it got thrown into a spam box. Then the following week, my picture with my name was on the cover of The Pueblo West View! I was so excited. It’s one thing to be in the newspaper, but to be on the front page, the cover picture, was pretty awesome.
6. What qualities do you think a successful, aspiring photographer needs?
I think that aspiring photographers need to have a strong amount of patience, and a desire to learn. I can't tell you how long I stay out at night trying to get that perfect Milky Way shot. Hours upon hours. Up and coming photographers also need to be able to accept advice from more experienced photographers. Most people want to help each other, and there is a huge database of knowledge in the world. They must be open to hearing ideas, and not afraid to ask questions. I think the most important quality an aspiring photographer would need to have would simply be to love photography. It's one thing to do it as a hobby, but to live a photographer lifestyle takes commitment, and constant growing. You learn to see the world through a lens.
7. After graduation, what are your plans?
After I graduate I plan on building a portfolio with my best shots and then just getting my name out there by word of mouth. I have also been entering contests and trying to get involved with photography groups in the meantime. I would really like to take nature pictures professionally, so once I get a good enough foundation I am planning on contacting some magazines, and other newspapers. I have found quite a few people who want me to shoot their weddings too, which is another possibility.
8. What do you always carry with you in your camera bag?
I always carry an extra SD Card, my 55-300mm, 15mm, and 28-77mm lens. This selection gives me a good range. Sometimes I'll carry my dust rocket too, to make sure there is no dust in my camera body or lenses.
9. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far at NYIP?
The most interesting thing I have learned is probably when I learned about how photographs used to be taken. We are so advanced in technology now; it's incredible to see how they were able to do it long ago.
10. If you had to pick one, what was the most memorable photography project you’ve ever completed?
Probably the Five-Picture Story for the Photojournalism class. It was really my first big assignment and it was HOURS of shooting. It was really fun and even more fun going through all the images afterwards.
11. Describe a day in your life as a photographer.
A day in my life as a photographer would probably include a lot of walking. I look at my subject through so many angles, to make sure there isn’t a better angle I missed. I try different lighting, and different lenses. If I were going to go shoot a landscape picture for example. I would map out where I am going, check the sunset and sunrise along with the weather. I would make sure my camera is fully charged, and pack extra SD cards in case something spectacular happens and I don't want to run out of room. Most of the time I like shooting sunrises. There is a moment when everything is still as if it's holding its breath right before the sun peeks over the horizon bathing everything in golden light. So, I would get up at around 4am, and go! I usually spend about 6 hours out on the field depending where I go.
12. What’s the most rewarding part of studying photography?
The most rewarding part of studying photography is learning the complete process from when an image is taken to when it's fully processed. There is just a sense of completeness when you start early, take you shots, and then scan over the RAW data, and then print out a large picture. That moment when it's hanging on the wall and you can say, “I took that.” and you remember the sights and sounds and smells, of the moment in time. That to me is the most rewarding part.
13. What subject is usually your favorite to shoot?
My favorite subject to shoot is probably landscape, but once in a while I fall in love with the way the light will fall on someone's face and I just have to shoot the portrait!
14. If you could give one piece of advice to our current and prospective students, what would it be?
Do not be afraid to ask questions. If you have questions about the coursework, your camera, or photography in general there is always someone at NYIP to help you. Whether it's through your mentor, or through the student forum, you always have a resource and people standing by your side to help you reach your dreams in photography. Also, practice practice, practice!
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