Some say becoming a professional photographer has its share of challenges, but the ones who achieve the status believe it is one of the most rewarding career paths.
Randi Vasquez who has had a fascination with how the camera works and how film is developed since she was a child has been on a journey to learn all she can about picture taking.
The Lee University sophomore may have had a video featured on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” television show but it’s her photographs she wants to be commended for.
With an artist mother who was a terrific photographer as well as a painter, Vasquez had the opportunity to learn and develop her creativity. With a darkroom in the basement, her mother was able to teach her how to process film.
“My mom was the one who inspired me. She influenced me on the artistic side of things,” Vasquez said. “I remember painting from since I was a little girl when my mom would sit my cousin and I down on weekends to show us how to make a sunflower or another object. It was fun and I have a lot of memories from it.”
While some elementary children were interested in an variety of activities Vasquez was enthralled with her first digital camera.
“I began taking pictures of myself. I would post them all over the house,” she said.
In the eighth grade she entered a talent competition to reveal her skillfulness as a photographer. She had been known as the girl who created paintings with watercolors and acrylic paint but this time she showcased her talents behind the camera. It was the beginning of something new.
“I just couldn’t stop taking pictures. From there I made a portfolio so I could work for my church magazine which I did in the ninth grade.”
Any opportunity that came about to learn about cameras and photography Vasquez seized. While in high school she took a photography class and learned how to build her own pin-hole camera.
As the ambition and determination rose up in her to pursue her picture taking forte she began looking for a college close to home that could provide her with the education she longed for.
“My mom and brother attended Lee University so I knew about the area. I also felt like keeping up the family tradition and wanted to follow in their footsteps so I came to Lee.”
With a major in telecommunications with an emphasis in advertising she is learning a lot from her instructors.
“My plans could change a little,” Vasquez said. “I love the classes and the Lee instructors. I’m just not sure what area of the industry I will end up in but hopefully it involves advertising and recording-type work.”
“I have many goals but my dream job would be to become a traveling fashion photographer. I want to do everything — from all ends of the spectrum.”
While the blossoming photographer receives her college education she is also getting to know the Bradley County/Cleveland community. She has discovered just how friendly people are.
Last year a school project in digital photography class, where she learned the fundamentals of lighting, required her to take photos and interview people which provided her with an up-close adventure.
“Cleveland has a homey feel, for the most part. People are nice, polite friendly and warm here,” she said. “I found the barbershops around here have some of the nicest people.”
The phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” is something she has put into action. Recently a project in photojournalism class taught her more than she already knew. Using a mannequin for the assignment she created a book with one concept to flow throughout.
“I love to set up projects and bring in things to stage photos,” Vasquez said. “I put the mannequin into daily things I would do. I had the book printed and put into hardback form.”
The book has brought her good luck. When she applied for a job as a student photographer for a Lee University publication she used it in her portfolio. She landed the job.
Like most creative, multitalented individuals, Vasquez works with more than one medium. In addition to creating unique pictures and painting she is also a self-taught pastry chef who enjoys making one-of-a-kind cupcakes. She also has a flair for fashion and is what some call a “moon and stars” nerd.
“I just like looking at the moon and knowing about it,” she said laughing.
In her family, her hometown and on the college campus, Vasquez has established herself as an accomplished photographer. It’s just one of the reasons she takes her camera everywhere she goes. The main reason is because she loves capturing people, objects and activities with it.
“I get satisfaction from a successful photo shoot. At the end of the day when I’m editing the photos it makes me happy. You know immediately if you achieved the right kind of concept.”
Looking through the lens gives her a chance to view things from a different perspective. It offers her a way to see things other people usually ignore.
Vasquez has made her mind up to stay focused to fulfill her goals. More than anything she would like to be known as a caring person who took simple, ordinary objects and made them look out of this world in a single photo.