The Student News Site of East Grand Rapids High School

The East Vision

Keaton Smith Senior Column

Keaton Smith, Managing Editor

The most influential aspect of my high school career was introduced to me in an basic photography class freshman year that taught me the foundation of how to take great photos. Junior year, I became the photographer for the East Vision. I was doing something that I loved. The majority of this job involved approaching strangers at school and asking to take their portrait, and honestly, this terrified me. I had to work incredibly hard to push my introverted self out of my comfort zone to interview my peers and take their portrait. After a while, however, I began to realize that it was simple kindness that made both myself and my subject comfortable. I loved the connections I was making with a variety of people throughout my school that turned into lasting friendships. I loved how my subjects were so candid and genuine when they were posing for me while doing the things they loved– flying planes, playing cello, diving, painting– their love for their hobby shined through and I could capture the essence of their true selves. I loved this so much, and I wanted to do more, so last year, I began a project inspired by the The Blog: Humans of New York. Brandon Stanton takes photos of individuals on the streets of New York City and interviews them about an aspect of their life, representing diversity in thought and activities. In order to showcase a student body diverse with interesting passions locally, I created a Humans of East Grand Rapids blog through the East Vision newspaper. I featured a boy swamped by the intensity of ballet, a passionate feminist, a tutor who has lived through World War II, a girl who encourages others to pick up acting, and many more. I found that kindness helped me build individual connections with my peers while I shared their stories with my community. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone, dealing with this discomfort with kindness, and learning to be empathetic, has made me into the person I am today. Photography taught me empathy, diligence, and patience and as I reflect on the past four years, I’m eternally grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given to express my creativity.

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