From clay sculptures mistaken for vegetables to abysmal circles misshapen even with a compass guiding every move, traditional art is not my forte. While I cannot draw the simplest of stick figures, art remains my greatest passion. My art, however, involves neither pencils nor paint, but instead, a camera.

I was never supposed to be a photographer. Traditionally speaking, when students apply to join the West Side Story, they choose one specific position that they wish to hold, should they be accepted. Words came naturally; therefore, I was destined to be a reporter. However, I couldn’t shake the love that I had acquired for capturing the world visually. I began taking my camera to events I covered during my second year on staff, thus birthing my photojournalism career.

Becoming one with the crowd

Public events are any photojournalist’s best friend. The variety of emotion and enthusiasm experienced in these settings is unparalleled, and it is the job of each photojournalist to take snapshots of these moments as often as possible. I often attend rallies, community occurrences, and other relevant affairs with a camera in hand, ready to capture the crowd.

“Charged Women’s March rallies in downtown Iowa City”

Published on Jan. 21, 2018. These photos were featured on “Best of SNO” and were part of a package that received an Honorable Mention in the IHSPA Multimedia Story – News category. 

Behind the photos:

These photos were taken at the 2018 Iowa City Women’s March. Hundreds of people from all walks attended, including prominent figures like Iowa City councilwoman Mazahir Salih and future-Iowa senator Zach Wahls.

“Return to the runway”

Published on Oct. 17, 2017.

Behind the photos:

“Fashion to the Rescue” is an annual dog fashion show that raises money for local animal shelters in the Iowa City area. Rescue dogs are paired with fashion designers from the “Iowa Fashion Project” and have clothes specially designed for them that they model in the show.

Lights, camera, action

Capturing motion is a daunting task for photographers. Given the varying amounts of light or room to shoot that a photographer may have, every photographer must be ready to think on their feet and adapt to the situation at hand. This challenge requires a lot of patience and immense control over one’s camera. This is perhaps why action photography initially frustrated me. However, with time and practice, I began to see it as much of an art as any other form of photography.

“ICCSD high school show choirs perform at fundraising event”

Published on Jan. 11, 2019.

Behind the photos:

Show choir is a popular activity amongst Iowa students across the state. I originally began shooting show choir in the fall of 2017 and continued to do so in order to improve my action photography skills and camera settings adaptability. As a result of my work during their 2017-18 season, I was made the official student show choir photographer for the 2018-19 season.

Covering celebrities

While living in Iowa City, community members are incredibly fortunate to have the chance to see prominent figures of all sorts, ranging from Broadway performers to nationally-recognized politicians. When these individuals find their way here, I make it a priority to cover these individuals in both writing and photography.

“High school students draw inspiration from Bernie Sanders rally”

Published on Feb. 27, 2018.

Behind the photos:

2016 Democratic candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders came to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to urge Iowans to fight against President Donald Trump’s 2018 tax plan. As I was shooting from the crowd, I noticed that professional news outlets had a much better view from an elevated area in the center of the room. I went over and asked if I could take a few photos from this location and received an official press pass for the event in return. The first photo is taken from this area.

“Leslie Odom Jr. performs at Hancher”

Published on Oct. 6, 2017.

Behind the photos:

Broadway star Leslie Odom Jr. visited Iowa City as a guest artist and performed songs from his acclaimed musical Hamilton, as well as new tracks off his album. I arrived to the performance early in order to find a spot as close to the stage as possible to obtain better pictures. Aside from gaining some of my favorite photos, I certainly didn’t regret having a front row seat to this talented musician while covering the event.


When the online edition of our paper began the recurring series “Fashion Fridays,” portraits proved to be a popular form of media with our student audience. Since then, posed photography has become a staple for all West Side Story staff photographers, though it deviates from traditional photojournalism.

“An unexpected addition”

Published on Dec. 26, 2018. These photos were featured on “Best of SNO.”

Behind the photos:

Noah Breitbach and Sydney Johnston are a teenage couple that plan to graduate from high school in 2019 while raising their daughter, Stella Mae. I was assigned to be the photographer for this story explaining how the two balance typical high school activities with parenting. The goal of these photos was to capture the love these three have for one another in a natural setting: Sydney’s home.

“Fashion Friday: Emma Furlong ’21”

Published on Dec. 29, 2017.

Behind the photos:

As previously stated, “Fashion Fridays” are a popular portraiture feature that the West Side Story does as a recurring series. During my designated Friday, I chose to highlight Emma Furlong and her renowned sense of style. We explored various locations in downtown Iowa City that I believed would match her look. Though this was one of my first portraiture shoots, it is still one of my favorite overall shoots to this day.