By Rachel Britton
I went from a photography to a statistics to a mathematics major all in the course of two years. Even after I switched to a math major, I continued to take photography classes because I was still extremely interested in the subject.
Luckily, I was hired at the Laker Store at the end of my freshman year, and through the whole I-think-I-want-to-do-math-but-I-actually-hate-it phase, I had been taking photos for their website, advertisements, and social media.
Although I did have photography to keep me enjoying life, I rarely took any photos beyond my duties at the Laker Store. It didn’t help having all that pressure from my family to make money. They would say, “Photography is just a hobby”, but I had no motivation to pursue my new unloved degree in mathematics like they wanted me to. I knew I was good at math, but I didn’t love math. At the end of my sophomore year, I gave up and I almost dropped out of school.
During the summer before my junior year, I decided I was going to my switch my major back to photography. I remember feeling relieved and hopeful when I switched my major back. That upcoming school year, I fought hard to get my homework done. I even started photographing more outside of the Laker Store and began entering contests as well as exhibitions. I became more productive than I ever had in college because I felt right in the photography program; however, I knew that photography wouldn’t be enough for the career I wanted to pursue.
I considered double majoring in Photography and Graphic Design or Marketing, but Graphic Design would take too long to achieve and Marketing seemed boring.
My junior year I was inspired by my coworker Jessica Krysinska, who graduated with a degree in Advertising last year. She would talk about all these compelling ideas that she had been coming up with for her class projects, which made me really interested in the idea of pursuing advertising. And since I had been photographing products/advertisements at the Laker Store already, it was only natural that I would be drawn to Advertising and Public Relations.
This past summer I decided to add a minor in Advertising and Public Relations in addition to my Photography major. I assumed advertising would be easy and super creative since I was already shooting ads for the Laker Store. Little did I know that there’s a very structured side to advertising and that that structure guides the creative elements of the subject.
I use the knowledge I’ve gained in my advertising classes, as well as from Advertising Club, to find better ways to photograph for the Laker Store and for my own photography business.
Instead of simply taking photos that I think will “look cool” for the Laker Store, I actually think about how to photograph products in a way that is logical and interesting to the audience. I’ve learned so much during this semester alone that I know I will continue in advertising. I will become more professional, increasingly motivated, and more thoughtful about my images before I go out to photograph.
Rachel is a Photography major celebrating their fourth year at Grand Valley. Rachel has an Advertising and Public Relations minor and works at the Laker Store as their in-house photographer. Their career goal is to photograph products for a large clothing brand after graduation. Rachel likes reading, fashion, going to drag shows, and talking (a lot). Rachel uses they/them pronouns.