On the Cover
By Shawn, age 15, Kansas
Editor's note: On the cover this month, we are honored to feature the work of one of our talented young photographer / writers. For this issue Shawn has also contributed a really cool article about her passion for photography, and how (as a photographer) she views the world around her. I encourage you to check out "The Camera Created Me". You can find more of Shawn's work at flickr.com/shawnisabelle.
Growing up in Kansas, it's easy to feel trapped. In fact, that's what I have felt most of my life - trapped. It's easy to get lost in the sea of 7,000 other teenagers and 30,000 middle aged couples.
All of my life I've been out of place. I'm not Christian. I would rather read Pride and Prejudice than Seventeen magazine. I play half a dozen instruments instead of running in circles on asphalt. And I carry a camera everywhere I go. My mind is drifting somewhere in the field in comparison to my office cubicle-type Republican companions of the town. Constricted and isolated, I have been searching my whole life for a way to escape.
I've found my escape through the means of several passions. The first passion is the obvious one - photography. I bought my first camera last May when I was fourteen. I didn't quite understand photography then, too immature to understand the complex concepts involved in taking a real picture. Because for me photography is more than just snapping. It's capturing a moment of life, of a mind, freezing beauty. Most people don't ever fully understand that true photography is more than taking a picture. It's creating art. It's seeing your soul reflect back at you in an image.
The second passion is travel. Luckily, since I am of Taiwanese heritage, I have traveled out of the country almost every year of my life. I am fortunate enough to have parents who love to travel as much as I do. This year I am going to Sweden, Denmark, England, and Taiwan. There is something about going out of the country that is extremely gratifying. To be able to observe culture and see the small changes in everyday life of people all around the world is the most amazing thing I can think of. It's an amazing feeling, as if I can be someone other than who I'm constricted to be every other day of my life, someone boundless. There's something so exhilarating about getting lost in a foreign country ... once you get over the panic, of course.
When I reflect on my past, I feel as if it's slightly ridiculous to have felt so miserable my whole life. Through my art I have learned to appreciate the beauty in everything, and that includes Kansas. Slowly I have come to appreciate the small town that is my home. In fact, one of my favorite things to capture is modern day suburbia (and the problems that come with it, of course), and I have my childhood to thank. I have my whole life to explore the world around me, as I just turned 15 in February. I have my whole life ahead of me, and I'm not in a rush. I'm learning to slow down every step I take, to look around and see the world around me.
As for the future, nothing can be certain. My dream would be to attend the Pratt Institute of Design as a photography major, or study in Rhode Island, but I'm looking for options closer to home as well. Besides photography, I'm also interested in psychology - the ways of the human mind - literature, European history, and art history. I hope to travel the world and take pictures of the people and the world around me.
Because there is really so much to see.