A pair of PCA&D students have been selected for an international photographers' conference program in January.
Kennedy Bryant Toomey (‘22 Photography & Video) and Nicole Stoltzfus (‘22 Photography & Video) have been accepted into the volunteer program at the Professional Photographers of America's 2020 Imaging USA Conference in Nashville. They'll join more than 10,000 international photographers in Nashville for the six-day conference, an event that combines conference, trade show, and exhibition, and is the largest of its kind in the U.S.
Organizers, Kennedy says, "choose several students from around the country to participate in order to create networking and connections between big-name photography corporations and students."
Toomey and Stoltzfus sat down to share their thoughts about the opportunity -- as well as their dream cameras, assignments, and inspirations, and what drew them to pursue a BFA in Photography & Video at PCA&D:
Did you know, coming in to PCA&D, that you'd choose the photography path? What was it that attracted you to this art form?
Kennedy: When I started at PCA&D, I was a transfer from (Philadelphia's) Moore College of Art & Design. I had part of Foundation year under my belt, but was still conflicted between going into photography or graphic design. Many people persuaded me to go into graphic design for the money prospects, but my heart fell for the photographic mediums. Photography for me is more than just a picture on a phone or in your hand. It has a story and life of its own, and I found comfort in how I can capture a moment or feeling so fleeting that can evoke such power and emotion.
Nicole: Coming into PCA&D I knew I would go into photography. I always loved the ability a camera gives me to capture a moment in time that would be otherwise lost in this busy world.
What photographers inspire you?
Kennedy: Growing up, I was heavily influenced by Margaret Bourke-White and her documentary work as the first female war photojournalist back in World War II. This past semester, I have been inspired by the likes of Elinor Carucci and Jen Davis for their more intimate style of photography as I have gotten more in tune with myself in my personal projects.
Kennedy, can you talk a bit about what's inspired this self-portrait, self-image series you're doing?
Kennedy: I have always been a cold person when it comes to showing myself to others. In a world so passionate with the ideas of a perfect person, it is hard to love yourself when you are so far from that image. I grew up in a very broken home with a father who left because my mother wasn’t ideal looking and would ridicule his children for their weight and mental instability. These memories still carry over to my current struggles with image. It’s a burden at times, but people such as my mother and my husband have loved me through it. Within this personal project, I chose to highlight the ups and downs of my internal battle with both my bipolar disorder and being a plus-sized woman and how I deal with it on a daily basis by photographing the one subject that is the hardest to capture: myself.
Nicole, can you talk a bit about the images you chose for your ImagingUSA portfolio? What inspired them?
Nicole: The photos I chose for my portfolio were done as a final personal project for my fundamentals of lighting class. I chose these because I enjoyed experimenting and figuring out everything I can achieve in a studio environment, and I’m proud of how they turned out.
Nicole, how did you hear about the ImagingUSA conference? Were you encouraged to apply, or did you and Kennedy do so on your own? What was involved in the process of applying?
Nicole: I heard about the conference through an email Professor Eric Weeks sent out to the whole department. I was interested in the opportunity but it was Kennedy who really encouraged me to and I’m really glad she did. She helped me get out of my comfort zone.
Kennedy: Our department chair, Eric Weeks, sent us a link to the volunteer application and highly recommended the photo majors to check it out. Nicole and I took the initiative and went through the process in hope we could do it together. We began with applying, watching PowerPoint presentations sent to us about the organization and what was in store for us, then we did two interviews; one by email and one by phone. Afterwards we received our acceptance letters, and now here we are.
What camera do you currently use?
Kennedy: I typically use my Canon Rebel SL1 for digital work and for film I have my Canon AE-1.
Nicole: I currently use a Canon T5i.
Your dream camera?
Kennedy: I would love to get my hands on a Canon 5D Mark IV.
Nicole: One of my dream cameras at the moment is the Canon EOS R.
Dream photographic assignment?
Nicole: My dream photography assignment or job (?) is traveling and working with National Geographic.
Kennedy: I would probably drop over dead if I ever got to work for National Geographic and travel with them. Just the idea of experiencing different cultures, environments, and people is so thrilling. I am up for any kind of adventure!
Have you narrowed down what kind of photography you may want to do after graduation?
Kennedy: Personally, I don’t know what’s in store after graduation yet, but as I am experimenting more with mediums, I am drawn a lot to documentary and travel photography.
Nicole: After graduation I’d like to focus on street photography as well as documentary photography.