Yang uses photography as an outlet for creativity, education

February 10, 2020 — by Nicole Lu

Two years ago, then-sophomore Selina Yang picked up the camera during a family vacation, not knowing how important photography would become to her a few months later.

“My dad really likes to take photos, and he bought a lot of fancy equipment that he never used,” Yang, now a senior, said. “On family trips, I would just pick up the camera and randomly take photos.”

Starting with landscape photography, Yang gradually became interested in portraits. She especially likes this form of photography because of the different people she gets to interact with. Yang emphasizes glowing skin tones, vibrant colors and leading lines as common features she highlights in her subjects.

As her passion for photography grew, Yang decided to create a business account on Instagram to showcase her work and connect with interested supporters. The account also serves as encouragement for her followers to interact with.

“I wanted a place where I could track my progress and to motivate myself to keep going,” Yang said. “I created an account to incentivize myself to continue photography.”

With around 600 followers and hundreds of likes per post, Yang is proud of the success of her business account. Her platform is primarily social media-based, and people interested in her work can contact Yang and set up shoots.

“For a few shoots I reach out to friends, but usually it’s people who follow me when I repost posts from my photography account,” Yang said. “One time there was this girl from Lynbrook who asked to shoot with me at an arcade.”

As the co-president of the photography club and photographer for the school yearbook, Yang also does a few jobs for her mom’s friends outside of school. A freelance photographer, she shoots for family photos, senior portraits or prom photoshoots as a side job.

Besides earning some revenue, Yang has found new friends throughout her journey. Sophomore Elizabeth Lemberg has gone on multiple shoots with Yang, and feels as though each one has been both fun and rewarding.

“Shooting with Selina has been very fun,” Lemberg said. “The shoots are pretty chill and we always try to experiment and have fun with it. We go pretty much anywhere we want, and we try to be as creative as possible; we usually get boba after.”

Yang has also been the photographer and videographer for local nonprofit organization Water in Nepal since her sophomore year, when she first visited Nepal. After meeting up with her friend who was affiliated with the volunteering organization, Yang was inspired and joined during winter break of that year. 

According to its website, Water in Nepal is a team made up of high school students and invests in infrastructure and water filtration projects that bring cleaner water to villages, schools and institutions in Nepal. 

While she started off taking photos every time the team embarked on a trip to Nepal, which is every six months, Yang has become more involved in the technical aspects, such as planning fundraisers and reaching out to sponsors. The subjects she covers are featured under the Instagram handle @waterinnepal, and range from profiles of Nepali children and residents to Nepal’s beautiful landscape.

Although Yang has found her hobby of photography rewarding and fun, she is hesitant to pursue it as a college major or a job.

“I think I would continue using it as a side job or a hobby because I feel like if I take it too seriously or if it becomes my job, I don’t want to be told what to do in terms of that sort of thing,” Yang said. “I feel like it would ruin my relationship with it if I took it too seriously.”

However, Yang feels as though the valuable experiences through the process will ultimately be ones that she’ll carry far beyond high school.

“For the freelance shoots, I have to meet a ton of strangers, and people that I normally wouldn’t interact with, like adults or people from other schools,” Yang said. “It usually takes a while to get to know someone and then make them feel comfortable in front of the camera, so I’ve learned to be more open and collaborative.”


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