Photo-Ops: A community of photographers

It’s to be expected that the only photography club on campus begets a tight-knit group of photographers, all set on helping each other learn their craft.

From BFA students who sculpt and paint photo subjects to student photojournalists, Photo-Ops hosts a diverse and broad array of members, all eager to host photography classes and drop-in studio themed workshops.

With snakes and dancers used to create powerful conceptual work last year, it’s hard to anticipate what other intricate subjects and props will be used this year.

I spoke with Photo-Ops president and founder, Sophie Gong, ArtSci ’14, about the ways in which students can get involved with Photo-Ops, as well as advice for students seeking to establish themselves as photographers:

What type of students are you hoping will join Photo-Ops?

We’re really trying to promote [photography education] to all levels ...We’re hopefully trying to put together print sales and galleries so [photographer members] can display their work and get noticed. So really, we just want to welcome everyone who is interested in photography.

What initiatives are you planning to have that will bring photographers together in the community?

We have an office this year so we have all our [studio] equipment [and] it will just be open for all photographers to use with an executive [member] supervising. That way if photographers want to do shoots for clubs or organizations or personal projects for portfolio building they’ll have that resource available ... A lot of students don’t really have that type of equipment or space available so we’re really hoping that way [these resources] will be more accessible.

Do you have any additional initiatives?

We’re trying to build up a network so all photographers on campus who are interested in photography or who are thinking about starting to get serious are going to be compiled into this area where people can just go onto this web page if they need a photographer for an event or a headshot, as opposed to posting on Facebook or just trying to ask friends [for a photographer].

Are most of the executive members self-established photographers?

Some are really serious about [photography] ... Others do [photography] more as a pretty serious hobby... For me, I do [photography] as a side part-time job ... My career is research and medicine, but I think I would still like to keep up my photography, even though my career is really different.

What advice would you give student photographers about starting out and establishing themselves?

Build up a really good portfolio, ask your friends to model, go out and try a lot of diverse genres of photography ... So when you start asking for paid or more professional opportunities, people can ... look at the work you’ve done already and be impressed by all the different types you’ve explored or what you’ve gotten really good at.

When you talk about the need for photographers to diversify their experience, which genres would you recommend?

Even if you want to do portraits, there are so many different types of portraits. Broadening the types you do is a really good idea. I do children and dance [photography] and I also do different types of lighting, studio and natural. So I can reach out to way more groups because ... a lot of people in sports and dance are looking for one type of portrait and other people [that] want just the typical professional headshot are looking for more studio-based work.

Do you find it difficult to set aside time to take pictures in your spare time?

I don’t find it difficult ... I do a lot of nature photography and I spend a lot of time outdoors anyway, so that’s for my own personal enjoyment and then in the studio I do come up with my own personal projects from time to time, but mostly I do commercial or paid work. But, I find that [leisure and paid photography] the two are both very enjoyable ... so I find that the balance is pretty easy to keep.

For more information about Photo-Ops, please visit:

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Photos provided by Gong Photography.

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