Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Through the Student Lens

A deeper dive into the student behind the cameras at Paly
Photo+by%3A+Kofi+Kim
Photo by: Kofi Kim
4 MIN READ

Palo Alto High School’s diverse variety of student activities allows students to engage with the campus community and explore the

ir interests. This breath of activities yields unforeseen opportunities for people who capture the moments — every touchdown, choir solo and robotics competition. Surprisingly, it’s student photographers who have managed to capture a larger share of this blossoming market, rather than adult professionals.

Kofi Kim joined the Paly photography community as a new junior this year. Lacking the opportunity to shoot football from his previous school in Portland, he was excited to jump into something that is such a prominent part of Paly culture. 

“It’s really fun to take [photos of] an event that everyone has experienced and put my own artistic spin on it while editing the photos,” Kim said. 

Looking around the field, you can find a variety of multimedia students gathered in many areas, poised to capture different moments. According to Kim, some of them have formed a group where they can connect, talk and exchange ideas and tips. 

“It’s a lot more fun having a little squad down there where we can give each other tips since not all of us have years and years of experience, we’re just high schoolers,” Kim said. “So we can kind of fill in knowledge for each other and help to take photos, moving as a pack.”

Junior Gabe Boudtchenko works alongside Kim, as they are close friends with shared passions. He found that capturing these moments stemmed from a passion, rather than an interest in business. 

 “I started off recording my sister’s piano recitals and eventually my own piano recitals,” Boudtchenko said. “After that, I eventually started making little music videos to songs that I liked at the time. From there, it just grew.” 

Specifically, Boudtchenko feels that videography allows him to focus on honed in parts of a sports game that might not be obvious to viewers in the stands.

“For sports, [videos] provide a really unique way to memorize these events,” Boudtchenko said. “You’re capturing all these little moments that the players had, and creating a new perspective. It’s not even all about the big plays, it’s also the stuff that happens on the side of the field.”

However, according to Senior Max Rabbitt-Tomita, he finds that these bigger, important moments can be extremely rewarding to capture as well. 

“At the football game, I got my friend’s first touchdown, and it was on senior night,” Rabbitt-Tomita said. “It’s a really cool moment that you can have forever preserved.”

At the football game, I got my friend’s first touchdown, and it was on senior night. It’s a really cool moment that you can have forever preserved.

Another well-known Paly student photographer Tyler Wong specializes in sports photography. As an athlete himself, Wong appreciates getting his own sports photos and hopes to spread that happiness to other athletes. 

“[Paly] having really good sports has helped a lot,” Wong said. “It’s made me want to cover all their games, made me want to be there to support them, and it’s also given me a way to grow as a photographer and as a person.”

Paly is well known for producing talented rising multimedia artists, partly because of its plethora of resources. They have guided student photographers in their process of learning.

“ I took all three years of photo at PALY,” Rabbitt-Tomita said. “The teachers, Ms. Gallagher, especially the last year [of photography maybe insert the class], have been super helpful, pushing me to do more of my photography and line up really creative stuff.”

Paly cultivates a community that keeps the photography environment alive, not only because of the provided resources and opportunities but also by maintaining a culture that truly encourages the work of students. This is helpful to a lot of aspiring students, either amateurs or those with more years of experience. 

“There is some competition or stigma that [from being] young,” Boudtchenko said. “So far, it hasn’t taken away many opportunities or restricted me from doing anything.” 

With the fall sports season coming to an end, many photographers found a business in taking students’ senior portraits. Even though many have created a workspace out of their passion, they’re still able to appreciate the root of why they enjoy the media form.

“I love seeing people’s faces when I deliver these photos, whether it’s sports action shots, or their senior portraits,” Wong said. “I mean, getting paid is a bonus. I’m getting paid for what I love to do. But that’s not the main reason why I do it.”

I love seeing people’s faces when I deliver these photos.

While Palo Alto’s local community contributes to the widespread audience that students receive, there are other ways for students to expand.

“Posting a lot on social media has helped me grow a lot,” Wong said. “Taking photos at other football games, for other schools like Mountain View, Wilcox, and Homestead has helped me grow a bigger audience.” 

Beyond Paly’s atmosphere for aspiring photographers and videographers, just being around people who share a passion is extremely influential.

“Just all the people I meet, all the photographers, all the creative minds that I meet, are all looking to help you,” Wong said. “It’s just an amazing community.”

Palo Alto professional Photographer Karen Ambrose Hickey attends high school football games frequently, mainly focusing on the sports culture at Paly. Starting at the age of 10, Hickey now pursues photography as a professional hobby, encouraging students to keep creating as frequently as possible

“[When my kids started playing sports] I started to photograph and I kept wanting to get better,” Hickey said.

Even as a hobby, Hickey feels that the professional atmosphere is just as supportive as the one that Paly has.

“For Stanford athletics, I have an amazing community of photographers,” Hickey said. “They’re [the professional photographers] just inspiring and incredible and everybody is so generous with their time. I have found nothing but generous, inclusive, and helpful [people].”

Despite how it can be intimidating, she advises students to seek out opportunities and take advantage of the supportive atmosphere. 

“It’s all about putting aside your pride and asking for help.” Hickey said.

Hickey is quite involved with the Paly sports community, and she’s aware that there are many young aspiring photographers on the field next to her. 

“Look for what’s different,” Hickey said. “There’s an infinite number of poses and mostly, probably all of them have been photographed. Can you find something a little different to tell the same story?” 

 

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About the Contributor
Kayley Ko, Staff Writer
2023-2024 Staff Writer I joined C Mag because I really like how design based the magazine is, plus there are so many interesting aspects of student life like music, arts, and culture to write about. One of the things I love most about C Mag is the family-like community that the staff embodies. My favorite thing about journalism is how it's a combination of story telling, reporting, and design. In my free-time I like to dance, hang out with my friends, watch sunsets, and listen to music!