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Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Junior Kaylie Clem plans on returning to The Feather her senior year, her third consecutive year as a photojournalist.

This past year I have been on an incredible journey of personal growth, both as a photographer but also as a person. As a quiet sophomore, I timidly joined The Feather, not truly knowing what I was getting myself into. My time on the team has taught me that growth is a never ending concept, team work really does make the dream work, and hard work pays off.

Thinking back to my sophomore year to where I am now, I still have a hard time comprehending how much I have grown, as a photojournalist, photographer and individual.

As I reflect on my past two years on The Feather, my heart is filled with memories. It’s safe to say there has been ups and downs, but in the end, I wouldn’t trade a single second of being on this team for the world.

When I was first starting out, there were many times I would feel extremely discouraged looking at my pictures, telling myself there is no way I could ever become a good photographer. There were also times stress from the work load felt like too much and I wanted to quit.

One of the many valuable things my advisers Kori Friesen and Greg Stobbe have taught me is practice makes perfect. After two years of practicing, I gradually became more confident. Not only have I gained confidence in my ability, but also as a person. Being a photojournalist there is no hiding, you have to walk on stage in chapel, into classes and make sure your subject feels comfortable while photographing them. 

Feather Staff

Clem celebrates with advisers Greg Stobbe (left) and Kori Friesen after receiving the Gold Crown Award.

Through practice, I have discovered my own photography style as well as skills to tackle large work loads. I have taken an uncountable number of images, allowing me many opportunities to improve and practice. The other half of photojournalism is writing, which is another skill that has been immensely strengthened because of my time on The Feather.

This year, I was really overwhelmed with how well our team worked together. In my previous year on The Feather, our team was not nearly as close as we are this year. I would consider my teammates best friends and practically family. These experiences have taught me one of the most valuable life skill there is, teamwork.

Friesen has also taught me ways to market and run social media. After posting at least four Instagram posts per week, for almost two years now, I have learned many skills on how to utilize social media. At first, I was never sure what was “news worthy” or what to say. But after much practice, I have learned new tricks to keep the audience captivated.

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

Clem shares some of her favorite memories from this year.

This skill is something that I can utilize in college and future careers. Marketing is a life skill that I can use no matter what profession I go into. In college, I plan on majoring in education and minoring in photography. It’s my dream to own my own photography business one day. All of the many useful skills I have learned these last two years, and will continue to learn next year, will be so helpful in my future career.

This year I took the first step at creating my own photography business. At the beginning of the year Friesen encouraged two of my closest friends and teammates Julia Fikse, ’19, and Blake Deffenbacher, ’20, along with myself, to start our own photography Instagram accounts. At first my pictures were not cohesive and I never liked the picture’s captions. Gradually I began to figure out my photography style and push myself to create interesting and unique images. Friesen has invested so much in me and my teammates, preparing and training us for professional photography.

A photography skill I used to never feel comfortable in was shooting portraits. I used to dread hearing the words, “We need a head shot” because I would constantly feel uncomfortable positioning my subject, only to imagine how awkward my subject felt.

During several “Photo Adventures” throughout the year, Friesen taught me how to position my subject and most importantly, how to make them feel comfortable. She taught us to talk to our subject and constantly say things to reassure them and make them feel confident. Finding textured backgrounds is another valuable lessons I have learned from Friesen this year.

Feather Staff

At recent FC NOTS, Clem poses with her photojournalism team.

The Feather has provided so many incredible opportunities I never would’ve been presented otherwise. I have had the honor of photographing Denise Kiernan, author journalist and producer, Art of Life Cancer Foundation events, endless sports games and my favorite, famous landmarks on our Feather takes New York trip. I never would’ve imagined I’d have the once in a life time opportunity to travel to NYC with my team to compete for a national acclaimed award, not once, but twice!

This year has held so may wonderful memories, many thanks to The Feather. I have created and grown so many incredible friendships this year and learned so much. From throwing surprise parties to having dance party breaks, most days I leave the lab sore from laughing.

A piece of advice I’d like to give to any future photojournalist is always be ready to learn. Friesen and Stobbe have so much knowledge that they can share, you just have to be willing to listen. Have an open mind to anything they have to teach. Also, be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone, that’s the best way to grow your skills. Preserver through the hardest days and stay at it! The Feather takes a crazy amount of work, but if you keep at it, you will be so proud of what you accomplished in the end.

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Clem thanks her “Photo Family” for encouraging her throughout the year.

There are so many people I would like to thank, but I have to begin with my two mentors. Friesen and Stobbe never gave up on me and always encouraged me. They always seemed to find a way to make me smile when I’m sad and push me to do more than I ever thought I could.

Before The Feather I never knew what a passion I had for photography, and I’d like to thank Kori Friesen for making this life-changing discovery possible. Thank you for always pushing me to be the best me possible and encouraging me when I need it most.

Thank you Stobbe for always pointing out our flaws, in the best way. I appreciate you always wanting to make sure my work is the best it can be and constantly pushing me out of my comfort zone. But most importantly I am so thankful that you always create a fun environment no matter what task we’re doing.

Robert Hyatt also deserves a huge thank you. Nothing that The Feather produces would be possible without his amazing electronic skills. Lastly, I would like to thank my teammates. This year would have never been possible without my “Photo Family” by my side. Thank you for encouraging me on my hardest days, and making me laugh even when I didn’t want to. Thank you for making each crazy day a little less crazy and lot more fun.

Slideshow below includes some of Clem’s favorite images from throughout the year.

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To read more end of year reflections check out End of year reflection: Blake Deffenbacher.

For more Feather photos, visit media, photos 2017-18

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