Here's what the photography and poetry winners of the JUVEN Era Contest have to say about their craft, their process, community and themselves. Photography winner Sara Staker talks her photography journey, challenges; Poetry winner Ivi Hua talks rejection, her process, the meaning of her poem, and what's next on her TBR.
Briefly, who are you? (Feel free to shout out any social media handles and all that)
SS: "I am three things, and three things only: a raging feminist, a directioner, and your worst freaking nightmare". My tiktok is @sarastalking and my photography account is @sarastakerphotography 🤗
IH: Hi, my name is Ivi, and I write poetry and short stories, all that fun stuff! I've got an instagram writing account @livia.writes.stories, where you can find me and some of my work.
What has your photography/writing journey been like? What is your craft to you, and why do you do it?
SS: I started doing photography my freshman year of high school. My amazing teacher, Mr. Durka always supported and encouraged me to keep it up (please give me back my pentax Durka (and by my pentax I mean yours)). There have been times when I've gone out to take pictures and they didn't turn out how I wanted, and to be honest that can be really discouraging; however, these experiences helped me learn important things about angles, exposure, etc. The more photos I took, the more I fell in love with photography. It's something I'm really passionate about, and want to become better at.
IH: I started writing when I was in elementary school, and I took a poetry elective in middle school that really helped me start writing poems more seriously. My writing journey has been pretty straightforward, but I loved every second of it! Writing is an amazing way to express my emotions and bring the things I imagine to life, and I wouldn't give that up for the world. My writing is normally for myself, and I think I write for the sake of being able to create these pieces that can't truly exist anywhere else.
What's your favorite part of your process?
SS: I love editing my photos. I can only edit like 5 in one sitting before I become uninterested, but making my photos look clean and putting presets on them😩 I also love to make memes out of the pictures I take so💫
IH: My favorite part of my process is most likely right after the actual writing, where I get to see the piece completed and read it over. There's just such a satisfying feeling to it!
What challenges you most in?
SS: I struggle with being creative (or feeling like I'm creative enough). I like to come up with what my sister would call "edgy" photoshoots, and when I can't think of what to do, or it turns out to not be cool, it's really frustrating. Mostly, I just need to trust my abilities.
IH: The thing that challenges me the most when it comes to writing is most likely the struggle between having an idea and trying to bring it to life. Often, I find myself with a wonderful idea, but I don't know how to write it, and that's an obstacle I have trouble overcoming.
What is your piece, and what is it about? How does it relate to the theme, from your view?
IH: My piece is titled "fragile life, in three parts" and it's a three-part poetry piece meant to illustrate the arcs of emotions and responses to change. I think I wrote it as a way to express the way that I view change, and how that viewpoint has shifted over time.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
SS: Pinterest. I love pinterest. I would say I'm a maximalist, so I also get inspiration from my closet.
IH: A lot of my inspiration comes from the world around me and the emotions I find myself in contact with frequently. Along with this, other writers are amazing sources of inspiration, and I often find myself learning a lot from their works.
What is your perspective on wins and rejections?
SS: It's nice to succeed and feel good about your work, which can help keep you motivated. When you're rejected, It allows for self reflection and can motivate you to become better. I think that there is gain in both.
IH: I think a healthy amount of rejection is good for you, and I don't think that a no should define your value or your worth. Yeses are always wonderful, as they validate your hard work and the effort you put into your pieces.
Let's talk community: is there much community in photography? Both as a teen photographer, and as a photographer in general.
SS: I would say that there are a lot of people who share this interest. It's not like being on stan twitter, but there is still a community. As a teen photographer, it's very supportive. Photographers your same age, whether they are on the same level as you or not, uplift and encourage you. As a photographer in general, I think it's more hard to be a part of the community because there are some people who have been doing it professionally for years, so the skill level is very vast. Overall, I think that there is a lot of positivity in the photography community.
IH: The teen writing community is absolutely wonderful, and it's filled with so many talented and unique individuals and their works! Every single one of them in the community is wonderful, and I absolutely believe that a lot of them are going to change the world for the better.
What's something you wish more people knew about photography?
SS: DON'T PUT INSTAGRAM FILTERS ON THE PICTURES I TOOK OF YOU, ESPECIALLY AFTER I ALREADY PUT PRESETS ON. It can make a dope picture look trashy.
IH: I think a lot of people believe that they need to adhere to some sort of standards when they're writing, and I wish more people would know that you can write poetry about anything and everything you want to write about. Don't be afraid to start!
What's on your To Be Read?
IH: I have an absurd amount of books I need to get to, but books I'm looking forward to are Six of Crows, Serpent and Dove, Illuminae, and The Golden Compass!