It’s the question every soon-to-be or recent high school grad dreads being asked; What are your plans for after high school?
While the majority of teens will respond with a less than sure reply comprised of muted panic and uncertainty, there is a minority within the teenage population that will present with a sturdy and confident statement about their future plans.
Alan Leung, newly-graduated alumni of Glenlawn Collegiate high school, belongs in one such minority. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Leung is a talented and passionate photographer that hopes to create a successful career out of something that began as a hobby. He plans on attending PrairieView School of Photography this upcoming fall, a private school that aims to educate and help mould aspiring photographers into accomplished professionals.
Upon being asked why he decided to start photography in the first place, he answers: “It was honestly just a curiosity thing. I was close with someone that was into it and one day I asked if she might be able to book a camera for me to take out at our high school. After that first initial shoot, I watched a lot of YouTube videos on photography and read articles to learn more about the basics and the different tricks and techniques, the different camera bodies that are out there and lenses and how to capture desired images.”
When asked why he decided to attend photography school, he explained that he wants to learn as much as he can about photography, though simply listening to him speak about taking photos illustrates very clearly that he knows a great deal to begin with. “Being able to be shown certain things by professionals is still a lot better than trying to learn things completely on your own or just from the internet. You can’t have a conversation with a video.” Leung explains.
The photography industry is expected to see an estimated number of over 4,600 official job openings spanning the next seven years across Canada, though this estimate is likely much higher when taking into account the numerous clients in need of smaller shoots such as family or wedding photos.
However, as the ratio of the number of photographers to job availabilities almost always shows a surplus of photographers, photography is considered a competitive field, with many individuals not able to generate a steady or desired income from their profession. With this in mind, Leung states that the reason he still decided to take it on as a career was simply because of his overall passion for the profession. “I’m quite driven and invested.” Leung says, quirking a smile.
With the assistance of social media outlets such as Instagram, Leung has gained a following and has managed to advertise his services as a photographer, already landing several jobs for his skills. The shoots are good experience and a confirmation of his ability as a photographer. “I like taking pictures of people that they genuinely like. Ones where they can look at themselves and really feel good about what they look like.” When asked about his favourite thing about taking photos, he answers, “The overall experience itself of taking a photo that captures a moment in time is pretty cool. It creates something that you can look at over and over again and remember. Plus, it’s very fun.”
When asked if he knew what he wanted to do after high school prior to engaging in photography, he states that he didn’t have anything concrete in mind. “I mean, I had different ideas and options I’d think about of course, but nothing that I was as sure of as photography.”
Many teenagers accompany thoughts about their futures with feelings of nervous anticipation and doubt, and this is to be expected. The daunting task that is becoming an adult and making something of yourself is certainly not one to treat lightly, but perhaps the answer to what you’ll be happiest and most successful at isn’t as hard to figure as it seems. Upon being asked if he had any
advice for people that are thinking about taking the thing they consider a hobby and pursuing it as a career, Leung has some advice.
“Take every opportunity you get, earn as many connections as you can so that you can get to the place that you want to be in your career. All the work you do, it’ll pay off one day.”