Life Through the Lens: A Page on Paige

While many art works may take years to create, within fractions of a second Paige Ward is able to encapsulate a beautiful moment in time.

Ever since the sixth grade, Ward  has been taking pictures, but like all others, her skill took time to develop.

“I got my first camera when I was probably in sixth grade, and it was this little tiny thing, and I just took it to the zoo, the thing that normal kids do, and then I got a real one when I was in eighth grade as a present for my graduation. So, that’s when I really started to pick up with it, and I was terrible at first. Then, it took off from there,” Ward, a junior, explained.

There are several factors that go into becoming a good photographer. Ms. Allison Molloy, Ward’s AP photo teacher at LHS, described the key attributes of being a good photographer. These include being open to circumstances, being observant of the world, using light properly, and making a statement that might connect or offend people.

“A good photographer, first and foremost, understands composition and how to organize an image in a way that makes best use of design to communicate his or her statement, decisive moment or not,” Molloy explained.

Like all types of art, photography is subjective, and it can be difficult to decipher what specifically makes someone a good artist. However, Ward possesses certain aptitudes that make her a talented photographer.

“Paige approaches her photo shoots with a vision, yet she’s open to what may happen during the shoot with her models,” Molloy stated. “She connects with her models, which is not a trait everyone has as a photographer. She also understands how important lighting, color and tone is in creating dynamic and aesthetically pleasing images,” Molloy explained.

For any LHS student who spends time aimlessly scrolling through Instagram, it’s hard to miss a photo of their peers captured in time on Ward’s photography account, “redtides.”

I used to follow photography accounts for inspiration when I was just starting out and eventually made my own,” explained Ward.

Ward’s enchanting photographs are beginning to get recognition around the world. Her photographs have been featured four times on “waitingontheworld,” an Instagram photography features account, which has more than half a million followers, and also on “beachfilm,” another photography features account, which has more than 200,000 followers.

“It’s really gratifying to be featured on accounts like those because it’s recognition, and it’s people that are commenting and liking like 10,000, [to] 12,000 times, and I’m like ‘this is nuts.’ I don’t try to have a huge following on Instagram because it’s not a goal of mine to create photos for Instagram, but it’s still really cool to get that recognition,” Ward stated.

Originality is one of the hardest barriers that artists have to overcome. This is growing increasingly more difficult as photography becomes one of the more popular forms of art. Ward describes this as the hardest challenge she faces.  

“The challenge I hit the most is originality because there are so many photographers, and, especially with our new digital world, a lot of people are taking photos. A lot of people are switching to that medium because it translates more than I guess you could say than painting and drawing at this point in time. So, a lot of people are doing it because it’s there and it’s accessible, and so you have to find what you do so your photos are recognizable to other people and they’re your photos, your ideas, and your creativity in a picture,” Ward said.

Although not as difficult as combating originality, another struggle for Ward is finding a model that fits her vision.

“I do struggle to find models because I have a specific look for my photos, so for example, like maybe a photo I want to take I want someone that has red hair and a lot freckles. It’s because of an aesthetics thing and background thing or something else, and I usually pull from my friends because doing that with strangers is a lot harder to manage. So, that’s definitely a problem for me sometimes, and accessibility is a huge issue because people in high school are busy,” she said.

Becca Smrz is a junior who is a friend and model of Ward’s. She described a typical day in one of Ward’s photoshoot.

“Basically I’ll just go over to her house, and we’ll get ready. I’ll probably fix my makeup up and change, and we’ll go outside and go where she wants to go, and she’ll get her camera ready and take a few pictures to make sure the settings are good. Then we’ll shoot, and it ranges from 15 minutes to an hour depending on if we find other cool places to go. Like, Lake Forest we’ll go [to], and it will take about an hour,” Smrz stated.

In addition to being a talented photographer, Ward is also known for being a pleasant person to be around, according to her friends and teachers. Smrz describes her as an “awesome,” “outgoing” and “funny” person.

Ms. Molloy describes her as “forthright and blunt, but in the best way. She speaks her mind and takes constructive criticism, using it to her advantage. She has high standards for her photography, yet she also doesn’t take herself too seriously. I think this guarded yet playful approach to life makes her approachable and open to new people, especially models in front of her camera.”