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College student spends vacations putting camera to good use

Staff writer

He might have to hang out of an airplane or demonstrate rockin’ guitar strokes, but it is all part of making memorable senior portraits for photographer Isaac Fast, of Goessel. His goal is to create a memorable photo session for each person he meets.

“One of the biggest things people remember about their senior pictures is if it was fun or not,” he said. “I try to get a feel for what their interests are, and then have a lot of energy and enthusiasm to do what they want.”

Fast, currently a sophomore at Goshen College in Indiana, took more than four senior portrait packages in 2010 and eight in 2011.

“Since I am from Goessel, people just hear about what I do from word of mouth,” he said. “They call and we find a time we can get together. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from friends, high school connections, and people who find me on Facebook.”

Fast schedules most senior portrait sessions during the summer or on college vacation times during the year. Over the 2011 Christmas break, he took senior pictures for Alex Schmidt, Goessel High School senior, and met him in a pasture not far from his rural Hillsboro farm. He was able to capitalize on a breathtaking winter Kansas sunset as a backdrop.

“I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures of nature, landscapes, and wildlife,” Fast said. “So I have some places to go that I know work for natural backgrounds. But if my customer has an idea, I am always willing to go with it.”

Fast said he also rents studio time in Wichita where, for an hourly charge, he can access a nice selection of background setups and props.

For equipment, Fast relies on a Canon camera, a variety of lenses, and a system that utilizes two remote flashes. He also made his own mobile “soft box” which gives him close-up portrait lighting, no matter where he might be shooting pictures.

“I learned how to do this by looking at other peoples pictures and figuring out how they created the things I like,” he said. “I do some Photoshop and basic touchups, but mostly I just try to get a feel for each person’s tastes and go with that.”

Fast does not provide prints for his customers, but rather creates a digital file for them, and then recommends a site or place for them to get the prints they desire.

“Everything is more digital now and we can take as many pictures as needed or wanted without any extra charges,” he said.

Fast, who took his own high school senior portraits two years ago with the use of a timer, tri-pod, and some parental help, is also not limited by imagination.

“Probably one of my most memorable moments so far has been when we went up with a WWII pilot,” he said. “I was in an open cockpit and in order to get a picture of the guy in front of me, I had to point my camera upside down and lean around him as we flew parallel to the ground. That picture turned out so cool!”

Fast is pursuing a communications and graphic design major in college and said photography could well be a future career.

“I don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “But photography could definitely be a career option. I would like to add weddings and family portraits to what I do, but it is hard to work around college schedules right now.”

He said the best thing about taking senior portraits, was the interaction with people.

“I just enjoy learning to know people and what they like, and then figuring out how to capture that in pictures which they will remember for a lifetime.”

Last modified Jan. 5, 2012

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