Paving his own way: self taught student finds a love for photography

May 20, 2018

“The best thing about when I go out for a shoot is the mindset that I get in,” Nick Lemperis, junior and photographer, said. “Sometimes when I go out alone, I lose all track of time. I’ll drive around Lake Zurich looking for random moments to photograph and when I find them, I can be out there for hours. This sounds cliche, but it’s those moments where I’m by myself when I can actually learn a lot about myself too.”

Lemperis’ adventures around Lake Zurich, however, do not only teach him about himself. His photos, from various adventures around town and other outings, have garnered him praise from classmates, family, and multiple awards, according to Kristen LaJeunesse, art teacher and mentor.

“Those awards are more than just awards,” LaJeunesse said. “They represent the kind of kid and photographer that Nick is. He’s a really hard worker with just a natural eye to notice the beauty of the world around him. He goes out there and enters these art competitions and tries to take photos that tell stories- no one makes him. So when he wins, it’s not just symbolic of his artistic ability but also his hard work ethic too.”

Lemperis was not always winning awards when he first started taking photos, he said. His interest in photography first stemmed from taking photos on his iPod in middle school, and many of the photos were what he considered failures. Practice, according to Lemperis, is what helped him eventually improve in confidence and skill in taking photos.

“I’m lucky to have a really nice Canon now but I started taking photos on an iPod and edited them using a really tacky App Store thing,” Lemperis said. “But I think I had to go through that phase to get to where I am now because photography has been a growth process for me. I had to go through the bad phase to push myself to become better.”

Lemperis describes spending his free time on YouTube, researching tutorials. Through the guidance of well-informed photographers, Lemperis learned how to work with shutter speed, different apertures, and other settings. Lemperis, unlike others, has the ability to describe himself as mostly self-taught.

“Sometimes I see his photos and I feel a lot of respect for him because I see things I didn’t teach him being used in his work. It’s all stuff he went out of his want to learn,” LaJeunesse said. “He goes a step above and beyond his peers to take truly awesome photos by teaching himself how to get better and learning skills outside of class. It’s awesome and it produces great work.”

Lemperis believes the improvement in the quality of his work should be attributed to the new camera his parents gifted to him just this past year to support him.

“I had to save up my own money to get a really small digital camera and it was okay but not great,” Lemperis said. “My parents, especially my mom, really supports me in this though and saw how much I cared about this. They let me shoot at my siblings games and on family vacations and they understood, so they bought me a new camera and its great.”

Lemperis and LaJeunesse, however, both agree the best camera only works with a creative mind, something LaJeunesse believes Nick definitely has. Kim Lemperis, Lemperis’ mother, has noticed Nick’s artistic eye herself.

“Photography and the things he captures just comes really naturally to him,” Lemperis’ mother said. “What he’s looking at and what you’re looking at and the way he takes pictures of these things is in a way that other people just [don’t].”

Lemperis’ mother mentioned that her son comes from a creative background and believes having him grow up around art inspired him to follow the same path.

“We have a lot of creativity in our family and I think it’s [inspired] Nick,” Lemperis’ mother said. “We have an aunt who is an art teacher and another who’s the creative director for an ad agency, and we have a grandpa who is also into art. So Nick has seen creativity in the people he looks up to and I’m glad he possesses some of his own too.”

The support for his work, from faculty and family alike, is what continually motivates Lemperis to pursue art. Although him and his mother both agree he still has some time before deciding on his career, they know photography will always stay with him and he wishes to have it in his life to some degree for a long time.

“I can see Nick doing something in the arts because his creative is such a natural thing for him. He has a gift and love for art and it’s something a lot of people don’t have,” Lemperis’ mother said. “People take it for granted but for him it’s just who he is- an artist.”

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