Surrounded by picturesque scenery in Honolulu, Cyndia Lavik only has to look outside to find artistic inspiration. Surprisingly though, being a photographer in Hawaii can be difficult. “Living here is great for scenery, but I have to promote myself twice as hard to find work due to the number of photographers in the area,” she explains.
The strong competition in her field is in part what inspired Cyndia to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Photography from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division. She says, “By improving my knowledge on both the business aspects and the technical issues, I feel I am increasing my chances of getting hired.”
Cyndia attended The Art Institute of Seattle in the early 1990s before working in the music industry for several years. She occasionally photographed musicians for her job, and she began to realize her passion for photography. “I have had a variety of career changes. I find a lot of things interesting, like music, sports and travel, but photography has always been with me along the way.”
Cyndia chose to return to The Art Institute system of schools to study photography, and attending school online was the obvious choice. “Remaining close to my husband and daughter is my first priority,” she says. “The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division keeps me connected to the mainland, while also allowing me to remain with my family in Hawaii.”
“It’s not easy being a parent, student, wife and having a professional career,” she admits, but she’s glad to be earning her degree and has even taken on a leadership role in the school’s Student Photographic Society.
“My training has started to pay off with recognition and compliments from potential and current clients. I feel a lot more confident in my decisions and interaction with clients,” she says.
In fact, Cyndia recently assisted on a shoot for Hawaii Sport Magazine, and two of her photos were featured on the cover of the May 2013 issue. Cyndia had previously photographed several of the magazine’s staff members, and, because they were impressed with her work, they invited her to be the second photographer for the shoot.
The shoot started at 6:30am and lasted until sunset, involving three locations and two sets of models.
Cyndia learned a lot from the experience, especially the importance of listening to direction from clients and creative directors, which is how her shot--actually a last minute idea--ended up the cover.
She also strongly advocates networking to find clients. “I keep involved in my community, hand out business cards and share portfolio photos on my iPhone to meet new contacts,” she says. She also collaborates with a writer to propose articles and imagery together.
For other students, she says, “There will be days when you feel like quitting, but every class that I have taken so far has been helpful in my creative process. Just remember that every class is getting you one step closer toward your personal and professional goals.”
Two of Cyndia's photos from the shoot are featured above. To see more of her work, visit her website or view the magazine cover and pages 25-31.
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