Recent M.A. grad takes on college
…and her own photography business
Flicking between settings, Rachel Worthman (’12) walked down the dock at her cabin in McGreggor, Minn., with her mother’s Nikon D80 in hand, snapping photo after photo.
It was a warm day three summers ago as Worthman and her brother, sophomore Harris Worthman, kept a close eye on their mixed breed Hunter, who was notorious for running away.
Hunter’s fur became heavy with water as he jumped in and out of the lake. With a great shake, the droplets of water flew from his golden fur.
As the water flew, his lip curled and the pink of his ear was shown by his movement while Worthman lifted her camera and made a simple moment into a piece of art.
“After that week, the Nikon and I became inseparable and that photograph of Hunter remains one of my favorite and most iconic photographs still,” said Worthman. “That’s one of the best that I took from a really young age, I was 14 or 15 when I took it. It just captured so much of him and it’s great because now he’s gone. My family and I just love looking at it.”
Worthman’s mother Jeannie, who has also been practicing photography since a class in college, also loves this photo. “[It] resonates with me for sentimental reasons,” said Jeannie. “It was clear to me early on she had an eye for capturing an image that tells a story.”
From these early moments grew a passion. Encouraged by her mother, Worthman also took a photography class in her freshman year after she had to leave behind her ballet dancing due to knee injuries and the stress involved.
Since then, she has not only developed her own photographic style, but launched her own website centering around her photography business (www.rachelworthman.com).
Worthman is currently attending Northeastern University in Boston and is working on a Bachelors of Science in business administration as she is hoping to own and manage her own business after her studies are through.
“I’ve most likely been accepted to the university of my choice because of my portfolio,” she said. “[Also], I’ve developed relationships with companies where they make greeting cards with the photography I give them. And I’m working for my school [in] their photography club and hopefully doing some work for the school magazine.”
After college, she is hoping to work with magazines and online companies along with her business.
A good portion of Worthman’s work up until this point has been portraits, which she prefers to landscapes and still life.
“I like portraits because there’s more of a story and personality behind a photograph because of the people it captures,” said Worthman. “I’ve always wanted to have a two-way relationship with my photos, and landscape/still life photography is limited in that it’s very one-sided. I see more dimension in photographing people.”
One way that Worthman developed creativity was in art classes with art teacher Nathan Stromberg during high school.
Having Worthman in classes such as painting and AP studio art, Stromberg saw her creative ability from the start and knows how different types of art contribute to one another.
“Each [type of art] forces you to see the world in a different way,” said Stromberg. “It teaches you a new way of seeing. In painting, you’re learning about colors and contrasts. In drawing, you’re looking at lines and shapes, values and darks and lights. The more you draw and paint the better your sense of composition and what works in a frame is.”
Still, Stromberg saw a natural talent in Worthman.
“She had a natural eye for viewing things from the beginning,” he said. “She was just really, really good. I don’t know how much taking classes here is responsible for that, she was just always really good at it and, more than that, just really interested in it. [She’s] just constantly working.”
Part of Worthman’s work is editing thousands and thousands of pictures, which can be a grueling task.
“Editing a portrait session takes a serious amount of time,” she said. “I can expect to spend at least ten hours from start to finish editing photos. I generally expect to have close to a thousand stills from a shoot and narrow it down at first to 300 or so and end with 30 stunning images. And from there [I] rate each on a scale from one to five, then begin altering the colors, lighting, sharpness, and everything in between.”
As expected, editing can be boring and tiresome, though worth it.
“After the first few hours of staring at my computer screen have gone by, I begin to get sick of altering the same dials and perfecting every little thing. I just need to give myself a break from the photos, so I don’t go crazy! But there’s nothing more rewarding after all the hard work and time spent than seeing the finished product.”
As someone who also enjoys photography, Jeannie looks to her daughter for tips and techniques.
“It’s wonderful to see my daughter enjoy something I have always found enthralling and intriguing,” she said. “Our mutual love of photography gives us a common topic for sharing our research, techniques and perspectives. But most importantly, it keeps us connected. Wherever we are in the world, we share images we have captured in our daily life regardless of whether they are beautiful, mundane or just silly.”
Though she appreciates the joy of everyday communication, Jeannie is really impressed by Rachel’s unique viewpoint.
“She has a knack at capturing a scene from a perspective I would never have considered,” said Jeannie. “Rachel will continue to be my inspiration. When I see Rachel’s work, I am in awe of how she can capture an amazing image from something so ordinary.”
Visit www.rachelworthman.com to see more.
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