Photographer Builds Passion over Long Term


Vaughn Luthringer

Alicia Long’s passion for photography has been on the rise for many years.

Long said, “My dad has always had a camera,” she said. “I would always use his and just play around with it.” Long explained that she would take pictures of her dog, experimenting with the technology.

When it came time for Photo 1, Long learned gradually. “Photo 1 was learning how to use Photoshop, and we started just shading colors, literally drawing them out,” Long said. She explained that Photo 1 mainly focused on editing, and less on operating the camera. “We would learn the basics; in Photo 1 we didn’t know how to use the cameras really. It would be on automatic,” she said.

The following year Long signed up for Advanced Placement Photo. There, she built on her foundation. “We got to Advanced [Photo], and we learned how to use the aperture, and all the different settings to alter the light,” Long explained.

Today, Long brings her enthusiasm to life during sixth period, in Mrs. Sweeney’s AP class. “It was Photo 1, and then, Advanced Photo, and now I’m in AP Photo,” Long explained.

Mrs. Sweeney, Long’s Advanced Photo ROP teacher, said, “Photoshop skills and tools have gotten better. She does really good work consistently.”

Since sophomore year, Long’s first year in Photo, her style has developed. “We were taught more over the years how to use photography, like how to take pictures and how to edit the photos,” Long said. “I’ve also started using my camera at home, and learned how to use that and everything. Being able to do more makes me more interested in it, and I learn more.

Julie Waters, a friend of Long’s who was in Photo 1 and Advanced Photo with her, has also seen a change in Long’s work over the years. She saw the evolution of Long’s photography, “just because the type of work we had to do changed in the two years,” she said. “She did get better.”

Every artist has a style, including Long. “Usually I change the colors to alter how [the photo] looks, so it looks more abstract,” she said. These types of transformations in  photography are partly why she is so attracted to photo classes. “I like [Photo] because you take a picture and you can make a flower look like something else, or you can alter how something looks in real life to make it look how you want it to look.”

Sweeney is familiar with Long’s style as well, saying that “she uses color really well, and she’s got a strong sense of composition.”

“She’s very artistic in her approach to subjects, and she’s really gotten better with Photoshop,” Sweeney said.

Waters describes Long’s style as revolving around elements in the outdoors. “[She likes] portraits and nature; she likes flowers and animals, too,” she said.

Long’s process in Sweeney’s class is relatively simple, consisting of mainly editing in Adobe Photoshop. She enjoys using the program, and creating her own, unique art. “Usually I change the colors, alter how it looks so it looks more abstract,” Long said. 

“I don’t have Photoshop at home; I only edit at school, but I’ll take photos outside of class,” Long said.

When it comes to class time, Long stands out. “She’s really focused; she uses her classroom time with a lot of her Photoshop images,” Sweeney said. Sweeney also noted Long’s kindness, mentioning that she is “very generous about sharing her knowledge.”

Long’s work has earned her a few awards, too, one being an Honorary Mention in a Lamorinda art contest. Isabelle Owens, another friend of Long’s, got a chance to see the piece Long entered. “I think she did it in the lighting lab, and she took a blue piece of construction paper and put it behind the cherry blossom,” she said.

In terms of future goals in photography for Long, she envisions something different than what she is currently working on in Sweeney’ class. “I like editing photos more than I really like taking photos,” Long explained. “I think it would be cool to have a design job, like in graphic design,” she said. “I don’t even know what jobs have that, but, not in photography.”

“She’s always looking to learn more, and she definitely [problem-solves],” Sweeney said.