For most people, their college major is a decision made in the last few years of high school, or even the first couple years of college. For Jared Waisner, student, however, the decision to pursue his passion of photography and videography happened early.
“I’ve been doing photography and filmmaking since I was in the fifth grade,” Waisner said. “I had a little tiny camera back then. I started making Youtube videos that are pretty cringe-worthy now. I was a one-man show.”
After graduating high school at Lee Summit North, where he took photo and film classes, Waisner continued to study multimedia when he moved to Denver, Colorado to attend Colorado Film School. It was there that Waisner made the decision to stop seriously pursuing film and began primarily working with photography, and he dropped out of the school after two years.
“I’ve been through ups and downs since graduating high school, but I’m proud of myself for sticking to what I want to do,” Waisner said. “It’s so easy for people to not [pursue] an art major when they really want to, and I’m proud that I’m sticking it out and am working toward doing what I love for a living. I’m not sure of my major at the moment, but I’m still hoping it’s something to do with photography, videography or multimedia in some way.”
Although wedding photography is his main source of income, Waisner also balances a part time job with classes at the college, few of which will feed into his passion.
“I struggle to find time to think of ideas and brainstorm,” Waisner said. “In school, I feel like I’m forcing myself into a corner. I’m taking one class out of four this semester that actually correlates to what I want to do, so most of my days I’m just sitting in class, forcing myself to learn something that I’m not interested in, paying for credits that I don’t really need.”
Finding time to be creative can be difficult for a working college student. Waisner struggles with the feeling of being confined within school restrictions and losing the chance to explore creativity freely.
“I’m just being forced to be a square,” Waisner said. “When outside of class, I’m free and can do what I want to do, take pictures, plan fun activities and just be creative.”
Waisner finds inspiration through this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” The quote, he said, keeps him from changing his work to satisfy people around him.
“I’ve always struggled with insecurities about my work,” Waisner said. “If I could, I would love to harness the strength to release something and not worry about what people will say. The point is to edit the picture the way you want. If someone else would do it differently, then that’s just them, and they’re simply different from you. It’s supposed to be that way.”
For now, Waisner works as a freelance photographer. He states that he can do virtually anything his customers want photography-wise.
His business is currently called Jared Waisner Photography, although he’s hoping to switch the name to Life Through a Lens sometime in the near future; he also posts pictures on Instagram under the username @jaredwaisnerphotography.
“Technically, I offer photos for any occasion, but most of the time it’s senior pictures and weddings,” Waisner said. “I love to see candid moments, though; that’s part of the reason I’m not as into senior pictures, since you just go through the motions every time. What I look for in my photos are the moments between the poses. In a wedding, when the bride and groom are giving their vows or sharing a laugh or crying, that’s raw emotion, and that’s what I want to capture.”
One of Waisner’s customers, Alexis Keithly, hired him to take her senior pictures in 2015, and is hiring him again this year. The photos she got back, she said, were surprisingly quality for Waisner being a junior in high school at the time and having had no professional training.
“I absolutely love the photos [Waisner] did,” Keithly said. “Since that shoot, he’s continued to produce amazing photoshoots; he’s even going to do another photoshoot for my family later this month. He’s not only fun to work with, but is also flexible and professional, and extremely talented at finding what can make your photos look the best as far as lighting and other technical aspects.”
Despite positive customer reviews, Waisner tends to struggle with getting caught up in the opinions of others, typically about his work.
“I get really caught up in what other people think of me and my work,” Waisner said. “I let myself fall back because of it. It still affects how I would take pictures and how I think about my work. I’m extremely lucky, though, in that I’ve always been supported, especially by my family, in everything.”
While many parents may squirm at the thought of their child pursuing an art major, Jennifer Waisner felt the opposite. If anything, she pushed Waisner to follow his passion.
“I’ve always supported [Waisner’s] dreams of photography and videography,” Jennifer said. “I would recommend him to family and friends for photo sessions and encouraged him to go to Colorado Film School. I think he’s very talented, and he always shows his professionalism and creativity. I’m excited to see what the future holds for him.”
Whether it be travel photography, senior portraits or candid wedding moments, Waisner likes to take the look of reality and turn it into something more artistic.
“Everyone can see real life,” Waisner said. “If you take a picture of normal life and don’t change it, it’s going to be boring. Change up the colors, mess with the lighting: you can take an awesome picture, but after you edit it, it can turn out phenomenal. You can take real life and change it into art.”