Behind the Camera: Abby Cook ‘22

First-year Abby Cook, The DePauw’s photo editor for next semester, has been interested and active in photography for many years. She brought this talent onto campus with her in the fall and her passion for photojournalism has only blossomed from there. This curly-haired cutie (the picture above being an exception) was kind enough to sit down with Her Campus and talk about this experience.

Her Campus: Abigail! How has your first semester been so far?

Abby Cook: Hmmm. More difficult than I anticipated, but there have been obstacles I’ve been able to overcome to say the least. And that doesn’t mean I’ve been thriving, that means I’ve been having a difficult time but managed to stay alive.

HC: So I know you’re very much involved with the newspaper The DePauw. How has that experience been for you?

AC: I am, and it’s been overwhelming because, again, I took on too much. I write, I design, and I photograph, but I would like to have a focus in photography more so than the other two. Luckily, I’m receiving the position of photo editor, so I will be most dedicated to that aspect of the newspaper. I really hope I can dedicate more time to that sphere and put more focus into it so that it improves. And we need more photographers, by the way. I can teach.

HC: And how long have you been doing photography?

AC: So I started in high school really around my sophomore year. I wanted to be on yearbook, so I thought it was time. And I feel like a lot of people have an interest in photography because of social media, Instagram particularly, but don’t exactly know how that really works, all the nuts and bolts of photography, because there is more than just taking a picture. There’s a lot of artistic and creative and stylistic aspects behind the camera, and I like to focus on that. It’s an artistic outlook for me, which is something I can’t do in the form of drawing or other artistic mediums. So, anyways, I started for yearbook so I could really bring something to my high school yearbook. I went to IU to take classes for photography and journalism, or photojournalism in general, and I was taught by an amazing professor who really took me under his wing and basically taught me everything I know. My dad has always had an interest in photography, but he likes the more technical aspects of it, like knowing the functions of the camera and having a collection of different devices. Like I said, I’m more into the artsy elements behind it, like certain properties of photography like depth of field and rules of thirds – which you should always break rules in photography, I think. So yeah, more artsy, and that professor at IU really gave me that outlook that I never had before. And I have so much respect for people who are self-taught photographers, just because I could never do that.

HC: Okay, so here’s a random question. What kind of camera do you use and do you think anyone can make photography work with any camera? What are your thoughts?

AC: Okay, yeah, so this is a debate between a lot of photographers, but I think in this age, most would agree that it does not matter the equipment that you have; it matters the eye you bring to it, which is, again, something I emphasize greatly in my own photography: having an eye rather than focusing on what you have in your hands. I have an EOS 7D. It’s beautiful. It’s a great camera, and I’m used to, at least for my high school yearbook, having the nicest camera in the room. And people do expect a lot from you if you have the nicest camera on your staff. Oftentimes I do find myself in those situations because I am lucky enough to have a camera that my dad had handed down to me. But, like any other photographer, I’m never completely satisfied with my work ever. It doesn’t have anything to do with a lack of quality, it’s always a question of how could I have cropped this better, how could I have shot this better, how could I have made this less blurry. Again, it doesn’t really have to do with what you’re using because you can manipulate everything, like lighting or structure. It’s all within the frame, and you decide what to put in it. Whether or not that’s with a 7D or a 5D, it doesn’t matter.

HC: To conclude, do you have any tips for people interested in photography or beginners?

AC: Oh, for sure! My advice would be to pursue it, because I think photography doesn’t become anything in your life until you set aside time to do it. For me, it was always like, “oh, I would love to know how to use a camera,” but it took me going and dedicating my time in classes at IU for that to happen. So just pursue it in that sense and take time to do it.