Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Brooke Powell and Debra Medin: Ladies Behind the Lens

Name: Brooke Powell

Hometown: Champlin, MN

Major: Advertising     

Year: Freshman

Name: Debra Medin

Hometown: Nerstrand, MN

Major: Creative Digital Media

Year: Freshman

There is no question that Winona State has some of the most stunning college brochures and social media accounts among top colleges and universities. It takes great skill to capture the candids of college life, organized sports tournaments, and campus events. Brooke Powell and Debra Medin have quickly become recognized photographers on this campus, and they are both only freshmen! To learn more about the ladies behind the lens, I took the time to ask about their passion and to capture the bigger picture about them.

Her Campus (HC): Okay girls, if you haven’t perfected your answer to this question by now, here’s your chance. What are your majors and what are you involved in on campus?

Brooke Powell (BP): I will be majoring in Mass Communications: Advertising. I am involved all around campus, including the Advertising Federation club (AdFed), an ambassador on the Love Your Melon WSU crew, hiking club, Chi Alpha, and the Chi Alpha Media Team. I work in the Communications office here at Winona State where I take photos of activities and events.

Debra Medin (DM): My major is Mass Communications: Creative Digital Media with a minor in Marketing, and I’m very involved in Chi Alpha.


HC: Everybody remembers the first time they discovered a hobby they’re truly passionate about. Tell us about how you first got into photography.

BP: I first got into photography during the summer in middle school because my mom wanted me to find a hobby, so I tried sewing. After many failed attempts, it was obvious sewing was not the hobby for me. My family had also recently purchased a Canon DSLR and I picked it up one day, which is where this journey all started. Then, my cousin asked me to take his senior pictures and I thought to myself, “Well, I don’t know how to do that.” I had never done a session before, but I decided to give it a shot. Soon after his session, I started a photography portfolio which was what sparked my interest in portrait photography.

DM: I started taking pictures for fun with my two older sisters, and people kept telling me that I was good at it and had a natural talent, so I decided to just keep going with it!


HC: Finding a passion is one task, but there’s so much that goes into constantly improving upon that. How long did it take you to get so good at photography? And in that same vein, are there any skills or techniques you still want to learn or are in the process of learning?

BP: It has taken me years to get to where I am today. YEARS. I am completely self-taught. Thank you, YouTube tutorials! A lot of the learning is trial and error and, of course, practice, practice, practice. A skill I am in the process of learning is videography. I’d love to broaden my palate so getting into video production is something I am interested in!

DM: I started doing it professionally when I was 14, and I don’t think there’s ever been a point where I’ve looked at my work and thought that it was good. There’s honestly so much out there to learn about photography, whether that be editing or posing people. That being said, there are always different techniques that I want to learn. I’m actually really interested in layering pictures right now!  

HC: Being a student at Winona State comes with coursework, obviously. Do you find it difficult to balance your photo sessions with schoolwork? Why or why not?

BP: I find it very easy to balance my photo sessions with schoolwork. The beauty of being a photographer is getting to plan sessions around your schedule. You are, essentially, your own boss. I am in control of when and for how long I work. However, it is challenging at times when all I want to do is edit a session because I’m so excited about the photos and I really should be studying for an exam instead.

DM: I didn’t have a problem with it in high school, but I’ve definitely been having a harder time scheduling photoshoots now that I’m at college. Sometimes I feel like school is holding me back from being able to give my all to photography, but it’s important to me that I get a Bachelor’s degree.  

HC: What is your favorite thing about photography?

BP: My favorite thing about photography is getting to meet so many amazing people who I get to call my clients. It’s so rewarding to capture a time in someone’s life and share that with them. My absolute favorite part about photography is showing my clients their beautiful gallery, seeing their smiles as they look through it, and watching them pick their favorites.

DM: My absolute favorite thing about photography is being able to capture candid moments for people. They always show so much emotion in them, and I just can’t put into words how much I adore them!  


HC: From what I’ve seen, all your pictures are gorgeous. But is there a certain event or photo that sticks out as your favorite? What was it and what makes it so special?  

BP: This is a hard one! My favorite event I’ve photographed at Winona State University would have to be Chi Alpha’s baptism night. It was very touching to hear students’ stories and photograph such an amazing moment in their life for them. I can’t narrow down my favorite photo to just one, so a few of my favorites are from a couple session I did over the summer. Jada and Noah (the couple photographed) are so sweet and were a pleasure to work with! Another favorite of mine was a family session I also did this past summer because they decided to bring their dog, and I LOVE dogs! This was a fun session with squeaking dog toys right above the camera. Ha! My final favorite has to be from one of the senior sessions I photographed. I was photographing a wrestler, and the timing was perfect: just as we were wrapping the session up, the sun shined right into the only, tiny window the room had. This image is pure luck and perfect timing. 

DM: That’s like asking someone what their favorite movie is! I don’t have necessarily one favorite photoshoot. One of my favorite pictures was from my older sister’s wedding. I ended up doubling as a bridesmaid and second photographer for the day. Just the sheer fact that I got to take pictures for my sister on her wedding day is what made me love that picture so much! Another favorite of mine was from a photoshoot I did for some friends in Canada after their wedding. The couple I photographed was young, fun, and felt like family so the whole shoot was a blast! Also, the scenery was gorgeous which made the shoot feel like a dream. The last one was a picture from a school trip to Chitwan, Nepal. At the time, I really wanted to work for National Geographic, so the fact that I was able to go to Nepal and work at an orphanage for eight days was crazy.

HC: Do you plan to pursue photography as part of a major/minor here at WSU?

BP: I would love to pursue Photography as a minor here at Winona State University, and I am currently taking a few classes to get me there.

DM: Yes! My major, Mass Communication Creative Digital Media, is the photography major here at WSU!  

HC: After people read this article, I’m sure there will be a tremendous influx in requests for personal sessions. How could someone schedule a photo session with you? Also, where can they view these picturesque portfolios of yours?

BP: You can check out more of my work at brookepowellphotography.com, follow me on Instagram at brookepowellphotography or email me at Brooke@brookepowellphotography.com to schedule a session or ask questions!

DM: The best way to schedule a photo session with me is through my photography Facebook page Debra Medin Photography, my instagram Debra.Medin or my email debmedin@gmail.com.


After hearing what these girls have to say about their penchant for photography, there’s a clear snapshot of the beautiful photo sessions and frame-worthy successes in both of their futures!


Keep an eye out for their photos around campus, including Brooke’s first place finish in the Winona State University header photo on Facebook!


Photo 3 & 6- Brian Waldbillig Photography

Photos 1 & 4- Brooke Powell Photography

Photos 2 & 5- Debra Medin Photography

My name is Hannah Hippensteel, and I like to say I'm a Chicago city-slicker, but I'm actually from the 'burbs. I'm currently a senior at Winona State with a major in mass communication-journalism and a minor in sociology. Catch me enjoying all Winona has to offer: the bluffs, the incomparable Bloedow's Bakery, and not to mention, Minnesota boys. With a goal of working at Teen Vogue, Seventeen or Glamour magazine, I'm soaking up every opportunity to keep my finger on the pulse and share my personal voice!