Archive for Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Digital age: January ArtStar combines love of photography with modern, entrepreneurial spirit

Sarah Stern works to take some photographs of her horse Amanda.

Sarah Stern works to take some photographs of her horse Amanda.

January 27, 2009


January ArtStar winner concentrates on photography

Free State senior Sarah Stern has parlayed her love of photography into a business and continues studying her art. Enlarge video

Maybe it’s good that Sarah Stern now takes photos with a digital camera. It’s cheaper this way.

“When I was really little, I used to go through film like crazy,” Stern says. “I would get a roll of film, and I would take all 24 exposures immediately. Everyone at Dillons at the one-hour place knew me by name.”

These days, photography helps Stern earn some extra cash. For three years, she’s operated Sarah Stern Photography, taking senior photos and photos of weddings, children and families.

Her ability to balance art photography and commercial photography helped the Free State High School senior win the ArtStar award for January. The award is sponsored by The World Company and Jayhawk Dental.

Stern says she had an entrepreneurial streak starting at a young age.

“I would sell anything,” she recalls. “I had lemonade stands. I had corn stands from my grandpa’s farm — I’d go pick the corn and bring it back. I sold love potion to my neighborhood crew. So business was in my blood early on.”

She says she started thinking seriously about photography in junior high when she took a series of photos of horses. When Don Stevanov, her photography teacher at Southwest Junior High School, needed an assistant to help with wedding photography, she agreed. She enjoyed the experience enough to start her own business.

“Though word of mouth, it really spread into an awesome thing,” she says.


Throughout high school, she’s also studied photography with Gary Smith, a Lawrence-based freelance photographer. The two initially connected through a community mentor program through Lawrence Public Schools.

Stern is trying to find a balance between developing her artistic side and making money with her talents.

“That’s the whole intent we’ve always taken with it,” Smith says, “to get that creative side of hers and to mine it.”

He adds: “I’ve never had a student this interested in what I have to tell her, and make this much time for what I have to tell her. Life — it doesn’t seem like you have a minute extra — and she was over here all the time, sometimes twice a week, sucking in the information I had to give her, just absorbing it like a sponge.”

Stern’s photos have been accepted in the statewide Merriam Art Exhibit, the Kansas Native Sons and Daughters Art Competition and Exhibition and the five-state Hays Photography Competition and Exhibition. She also has a one-person show on display through February at the Unity Church of Lawrence Gallery, 900 Madeline Lane.

Though she’s best known for her photography, Stern has plenty of other artistic talents. She takes piano and guitar lessons, has taken drawing classes and currently is taking a digital media lab course at FSHS.

And when she’s not doing art-related activities, she gives back to the community, tutoring at the Centro Hispano and organizing volunteer opportunities for the FSHS Key Club.

‘Slash photographer’

Stern is considering several colleges for the fall, including Washington University, Tufts University and Kansas University. She wants to double-major, possibly in photography and business.

“For the rest of my life, I’ll always be a ‘slash photographer,’” she says. “So whatever I’m doing, when I’m traveling and when I’m out, being a photographer doesn’t really go away. It’s something that sticks with you your entire life.”

Smith says he has no doubt Stern will be successful no matter what she chooses for a career.

“I’ve never seen somebody sent out into college more ready than Sarah Stern is, by a third,” Smith says. “She has so many talents and so many talents that she does consistently and constantly and well, and rises to the top of these talents.”


David Lignell 9 years ago

Congratulations, Sarah, on both the wonderful exhibit and for being selected as the ArtStar for January. Both honors are well deserved. Keep snapping those digitals; your career is well under way!

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years ago

Another photo of someone on the railroad tracks. This behavior is both dangerous and illegal. This newspaper has published photos before of people on railroad tracks. Today's fast moving trains can be upon you before you know it. And tresspassing on railroad property is illegal. Furthermore, these tracks are dirty and greasy. When is the management of this newspaper going to learn about the safety issues around railroad tracks. Many people are killed and maimed nearly every day and childern can be influanced to mimic this behavior. What is it going to take to make you aware of the dangers of this behavior?

George_Braziller 9 years ago

Lighten up already. You don't have any idea where those tracks might be. There's a spur crossing 6th Street that only has a rail car on it when it's delivering paper to the Journal World in the middle of the night. The tracks near my hometown had a slow moving train on it about once a month. I used to walk those tracks all the time (with my camera.)

Hilary Morton 9 years ago

Congrats to Sarah. That's what this article celebrates. Let's stick with her successes and drive.

KansasVoter 9 years ago

frwent (Anonymous) says…"Another photo of someone on the railroad tracks. This behavior is both dangerous and illegal."Since the complaining has already begun, the shoes are ugly and the woman's legs are very unattractive.

Alia Ahmed 9 years ago

Sarah, great photos, I loved the ones of my friend, Mariya, in them but they are all terrific.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years ago

To George Braziller and others. I WILL NOT lighten up on this topic. I belong to an organization that supports and promotes Operation Lifesaver, a national organization sponsored by all major railroads to educate the public about all the dangers around railroad tracks. Everything I said is true. It is illegal, no matter where the tracks are located. It is dangerous at all times. Why? Some folks will see this and think "Gee, this is cool, lets go play on the tracks. Some folks 6 or 7 years old. And they are too young to know better. And with the increased awareness in physical security today, you could very likely be arrested and charged with criminal tresspass. George, it is not a trivial matter. If you think so, go to an Operation Lifesaver event and get the straight talk from the representatives of the railroads that sponsor and host this organization. See the absolutely stupid and dumb things that seemingly intelligent and sane people do around railroad tracks. Yes, you can even be injured around deserted sidings and apparently little-used lines. Bottom line, it is better to be safe and alive than find yourself with your foot caught under a rail and tie with a 200 ton train hurtling at you. As I sit and write this I am looking at a calender I get every year and the logo states "PLEASE!! Observe railroad and tresspass laws" "Remember, any time is train time" You who ignore this or think I am full of bull, do so at your own risk.

George_Braziller 9 years ago

Uhhh, OK. But the article was about a really talented photographer and her photographs not railroad tracks.And now returning to the regularly scheduled programming -- I loved the photograph of Rose. She was always a cherubic child but has become a really stunningly beautiful young woman.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years ago

I am not disputing the talent and spirit of the photographer, most of her photos are stunning and well-done. I am also a life long photographer, both film and digital, and as you might guess, do most of it of my hobby, railfanning and photos for use in my model railroad hobby. This is the source of my concern, that people who are interested in railroads as a hobby be safe, and others who are unaware of the danger, also be safe. It tears my heart out everytime I see a news article about someone who is dead trying to beat a train at the crossing. Or worse, what happened here in Lawrence some years back. A kid was playing on a trestle in North Lawrence, a very busy line on the Union Pacific. A train appeared, and rather than leaving the trestle from the way he came (the short route), he took off running across the long bridge and was run down by the fast moving train. This is my nightmare and where I am coming from.

oohmgrover 9 years ago

Congratulations Sarah! You are a very bright young woman and you will go far in life with a talent like yours!

Kristen Murphy 9 years ago

Great pictures! Um I took my cousin's senior pictures on RR tracks. They were not in use (by the train depot). Relax.

beatrice 9 years ago

Looking at the headline, I thought the photographer's name was "January ArtStar" -- a pretty cool name for an artist! I guess Sarah is a nice name for an artist as well. Keep up the good work.I particularly like the one of the red boots, which I assume was photoshopped since we all know that rational people don't walk along traintracks -- too dangerous! That would be like taking a photo of someone on a bicycle without a helmet!!! Oh the horror!!!And remember, look both ways when crossing the street and always eat your vegetables!

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