Sitting in the quad, a young lady looked through the content on her camera, observed her surroundings and stumbled upon a very unique shot that caught the attention of many students around campus. Students wondered with curiosity about her approach and interest with her camera. Emerson Lee Eoff, a 20 year old photographer from Bakersfield, has come to Pasadena City College (PCC) to pursue her passion in becoming a celebrity portrait photographer.

“I started off with an interest in becoming a journalist. I was going to take a journalist class, but my Mom saw me taking photographs of random things in my backyard from cats or basketballs, and she decided that I would be better suited for photography and didn’t tell me,” said Eoff.

Many students who first begin attending community college struggle with finding out what he or she might want to pursue. Thanks to Emerson’s mother, and her family’s help with a focused and passionate observation, she focused on photography and began taking more classes.

“I immediately fell in love with it, and it was the only thing that I got to do without anyone even telling me what to do,” said Emerson, “I moved on from basketball and cats, to race car drivers and prom photos. Soon I had this notion in my head that I wanted to be a celebrity portrait photographer and knew I had to move to Los Angeles for that. Now I knew that I needed a mentor and I didn’t know where to find one.”

Moving to Los Angeles, or any big city of that matter is not an easy task and it’s very ambitious to jump into. Finding the right people, with the right connections is extremely critical for an artist’s passion. One of the most important aspects to the business of the arts is finding a great mentor, agent, or manager that can help the artist book gigs and events. Luckily, this opportunity was right on its way for Eoff.

“I was asked to do a newborn shoot, which I really didn’t want to do, but when I finished, the mother who had given me the opportunity to photo shoot her newborn said she knows a photographer from LA but I laughed it off and didn’t think about it too much, though, I took his information anyway,” said Eoff. “Come to find out, he was quite influential, so I sent him some of my work and asked if we can meetup in Los Angeles.”

As many business and marketing individuals have said, including Eoff’s mentor and photographer,  Adam Hendershot, expressed that “the concept of reaching out to others is very important when it comes to getting yourself out there, connecting with other influencers who work in a similar field.” Persistency, focus, and a strong will to drive is necessary for any progress of growth and success.

“So I headed down to L.A with my portfolio and met him at a coffee shop. He ended up enjoying my work and hired me on as an assistant to begin working in the entertainment field for music videos, tv show sets, and pilot series. From there I found Pasadena city college and decided to take photography courses, which then gave me a background in film and well as digital photography,” said Eoff.

Emerson’s experience at Pasadena City College has both encouraged her and shaped who she has become. With the helpful support of faculty and staff, Emerson has networked with not only PCC but the Los Angeles community to broaden her horizon into exponential opportunity.

“One of the most important skills that came out of attending PCC as a photographer was the large format class where I can only take one 4 by 4 image at a time. Which meant that I couldn’t hold down my shutter button down so instead I had to be more methodical about what moments I capture. This means that when I was on set, I had better timing. So now I work with this photographer full time and through the connections I’ve made, found a love for unit still photography,” said Eoff.

There are many different forms of photography and one of the biggest and most competitive ones is a unit stills photographer. Unit still photographers work on film sets whose job it is to provide behind the scenes photos as well as promotional images for the film. Getting into any art form careers as a profession is not an easy one especially if you are dealing with the entertainment world. Though, with a strong drive and passion, it can be done as Emerson has done just that.

“So now that 15 year old girl who photographed cats, has worked on music videos, web series, and pilot episodes for Hollywood,” said Emerson.

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