By Kincaid Schmidt
Andrea Huls is an expert at stopping time.
She is not, however, a scientist. Nor is she a quantum physicist or a magician. But as a photographer, the native of Bolivia has the ability to capture a moment in time perfectly, and that expertise is now being recognized in a big way.
Huls, a photo editor for The Gargoyle, received a letter last month from Photographer’s Forum Magazine distinguishing her as a finalist in their 27th annual collegiate photography contest. This honor grants her publication in the Best of College Photography Annual 2007, as well as the chance to win $1,000 and a brand new digital camera.
“When I got the letter I wanted to jump around,” Huls said of the announcement.
Winning the award from Photographer’s Forum and being published at such a young age would provide Huls with the equipment, monetary means and exposure to begin fulfilling her dream of becoming a photojournalist.
“I want to find a job that will allow me to travel and meet different cultures,” Huls said. “I think that combining both words and images is a great tool to get to thousands of people and hopefully make a difference.”
This prestigious recognition is long overdue for Huls, who says she has always taken pictures. As a little girl, she would borrow cameras from her mother and aunt. Her aunt, also a photographer, gave Huls her first camera, a simple point-and-shoot device. “Nothing fancy,” Huls said. “But it was a big deal for me.”
What started out as a childhood hobby evolved into a more serious venture when Huls received a professional camera as a high school graduation gift. She was not able to start taking classes until the following spring semester, so Huls spent the summer and fall learning more about her craft.
She enlisted the help of her high school photography teacher, who was also the photo editor for a national periodical in Nicaragua called La Prensa. The editor gave her an internship at the newspaper. There she learned about the technical aspects of photography and, for the first time, worked with digital rather than film cameras.
Huls arrived at Flagler in 2004 and enrolled in the school’s photojournalism class two years later. She credits instructor Ken Barrett for helping introduce her to the school’s darkroom, as well as for suggesting that Huls enter the Photographer’s Forum competition.
With his support, Huls submitted seven black-and-white photographs that she took while visiting family in Holland and Bolivia. Her goal was not to win money or fame, but to simply share a part of her own culture and heritage.
Though Huls accepts the growing use of digital cameras over film, she still prefers the darkroom to the computer.
“Everything is digital now,” she said. “This makes me love and value film even more. No experience can be compared to what I do in the darkroom.”
The most meaningful part of her artwork, Huls said, is being able to capture the essence of a fleeting moment.