The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Blaine County Beacon - The Business of Making People Feel Beautiful


May 27, 2020

Ambitious, energetic, and creative are three words that aptly capture the character of Adrianna Standiford. A 2015 graduate of Chinook High School, Standiford recently graduated from the University of Montana Western (UMW) on May 9, 2020, with two bachelor's degrees. Her first is a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education; the second is a Bachelor of Arts with a Visual Arts option and a Drama Related Area as a minor. Because of COVID-19 risks, UMW's 123rd Commencement Ceremony was held virtually, but that didn't minimize the specialness of this milestone for Standiford.

She talked easily about her time working at Target Range Elementary School and Willard Alternative High School in Missoula during her spring semester student teaching experience.

"The most successful lesson I've delivered so far was probably within the Introduction to Ceramics unit I conducted with my high school students. Clay is a very unique medium, and not many students have access to it outside of the classroom. This makes the experience exciting. Working with students and helping them transition from two dimensional art to 3D is not only an interesting process but a valuable learning experience. It's also very intimidating for students with less experience. Being able to mediate a creative space, help them articulate their thoughts, and find success with material they've never used is just so rewarding," Standiford said.

Since we were in the midst of a distance learning/digital learning model during this interview, Standiford was asked to relate the most challenging aspect of completing her student teaching experience in these circumstances. "I am finishing the semester at an elementary school. Developing a curriculum with my mentor teacher has been very challenging because students may or may not have specific materials. We try to focus on the fundamentals of art while keeping the assignments fairly open ended so students may complete them with a variety of materials. Many students enjoy art, as it can be a positive outlet for them, but not being in the classroom makes it difficult for them to be motivated. I would say trying to motivate students and give them material that is relevant and meaningful, while not adding extra stress, has definitely been the most challenging."

While juggling her studies and performing as a student teacher, Standiford still found time to start a new business: imagesbyadrianna. Calling herself a proud collector of memories and happy moments, Standiford is both an artist and a photographer. "It is my sincere promise to provide my clients with the best quality photos and an even better quality experience," she said.

Although Standiford enjoys artistic photography-photography that enables her to be spontaneous and use her artist's eye, she also enjoys doing family and senior portrait sessions.

"In taking pictures, I had to decide whether I was making art for myself or for others. While there is something beautiful about street photography, whenever a person enters the scene, the picture has a different narrative," Standiford explained.

Street photography is photography that is conducted for art. It does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. Instead, it features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places. Though people may be featured, street photography might be absent of people and may expose an object or environment where the image projects a distinctly human character in facsimile or aesthetic.

"Whenever I am taking photos for a commission, I make an effort to build a relationship with the person who commissioned my work. Once I get a glimpse into who this person is, I feel like I have made a connection. That is the background experience that I bring to my business. People accuse me of bouncing about, but it's the energy and enthusiasm that helps me to make a connection," Standiford explained.

Standiford's experience with photography began with her family and friends. Having taken pictures that were appreciated and capable of telling a story, she was encouraged to turn her hobby into a business. The thing that most surprises her about owning her own business is the sense of community among artists and the network that she has been able to tap for advice. "My business is still underdeveloped, so I don't consider myself a professional yet, but I don't have far to look to find someone willing to share their experiences so that I can learn. I don't necessarily have to make my own mistakes!"

Her greatest challenge in the business so far has been balancing her time. "Since I started my business while I was still in school, I had to focus on my studies while still trying to take advantage of the opportunities available to me for making money."

Those challenges have been balanced by the rewards. "When I'm conducting a photo shoot, whether for senior or family portraits, I work to break down any walls or barriers. I want to make people feel comfortable and beautiful, and if I'm the craziest person there, they have nothing to worry about," Standiford declared.

With imagesbyadrianna, Standiford will free-lance for a while, but she has contemplated furthering her education in the area of photography. Depending on where she obtains a teaching job, she may enroll at Rocky Mountain School of Photography (RMSP) in Missoula. RMSP offers Professional Intensive, Summer Intensive, Short Courses, and Evening Courses. Such programs highlight classes specially designed to develop the skills required of hobbyists, accomplished photographers, and professionals.

For nearly thirty years, RMSP has offered photography education to enthusiasts and aspiring professionals. "We are a supportive community that encourages a person to take risks and try something new. We're not about competition here. We're about pushing one another to grow, collaborate, and succeed. Our mission is to offer the best photography education in the industry. Together, we help students pursue their dreams and fall in love with light," an RMSP spokesperson stated.

In thinking about the advice she might offer to others exploring entrepreneurship, Standiford said, "The most important thing is to not compare your work to that done by other people. There are images everywhere, so it is easy to undermine yourself and measure what you do against what someone else is doing. Instead of being envious, celebrate what you do well and keep seeking to improve."

She also encourages the notion of making connections and of being present and conscious about artistic motives and objectives. "Those elements fuel me and help remind me why I'm there. I hold a dialogue with myself when I shoot pictures so that I can develop an artistic background or improve the composition of a shot."


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