Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of making the phone call to the grand prize winner of our 2016 High School Photo Contest, Jeffery Huang of San Diego, CA. After months of viewing and downloading thousands of images from high school-aged students from ALL around the world, I was pretty stoked to finally be making the call to the photographer whose image rose to the top. By the time I called Jeffrey, I had already called all the third, second and first place winners. Sometimes I got their voicemail. Sometimes I had to leave a message with a parent. Sometimes I got the winners on the first try. Reactions were all across the board, from surprisingly subdued acknowledgement to excited words like, "What?! Get out! No way!!" Having won first place in the nature category AND the grand prize, Jeffrey's reaction was somewhere in the middle. I guess I'd describe it as the kind of surprisingly calm acceptance that one has shortly before the gravity of the situation – and resulting scream-out-loud-in-your-car-repeatedly-hit-your-steering-wheel-freaking-out – sets in. I think his words were something like, "Uhhh ... (long pause) ... No way. (slow build) Oh my god. Uh, you've got to be kidding me. (excitement builds) No way! That is awesome! (pure happiness takes over).As we approach the beginning of our third annual High School Photo Contest, I got curious about what Jeffery has been doing with his new title of "Grand Prize Winner," and the boatload of new gear he won. To satisfy my curiosity, and hopefully inspire students from around the world, he was gracious enough to answer a few questions from me. Here they are, along with some examples of his work. Needless to say, this dude has some skills!

Tell our readers a bit about yourself. Who are you, where do you go to school, what kind of photography do you like?

My name is Jeffrey Huang and I’m currently a senior at Westview High School in San Diego, California. I like all types of photography, but I mainly take photographs of nature and landscapes.

How long have you been into photography? What got you into it?

I’ve been into photography for 4 years now. I informally started photography by taking pictures with my parents’ old point-and-shoot camera when we would go on hikes or family vacations. After my parents saw how interested I was, they bought me a proper entry level DSLR and I then started taking photography seriously.

Do you take photo classes in High School? If so how have they helped you develop?

I took one photo class at my high school last year. Before taking the class, I had already taught myself many of the technical aspects of photography like how to use the trinity of shutter speed, ISO, and aperture correctly, how to better compose a photo, and how to use post-processing software like Lightroom and Photshop. But while taking the class, I was able to collaborate with other peers and learn from them as well. The collaborative aspect really allowed me to gain a greater perspective on who I was as a photographer. I first entered in the contest thinking that I may as well give it a shot but never expected to win anything. So when I first heard the news over the phone, I was speechless. I was so glad that all of the effort that I put into photography — the hours spent watching YouTube videos, the hours spent looking at the work of photographers like Ansel Adams and Joel Meyerowitz, the hours spent surveying beaches at night and hiking up mountain trails in the morning—finally paid off.

Can you tell our readers what prizes you won? How have you been using each?

I won a Canon 70D camera with lens, carbon fiber Oben tripod, Manfrotto camera backpack, Ruggard camera bag, $250 gift card to B&H photo, Lensbaby mobile lens kit, and a quality print of my winning photo. I use the Canon 70D to take a lot of my photos and I absolutely love it. I also use the Oben tripod to take seascapes because other tripods would wear down from the sand and saltwater. I use the Manfrotto bag when I’m hiking and the Ruggard bag for everything else because it’s smaller. I’m also planning on using the gift card to B&H to buy a new wide angle lens. While having all of these items is great, the opportunity to participate in such a contest has definitely been the most rewarding thing.

Since you won the grand prize, how has your photography changed? Have you been more inspired to shoot?

After winning the grand prize, I have developed a greater passion for photography. I’m no longer hesitant about having to wake up early in the morning to get that perfect sunrise shot or having to stand in cold water for an hour to get the perfect long exposure. I’m more dedicated to the art and have found it to be a great form of self-expression as well.

What are your plans after high school?

My plans after high school are to go to a four year university where I will major in bioengineering and hopefully pursue photography as a minor.

Where do you see yourself and your photography aspirations in the next 1 or 5 years?

I still see myself pursuing photography as a passion in the future. I will try to take as many pictures as I can even if I’m busy with college. Photography has always been an outlet for me to show my creative side, and I don’t want to lose that.

To see more of Jeffrey's photography, check him out online here:

On Facebook

On Instagram

On 500px

Are you interested in winning a boatload of photo gear from our Educational Partners? Enter our 2018 High School School Photo Contest.

Good Luck!


Andy Kemmis

Andy Kemmis is the Publications and Correspondence Specialist for RMSP. Decoded, this means that Andy is the guy who handles the school's graphic design needs, manages our ever-growing image library and is responsible for the wickedly clever words that fill our annual course catalog. He landed this job by touting his 3rd place finish in the Lewis and Clark Elementary Spelling Bee as a third grader. A great day for Andy consists of drinking coffee in the morning while listening to The Clash, going skateboarding or snowboarding and shooting photos of either, eating a turkey sandwich with avocado on it, and finding newer, more creative ways to not act his age...which aint what it used to be.