Aileen Luib’s self portrait “13 Rounds” captures the essence of the busy life of a college student
Aileen Luib has an eye for capturing the heart and soul of the subjects she photographs – even if it is a self portrait. Her affinity led to being the Grand Prize winner of this year’s College Seen photography competition for California community college students.
The Mt. San Jacinto College student was one of the first place finishers in eight categories, taking the top spot in the Portrait and Personality category. In 2010-11, an MSJC student won the top spot in the Career Preparation and Work Experience category. Luib’s prize package included photo software and a $500 cash award, which she has already earmarked for a new camera lens. More than 320 entrants participated in this year’s contest.
“Out of all my portraits, I felt his one had a more solid story behind it,” said Luib, 18. “It’s about self awareness and identity.”
Luib’s photo of herself with boxing gloves on and a defiant look in her eyes was titled “13 Rounds” by the Moreno Valley resident.
“I’m a big boxing fan and this (title) refers to endurance because you usually never get to a 13th round,” she said. “I’m pretty busy on a daily basis with two jobs and school. Life gets tiring. The whole purpose of the image is to show that I can endure a lot – I’m a fighter.”
Luib is a recreational boxer who uses the sport as exercise and a healthy way to let out any aggression.
Keith Hanz, MSJC’s photography instructor since 1998 and full-time department chair since 2006, is Luib’s instructor for advanced classes she has taken since last fall. She has been involved with the MSJC photography program through all its levels.
“Aileen has a great dedication to creativity – producing as much outside the classroom as inside. She is at home in the studio just as much as she is on location,” he said. “She experiments with great energy and has a lot of creative prowess. She also has a great attitude toward receiving input and works wonderfully with her peers.”
Luib started photography as a hobby about three years ago but began taking her work more seriously after she graduated from high school. Most of what she knows comes from self study.
“I do self portraits every month or so as a teaching tool,” she said. “It also teaches me some humility and puts me in the model’s place so I can relate.”
Hanz said Luib has gone through an interesting learning curve at the college because she came to the program with many skill sets.
“The more she learned to trust me and the program, the more she blossomed in using the great facility and program MSJC has provided,” he said. “What’s very important is that we have real world hands-on tools for our students. Having the current digital paradigm instruments and workflow is the hallmark of the MSJC photography department.”
Hanz invites all his intermediate and advanced students to enter competitions. He also has them partake in a peer competition – The Pixel River Project – that gives them competitive and celebratory feedback from classmates on a regular basis.
“They learn how to deconstruct an image and speak with peers about improvement,” said Hanz. “These classes are about preparing students for the present and future and teaching them relevant processes.”
College Seen™ Photo Contest is an annual photo competition that tells the story of the California Community Colleges from a student perspective. The contest is sponsored by the Foundation for California Community Colleges and the CollegeBuys purchasing program, with software prizes courtesy of Adobe®, according to the College Seen web site.
Launched in 2007, College Seen recognizes exceptional photos and showcases outstanding community college student work.
“The Foundation is proud to sponsor a competition that allows community college students to creatively portray their experiences on campus while honing their craft,” said Keetha Mills, Interim President and CEO of the Foundation for California Community Colleges. “The photos captured by this year’s College Seen winners help tell a story of both the personal experiences of the students, and life at California’s 112 community colleges. It is exciting and refreshing to see the talent portrayed by so many of our students.”
Last year, MSJC student Tammy Baker’s photo of fire fighters in training took first place in the College Seen contest. The award came under the category of career preparation and work experience for “Hot Career Choice.”