Over the last couple months, we've been in search of a winner for our inaugural First Shot Photo Contest in memory of late Weekling photographer Andrew Youssef. Back in December, we put a call out to all aspiring local photographers to see who had the skills and the ambition to represent Youssef's attitude and work ethic (not an easy task for any photog, let alone a beginner).
Today we congratulate winner Heather Feibleman, a senior at Corona Del Mar High School. We gladly interrupted her study time during finals week to deliver the news. Not only can she tell a pretty good story from behind the lens, she also has an interesting one of her own.
Since picking up photography as a hobby freshman year, Feibleman says she's been hooked on shooting concerts and local gatherings in and around Corona Del Mar. Coming from a musical family (including a guitar-playing father) and going to concerts frequently at a young age gave her an early desire to shoot concert photography.
"I like getting lost in it," Feibleman says. "It's an outlet for me on any given day I'll go out and shoot and it's a release for whatever emotions I'm feeling at the time."
And though she's usually not allowed to shoot a concert from the photo bit, it's a lot easier to get snaps from the stage when she organizes her own shows. Last year, she and a group of school friends decided to start an event called WELL Fest–a local music festival that brought together young bands and musicians from all over Orange County to benefit the Child Abuse Prevention Center.
"We basically wanted to throw an event like Coachella for people in the community," she says. "The first year we drew about 400 people and raised a good amount of money for charity." It was such a success that, after final exams finish up, she looks forward to another WELL Fest in the near future.
Aside from making us all look like slackers with her work ethic (something Youssef always did well), Feibleman's love of photography is apparent both in her growing body of work and her outlook on the art form.
"I loved having the access to capture the audible passion put forth by these young musicians," she says in the essay she wrote for the contest. "Converting their passion for music into a single photograph exists as one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."
After reading Youssef story and studying his award-winning Last Shot column, winning the contest in memory of him is a true honor.
"He kept doing what he loved even when he probably shouldn't have been doing it," Feibleman says. "Hopefully I'll never be in the same situation but even when I'm like 90 years old, I still want to be that grandma out there taking photos.That would be pretty awesome, actually."
Look out for a Locals Only article on Feibleman in the next dead tree issue of the Weekly
Check out some of Heather's photos below: