With the support of the fellowship, Charette honed her photography skills for two weeks this summer at The New York Film Academy-Los Angeles. Studying under professionals working in the field, Charette grew as an artist capturing naturalistic images of her peers.
Charette has always had an interest in art and, it was her older cousin who sparked her fascination with photography.
Charette started photography classes in her sophomore year at KO and instantly fell in love with the craft. She readily embraces the challenge of the work. What might appear simple, she says, is actually a complex process.
“You can look at a photograph and think, ‘Oh it’s so easy,’” she said. “But, as you work, you realize what goes into accomplishing a piece. You might have a picture in your head of exactly what it’s going to look like, and it doesn’t come out. You get frustrated because you didn’t have enough light or you needed a different lens. But, that’s also the beauty of it. You might get something that you didn’t expect.”
Charette says she gravitates toward portrait photography because there’s a story behind each image. While at the summer workshop, she used her fellow students as subjects for her work, photographing them in the backlot of Universal Studios. Initially, Charette said, some of the students were shy about being photographed. But, by spending time interacting with them, she said she was able to portray each subject’s personality through a photo.
Most of Charette’s work features young adults. “I love this age,” she said. “It’s cool to take the kids’ photos. They are trying to learn who they are and trying to understand themselves. They’re much more expressive than someone who has it all figured out.”
After developing the photos and sharing them with her models, Charette said her subjects were genuinely pleased with the finished products and loved how they were portrayed in the photos.
Charette admires the photography of Brandon Woelfel, and his influence on her work is obvious, especially in her images employing a bokeh effect, which is the creative use of out-of-focus points of light to enhance a photographic image. While claiming she does not have a definitive style, Charette said she prefers to use natural light and environments to achieve an immediacy. “I don’t edit that much, and artificial flash is never a good idea,” she said. “I take it the way it is. It’s real.”
From one girl’s soulful stare to the self-assured pose of a young boy, Charette’s photographs reflect, in an unaffected manner, the identities of young people who are coming of age. Since its inception in 2008, the Rosoff fellowship has funded 11 students. In choosing recipients, creative arts teacher Scott McDonald and photography teacher Greg Scranton consider both the work of students as well as their commitment to their art. “Eliza is one of those students who really makes sure that everything is in order,” Scranton said. “And you know she’s doing her best work.” He said part of the challenge for all artists is to allow themselves to make mistakes and accept the fact that their work may not be perfect. “Since Eliza came back from her trip to Los Angeles,” he said, “she’s striving to make each image better through the editing process.”
Charette says that she is realistic about her future and understands the difficulty in making a career from her art, but vows never to surrender her craft. “I love art photos,” she said. “I would never stop taking them. There’s an incredible payoff.”