“That’s the weird thing about photography. You have so many pictures of other people on your walls.”
Iszy Szemcsak is often seen with a camera in her hand. The New Paltz High School senior has been snapping photos since she was ten years old, and she has never lost her passion for it.
“I put all my time and energy into my photography,” she says. Szemcsak got her first job at 13 years old taking pictures of a bar mitzvah. Since then, she has photographed a variety of events, including weddings and senior portraits (for which she is available this year). Her Instagram handle is @isabelleszemcsak.
Although her photography career has blossomed, Szemcsak is frustrated by the difficulty of getting photography jobs as a high-school student. “I want to take it to the next level,” she says. She’d like her photos, particularly the variety of art pieces she’s done, published.
Szemcsak’s work in AP Studio Art this year has been a welcome challenge for her on that front. She plans to pursue photography in college.
It isn’t her only interest. “I don’t want to be one of those people who’s like, Art is my life,“ she says. Szemcsak plans a five-year double-major program in the city, potentially studying world history or business in addition to her creative pursuits.
“That’s the wise thing to do,” she explains. She’s not optimistic about the job market the class of 2017 faces.
“I haven’t really had that great of a high-school experience,” she admits. “I feel like when you’re a freshman, you walk in and there’s so much self-pressure to be cool. I hate seniors because they say stuff like this, but now I’m like, Yeah, I was dumb.”
Szemcsak came to the district in the sixth grade from Red Hook, and before that Canajoharie, which she jokes was “an Amish community.” She is often amused by people who call New Paltz “upstate.” No one here has seen the real upstate New York, where she lived, she contends. There, Szemcsak enjoyed horseback riding. “I wanted to be an equine veterinarian, or just a plain old equestrian,” she smiles, waving her hand.
Since coming to New Paltz, her horseback-riding dreams have been put on the back burner. New Paltz is her favorite home thus far, but she is excited to see more of the world. She hopes to take a trip to northern India with her boyfriend this summer. “I’ll be sitting at home in America watching Anthony Bourdain and I’m like, This is so much cooler than everything I see every day,” she says, laughing.
Szemcsak is also an avid viewer of The Office. “It’s had an impact on my life and made me a better being,” she quips. She plans to use a Michael Scott quote in the yearbook.
While thrilled to be doing her own thing out of high school, Szemcsak feels the occasional pangs for childhood that catch some seniors by surprise. “I really miss being a little kid,” she admits. “I would have enjoyed it so much more as me now. I’m laughing, but I’m laughing through the pain.”
With experiences under her belt and the exciting opportunities ahead, Szemcsak should be facing a serene if not completely carefree year to come.