Helena Koczur stands by her display window full of her most valued pieces from past photoshoots.

Gracie Weinstein

Under the Monocle: Through Helen’s lens

November 6, 2018

Helena Koczur
Senior Jacki Riek dances in front of the lens for one of Helena's photoshoots.

Among all of York’s outstanding programs, the art department has always been a place for students to be creative and show off their talents. Dozens of Dukes are enrolled in art classes here at York, from entry-level classes, such as Photo 1, to AP Art, sharing their passion for art with the rest of the school. Among these talented set of students, senior Helena Koczur is shocking the school with her deeply rooted photography skills through the AP Art program.

“Ever since I was a kid I had a little tiny digital camera that I would carry around everywhere with me and I would just take photos of everything… it was just something I thought was really fun,” Koczur said. “Then when I was in 8th grade for Christmas my dad got me a Nikon camera, and I was super excited and I just started playing around with it.”

After building a background of photography throughout her childhood, Helena took Photo 1 and 2 her freshman and sophomore year to further her skills and strengths. Although she didn’t have room in her schedule for AP Art junior year, she was encouraged by her teacher, Mr. Edgley, to apply her senior year. While most think it is completely worth it, the application process is difficult; however, this seems to reveal the impressive skills AP Art students have.

“I had to choose 12 of my best photos that I’ve taken in the past 6 months to a year, so fairly new. You edit those and then you just digitally submit it to one of the art teachers and then they will look it over,” Koczur said. “There’s also a written portion where you have to answer some questions about your experience and what classes you’ve taken, because you have to take 2 art classes in order to apply for AP art.”

Helena is constantly working on projects throughout the year, some of which can be seen in the display windows near the senior courtyards, featuring many of York’s own dukes. While many Dukes pass by with amazement, they don’t necessarily see the months of hard work and thought that go into each display.

“All of those displays are all the AP art students summer projects. We all had breadths to do, which is basically experimenting with different medias and ideas and you’re given a prompt, and with that prompt, you do whatever you think fits it,” Koczur said. “We had to do that all over the summer; I think, for photo students, we had six pieces.”

Other than what is displayed in Helena’s window, Koczur has shown to have certain preferences for the subject of her photos. While ranging in subject focus, Koczur expresses her favorite being people, photographing a range of models, including her friends.

“Obviously just landscape and nature shots have a special place in my heart, but nothing will ever beat the beauty of humans,” Koczur said. “I think at the moment my favorite photo I’ve taken was during my art history shoot, actually Sienna Olson is modeling in it.”

Now, Helena is working on a project called a concentration, something all AP Art students must partake in. A concentration is a portfolio for the college board of 12 pieces that fall under a certain theme, Helena’s being ‘stars’.

“My concentration is in the works right now, I’m just in the sketching process. The theme is stars and I’m taking that word and putting multiple meanings to it,” Koczur said. “It’s really tricky and I’m trying to figure everything out and piece it all together; hopefully it will turn out alright.”

By working on projects like these, Helena and all other art students are able to transform their work into meaningful pieces to share with both their fellow dukes and possible future employers.

“I’m not going into [photography] as far as schooling and college but I definitely want to keep it in my life whether it’s just doing it on the side, like during the summer getting [sic] shoots of families for family portraits or whatever,” Koczur said.

While keeping up with York’s other programs, such as the drama program, Koczur expresses how photography has always been different for her than any other extracurricular activity that she’s done.

“Photography is something I never get sick of. Obviously, if you know me I’m very involved in music and I do the theater program here, but something about photography makes it my own,” Koczur said. “It’s just me, the lens, and the button that takes the shot. Something about me being in complete control is just really special to me.”

With brilliant pieces in her portfolio and another on its way, Koczur has a lot planned for her senior year as a duke. Be sure to check out her display window outside of the courtyards to check out her work, and stay tuned for another This Is York ‘Under The Monocle’ about another one of York’s own AP Art students.

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