Columbia Photography Student Shares Her Passion for Her Craft
At age seven, Corinne Pompey took her parents’ camera and captured a photo of herself under a piano bench. Now, over a decade later, Pompey is earning a BA in Photography at Columbia College Chicago, which she will complete in the fall of 2022, and her work is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Exhibit. Corinne tells us about her passion for photography and shares advice for others interested in photography as a career.
When did you become interested in photography and what was it that inspired you to become a photographer?
I first became interested in photography when I was around seven years old. I had found my parents’ old point and shoot and started taking pictures around the house; I still have the first photo I ever took. It’s a mirror selfie, and I’m tucked under the piano bench looking into the mirror. I remember feeling so inspired in that moment, I was amazed with the fact that I just took a moment in time and that I’d have it forever. I think the main thing that inspired me to become a photographer was the fact that I think in pictures; ever since I was little, I saw pictures in my head when visualizing things. Plus, I had never been nearly as passionate about anything as much as photography. Thus, being the reason I’ve never parted with my camera.
Can you tell us about your work appearing in the Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Exhibition?
The work on display at the exhibition right now are two really important pieces to me. One, titled “Cornered,” is one of the first photos I ever took on a 4 x 5 View Camera. It was the start of me falling in love with the camera, which is evident with the meticulous focal planes in the image. The other photograph is an untitled self-portrait. Although it was taken digitally, it was the beginning of a 4 x 5 series I am really passionate about. It proved to be the starting point for a whole project that I didn’t know I needed to make.
How did you find out that your work would be featured and what was your reaction?
I was working at the studio and decided to check my personal email. That’s when I saw a message from the head curator of the Black Creativity Exhibition; it read, “Congratulations! Your work has been selected…” I jumped out of my seat and ran over to my co-worker to tell her the news. I had to wait a couple of days to tell my parents because of busy schedules (the suspense killed me), but when I finally did, they cried and were so ecstatic. It was such a moment. I’ll never forget it.
What are some of your favorite projects that you have worked on?
My favorite project to date is my newest series. Utilizing self-portraiture and a 4 x 5 View Camera, I was able to explore womanly existence and identity. This series will be in an exhibition during Manifest this year, which I am very excited about. The reason it is my favorite project is simply because of the vulnerability I chose to put into the work; it was a true journey, both emotionally and artistically. I cannot wait to share that work with the public once the exhibition is open.
Are you a part of any photography organizations?
I am a member of Black Women Photographers, an organization that creates a safe community for Black women photographers to grow, communicate, and collaborate.
What are your plans for after graduation?
In addition to freelance work, I plan to keep making the work I love. The overall goal is to get represented by a Chicago photography gallery. I plan to continue working hard to show my work around the city. I also plan to travel after graduation—lots of hiking and road tripping!
What advice would you give to others pursuing a degree or career in photography?
To those pursuing a degree or career in photography, please remember to make your personal work. I see so many student photographers that have forgotten/never took the time to figure out what they genuinely enjoy photographing. Don’t focus on just completing the assignments, go above and beyond because when you leave school… all you really have is your portfolio. Stay after class, ask questions, photograph even when you don’t feel like it. Your future self will thank you.