Debbie Vosejpka leverages certificate into dream career.
Debbie Vosejpka, 46, used to work in middle management at the Malt-O-Meal Company in Northfield, Minn. One day she decided that she wanted more from her job and her life.
“I started attending classes part-time at Dakota County Technical College,” Vosejpka said. “I really liked the atmosphere at DCTC. The classes are small and the teachers care about their students.”
Vosejpka was initially interested in graphic design technology, but switched majors after taking the Introductory to Photography class taught by Darrell Tangen, a photographic technology instructor. She fell in love with photography and credits Tangen with making the subject accessible and exciting.
“Darrell is a fabulous teacher,” Vosejpka said. “After taking his class, I knew that I wanted to be a professional photographer with my own studio.”
Today, Vosejpka is living her dream. She runs her own portrait studio, Cherished Moments Photography, out of her home in Lonsdale, Minn. She specializes in children, high school seniors, families and weddings.
A working mother of four, Vosejpka earned her photographer assistant certificate at DCTC. She started out shooting film, but hit her stride as a digital photographer. To stay on top of her game, she attends as many seminars, workshops and short courses as possible.
“I recommend seminars for everyone in our profession,” she said. “There’s so much to learn and photographic technology is constantly changing.”
“I love my job. How many people can really say that? Thanks to DCTC—I can. I actually get paid to play.”
Darrell Tangen understands the challenges presented by digital technology and cameras in general. He noted that students interested in pursuing photography often have difficulty finding a good course that covers all the tools and techniques of the trade.
“The Intro to Photography course has a name that is slightly misleading as it goes way beyond the introduction of photography by providing a good balance of more than 70 hours of lecture, demonstrations and instructor-guided shooting,” Tangen reported. “I find that giving good feedback to students like Debbie can really ignite the passion and enjoyment that comes with learning how to capture those rare and precious moments.”
Born in Blue Earth and a graduate of Northfield High School, Vosejpka doesn’t think of her job as work. Woods surround her home-based studio and she even has a creek tumbling through her property. She often uses the outdoors as a backdrop for her subjects—she especially enjoys photographing children and high school seniors.
Vosejpka took third place in portrait photography at a recent Twin Cities Professional Photographers Association competition. Two of her works, Baseball Girland Boys in a Bathtub, won merit awards. She plans on entering the photos in the upcoming Northern Lights Competition, which is a statewide event.
“I love my job,” Vosejpka related. “How many people can really say that? Thanks to DCTC—I can. I actually get paid to play.”
Equipped with a wide variety of traditional and digital technical skills, graduates of the Photographic Imaging Technology program are fully prepared for employment in the industry. Versed in photography, film and paper processing, quality control, professional printing and computer and software operation, graduates have the skill set to make informed career decisions in a field undergoing continual development.
Backed by hands-on experience with traditional and digital photographic equipment, graduates of the Photography program are prepared for self-employment, transfer to a four-year college, or direct entry into the visual communications field. Immersed in courses and projects that reflect real-world assignments, students gain comprehensive knowledge of the business, art and science of photography.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national employment for photographers is expected to grow 10 percent through 2016. Salaried photographers had median annual earnings of $26,170 as of May 2006, with top earners making nearly $57,000 a year.
Minnesota’s Internet System for Education and Employment Knowledge, or ISEEK, reports that the average hourly wage is $19.96 for photographers in Minnesota, or more than $41,000 a year. Photographers in the seven-county Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area make considerably more, with an average of $23.72 an hour, or $49,339 a year.