Education through a Fast Lens

Ellie McNamara

Photography student Ellie McNamara takes a running start at college

How many students graduate high school in the spring and start college in the fall with 19 college credits? Any number of higher ed research analysts might know the answer, but Dakota County Technical College has one for certain, Ellie McNamara, 19, a 2014 graduate of Hastings High School. As a Post-Secondary Enrollment Options, or PSEO, student at DCTC, Ellie earned 15 college credits while still in high school. The summer after graduating she earned another four credits by taking a couple more college courses, including Advanced Photo Lighting Techniques.

Having been a straight A student in high school, Ellie was up to the challenge of college-level learning. “I didn’t find the classes that much different,” she said. “I liked that scheduling was flexible because I also work as a teller at a bank in Hastings.”

Ellie chose to attend DCTC full-time as a student in the Photography program because she loves the atmosphere on campus and was impressed by the faculty, especially Bill Eilers, one of her photography instructors.

“I like the way Bill Eilers teaches,” Ellie said. “You don’t just memorize facts in his classes; he makes sure you incorporate what he teaches. Learning is hands-on and you take it with you.”

Bill Eilers considers Ellie McNamara a remarkable student. “Ellie is bright and talented,” he said. “She’s a full-time student who also works. She hopes to graduate from DCTC in record time with high marks—and she’s got the drive, dedication and work ethic to do it.”

Ellie’s favorite type of photography is shooting landscapes, particularly sunsets. “I love the colors,” she said. “I love capturing the moment and sharing the beauty of the world with others.” She shoots with a Canon Rebel, likes her 50mm lens and appreciates the work of Art Wolfe, a renowned American nature and cultural photographer.

Two of Ellie’s photos won big in the 2014 Rivertown Days Photography Contest and were featured in the Hastings Star Gazette. Ellie took first place in the Historic Hastings category and second place in the Landscape category.

First place: Rivertown Days Photo Contest: Historic Hastings Second place: Rivertown Days Photo Contest: Landscape

Ellie grew up in rural Hastings and is a farm girl at heart; her grandfather was once a farmer. She loves dirt bikes and four-wheeling and working on her Chevy Silverado. She also enjoys painting, both acrylic and watercolor, reading novels of all kinds, and writing, the latter talent something that comes to her naturally.

After graduating from DCTC, Ellie plans on transferring to Minnesota State Mankato with the goal to earn a B.F.A. in graphic design. She has centered her career plans on becoming a professional graphic designer. Augmenting her photography skills can only accelerate her prospects for success. The same principles apply—and awesome photography invariably relies on an exceptional eye for design.

Ellie McNamara photography gallery

All images © Ellie McNamara

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