Senior profile: Sam Priestley

Senior profile: Sam Priestley

Photo courtesy of Sam Priestley

For most seniors, the first day of this school year marked the beginning months of submitting college applications and waiting to hear responses. But for Sam Priestley, it was just the first day of senior year. As a junior, Priestley decided not to go to college, instead choosing to pursue a career in photography.

“Knowing that I already have a solid technical base for my photography, I figured I would try to do it on my own instead of paying the $200,000 that I would need to go through all four years of schooling,” Priestley said. “And if [my plan doesn’t work out], then I can reassess.”

According to Priestley, his friends and family are supportive of his plans after high school. He said the unknown is the most difficult part of his plan.

“What I’m trying to do is going to be difficult and I just don’t know how it’s going to work out,” Priestley said. “I think that’s the scariest part, actually doing what it’s going to take to get to the point that I want to get to.”

Mitch Eden, journalism adviser, worked with Priestley for three years on Pioneer. According to Eden, he first noticed Priestley’s eye for photography during his freshman year in Photojournalism and reached out to him about joining Pioneer.

Sam is a creative thinker, talented artistically and he’s not a box-checker.”

— Mitch Eden

“Sometimes, with boys in particular, they don’t want to join a publication because they think they’re almost selling out, like they want to stay cool,” Eden said. “Sam wasn’t like that. Sam said, ‘Heck yeah, I’ll do it.’”

Emma Wright, senior, has worked with Priestley for three years on Pioneer. She said Priestley is a talented photographer who cares deeply about his work.

“Sam has a way to make a photo unique,” Wright said. “It’s something that not a lot of people bring to our staff, but he’s been able to teach and share his skills with a lot of our staffers.”

With the skills he gained from working on Pioneer, Priestley plans to take a year off to pursue his photography career. Eden believes this plan is smart for a student like Priestley.

“Some kids just don’t fit high school. High school is built for kids to stand in line, check boxes and be taskmasters, which I think fails a lot of kids,” Eden said. “Sam is a creative thinker, talented artistically and he’s not a box-checker.”