WHS senior Jake Young's photos take second, third at Oregon State Fair

A self-taught photographer brought two ribbons home to Wilsonville from the Oregon State Fair this year.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - A second-place ribbon is attached to Jake Youngs photo, Swing Ride.Jake Young, a senior at Wilsonville High School, entered the maximum number of photos and took both second and third place in the black-and-white division for students ages 13 to 18. His second-place photo, “Swing Ride,” captured a moment on a carnival ride from last year’s fair. His third-place winner, ”Geometric Me,” was a Photoshop-enhanced self-portrait.

“I would have entered more if I could,” Young said. He added that he admired many of the photos he competed against. “It’s too bad they couldn’t give out more ribbons and prizes. Some of them were really good.”

Although Young currently is enrolled in an AP photography course at his high school, that is his first time in a photography class. Despite the lack of training, his photos’ success at the fair is not his first win. Last school year, two photos that he entered in the Scholastic Art Awards qualified for the national judging in New York City. While his photos did not place in the national competition, one was selected to go on to a competition in Texas.

Young has been teaching himself photography for about a decade.

“I got my first camera when I was maybe 7 or 8,” he said. “It was this dinky, clear purple plastic film camera. ... After that, I had some not-so-great little digital cameras.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Jake Young stands next to his prize-winning photo, Geometric Me.After his fair win, Young ordered a new camera, a Nikon D510 that he is excited to start using in place of his mother’s old digital camera from 2008.

“It’s a really big upgrade, because I’m going from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera,” Young said. “DSLRs are more aimed for professionals, and you can use different lenses. It’s really great because there’s so much more you can do and the pictures you can take are so much better. There are limits to a point-and-shoot camera. But you just work with what you’ve got.”

Young’s experience using older equipment taught him one valuable lesson he’s not likely to forget.

“It’s not the camera that makes a good picture; it’s the person taking it,” he said.

Because he is new to photography classes, Young needed permission to skip photography 1 and 2 and enroll directly in the AP course.

“I talked to the photography teacher and sent her some of my pictures, and she said, ‘Yeah, you can take AP,’” Young said.

He’s not really sure what to expect, although he is looking forward to the class, especially because just two other students are enrolled.

“It’s going to be really interesting to be in a class so small,” he said.

After school, Young would like to study something art-related, perhaps graphic design. Above all, he hopes to travel widely.

“There’s so much in the world to see,” he said. “On Instagram, I follow people from all over the world ... and I say, ‘One day, I’m going to visit there.’”

Judging by his quick start in photography competition, it’s not hard to imagine that, one day, people will be following him.

The Oregon State Fair was held from Aug. 23 to Sept. 2 in Salem. View a complete list of winners in all non-animal competitions at

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