My name is Vanna Contreras and I am currently pursuing my undergraduate communications degree at Bethel University. I grew up in the Twin Cities and graduated from Saint Louis Park High School. I participated in a variety of athletic and cultural activities throughout high school that encouraged me to continue to participate beyond high school. I accepted a leadership position this fall as an executive director for United Cultures of Bethel in student government.
I thrive on connecting with people and I find value in learning from an individual’s story. I try to find ways to give back to the community and look for ways to serve. I work towards highlighting racial justice issues, unheard voices, finding opportunities to support equal representation, sports photography, and lifestyle photography. When I am not behind my camera, I like to paddle board, shop at my local co-op, watch “Survivor,” travel and spend time with family and friends. I also try to find ways to improve my lifestyle by looking for healthier food choices, sticking to a self-care routine, weight lifting, running and swimming.
I am passionate about capturing moments that speak a thousand words.
Photographs communicate in a unique way that brings stories alive. When I take photographs for a story, I try to visualize potential photo shots and I look for different angles that people typically do not see to emphasize a message. I look for opportunities to capture diverse photographs such as the atmosphere, people’s emotion, and actions, as well as stillness. When I step into a place where emotions are intense and/or individuals are vulnerable, empathy and patience are critical to practice.
As a photographer, I view individuals as complex people with a unique life story. When I snap a photo of an individual I try my best to convey their story.
What I value about working with a small newspaper is the ability to work with the community. I believe working with the community makes a person more compassionate and well-rounded which is an important life experience. Without a diverse exposure to community members, individuals lack the opportunity to grow and to bond with others. Sometimes, it can mean distrust and divisions are perpetuated. I want to do my part to contribute to the communities we serve.