Anthem teen pursues her passion for photography

Focused on the Future

Anthem teen pursues her passion for photography.

By Emma Suttell

Photos by Skylar Hellie and Marley Turner

Rachel Kurtenbach has been developing her career since eighth grade. The 18-year-old Boulder Creek High School student grew up influenced by the nature of the Anthem community, from being a daughter of a Diamond Canyon English teacher to spending many of her days swimming at the community center.

In eighth grade, Rachel received her first camera, something that changed her life and helped her solidify her career goals. Ultimately, Rachel is aiming for a career in fashion photojournalism. “I’m so interested in researching culture, fashion, and people; that’s my favorite thing right now” she says, mentioning her blog that she started earlier this year. “I’m hoping to have my blog go hand-in-hand with my photography business, and move that into creating a freelance photojournalism career for myself. I’m hoping to network.”

Rachel refers to something that has greatly helped her build her brand, Rachel Kurtenbach Photography. She delights in sending finished photos to her clients and relishes in the moments when a client is absolutely elated to see their pictures. “A lot of the time people will tell me ‘You made me look so beautiful!’ and I love that, it feels so good,” Rachel says. As with most things, there are downsides to the job, Rachel says that the biggest drawback of being a “small” photographer, especially as a high-schooler, is that she doesn’t yet have a steady income of clientele.

She participated in the Teen Vogue x Parsons Fashion Essentials Program, a certificate program that touched base on each different part of the fashion industry. Before taking part in the program, Rachel recognized her own strengths in fashion, photography, and writing, but she wasn’t sure which path she wanted to take. The program helped her to focus and develop a rounded view of all of the different aspects of each industry and how much work they require.

Not only did the Teen Vogue x Parsons program inspire her career goals, but it gave her an idea of how to serve and give back to her community. Through the program, Rachel developed a strong skillset for creating and writing resumes. Rachel wants to use her newfound skills to potentially take portraits for people seeking jobs. She points out that combining taking portraits with teaching a resume-writing class would be beneficial to those needing help navigating the job-search process in the community.

Rachel, however, is no stranger to community service. As an actively involved member of BCHS’s student government, Rachel values organizing events for the community; one of her favorite events of the year is Tailgating for Homecoming week.

During her junior year, Rachel was contacted by Red Light Rebellion, a non-profit dedicated to educating students about sex-trafficking. She worked alongside some of her peers in a Downtown Phoenix photoshoot to represent the message of the organization as well as promote their new shirts. What did she find from the experience? “It felt good to give my art back to the community” she says with a grin on her face, “I definitely want to do more of that.”

Rachel credits her success to her family members, referring especially to her mom, who has been her rock throughout her childhood. “My mom has truly been the most important person in my life to me,” says Rachel. “I was always starting new, crazy, creative endeavors and she has always been there to support me through it.”

After graduating this May, Rachel hopes to pursue her dreams full time. She’s hoping to get involved in a career as a flight attendant while doing freelance photojournalism and writing on her blog.

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