During his sophomore year as an international student from Japan, Kento Igarashi transferred to SUNY Oneonta from SUNY Fulton-Montgomery, took his first course learning about professional cameras and discovered a passion for photography. Less than a year later, Igarashi began a graphic design internship, created a portrait series featuring local auto mechanics and is pursuing a photography concentration.
Why SUNY Oneonta?
When I was younger, I dreamed of studying abroad. I’ve played basketball for most of my life, and I wanted to play it at a university. I tried to join the SUNY Oneonta Men’s Basketball team but couldn’t make it. The coach recommended I join the Intramural Association to play basketball. We meet twice a week and there are always new people. We play five on five pickup games if we have enough players.
SUNY Oneonta was not my first pick, but they offered me scholarships. One of the scholarships I received was the Jean Parish Scholarship for Art majors. That’s why I chose the college at the time and transferred from SUNY Fulton-Montgomery Community College, but I’m glad I made that decision.
About My Major
The SUNY Oneonta Art Department is small, compared to other art schools, but I really like being in a small classroom. You get to be close to the professor, and I like that because you get more one-on-one interaction.
Assistant Professor Wesley Bernard is a photography professor here who has taught me a lot. I didn’t know anything about cameras at first. I am taking Digital Photography II this semester with him, which is more about conceptual photography, and I am excited for this course.
I’m still trying to figure out what my “dream job” is, but at this point, I want to be a photographer. I really like to capture facial expression and people in the moment, and I like street photography too. I think it’s hard to be an artist and make a living, but people need their picture taken, and I see the possibility to make money.
I had a pop-up studio booth at the CANO (Community Arts Network of Oneonta) event in December 2023, and I was able to take portrait photos of people. That experience helped me because I was in the real world as a photographer.
Occupations of Oneonta Photography Project
Professor Bernard gave us a project to take portrait photographs of people with different occupations in Oneonta. For my project, I had to take photos of mechanics. I went into Oneonta and asked as many mechanics as possible to take their portrait photo, and all of them said yes. I went to about five or six dealerships and took a lot of photos of their mechanics.
They were really open to the photoshoot, and I interviewed them during it. I learned that most of the mechanics were influenced by their dads and families to become a mechanic. Their dads often taught them a lot, and they have been involved with cars since they were young.
Graphic Designer at a Car Dealership
I interned at Five Star Subaru in West Oneonta as a graphic designer. I took pictures of their cars and upload the photos to their website and design posters for advertising. I’ve designed a poster for them about recycling and a poster of an oil change. I also took photos of a mechanic who works there.
I never had a car back when I was in Japan because I didn’t need it. Since I moved here, I’ve learned that people need a car and that you need to have the maintenance work done. I’ve been able to meet nice people who come in and I really liked interning there.
I participated in the turkey trot 5k race sponsored by Five Star Subaru. There were about 1,000 people who participated. It was nice to intern for them because they’re doing projects every month to help the local community. I went to some of their projects as their photographer, like when they donated pet products to a local shelter.
Why Should Students Study Abroad?
You should study abroad because that gives you a unique perspective. Being outside of your own traditional culture helps you to have an understanding about diversity. For me, studying abroad in Oneonta, the people are so nice here. The area feels safe, and the nature is nice too. Every season here is beautiful landscape.