Brittney Lybarger likes to view life through the lens of camera.
The 16-year-old sophomore at Richland High School credits a five-week family vacation in 2009 through the western U.S. for piquing her interest in photography.
“We were going to national parks, so it was perfect for taking pictures,” said Lybarger, who is the daughter of David and Lisa Lybarger of Richland Township. “I went out and bought a little 4-megapixel point-and-shoot camera.”
Lybarger said she didn’t really do much with photography until a few years later when she invested in a second camera and shot some photos during Thunder in the Valley.
“I was pooling together birthday and Christmas money to buy it,” she said.
It was around 2011 when Lybarger decided she wanted to become more involved with her photography and starting shooting graduation parties, baby and bridal showers, baptisms and assisting at weddings.
“It was really more of hobby at this point, but I also was saving up to buy a third camera,” Lybarger said.
After buying a third entry level camera, a Nikon D5100 DSLR, she was able to expand on the photos she could take.
“I was getting more work, thanks to word of mouth,” Lybarger said.
She also started to dabble in video and took on a project of creating a total of
15 videos for Emmanuel Baptist Church’s vacation Bible school and other various videos projects for the church such as conducting interviews with individuals who went to Baltimore on a mission trip.
“I think photography and video work together hand in hand,” Lybarger said.
“Typically, my videos are under 10 minutes and I like to do documentaries.”
She also created a documentary on the Johnstown Inclined Plane’s history, with a behind-the-scenes look at the operation.
The video won first place in the regional Technology Student Association Leadership Conference – photography, video and on-demand video categories – and has been submitted for judging to the state Technology Student Association State Leadership Conference.
Lybarger also is looking to submit her work into film festivals, including the Johnstown Film Festival.
“I wanted to do a five-minute documentary on Yankee Shoe Store, but I got down there and ended up with three hours of footage, so I want to turn that into video and submit it to the film festival,” she said.
On the photo end, Lybarger recently invested in a fourth camera, a Nikon D610, and it has allowed her to tackle more challenging work, including shooting photos at the Johnstown Concert Ballet’s annual production of “The Nutcracker.”
A newer project Lybarger has taken on is working with Operation Photo Rescue, a national organization whose mission is to repair photographs damaged by unforeseen circumstances such as house fires and natural disasters at no cost to the people who own them.
“This is all volunteer and takes a lot of time and effort, so I plan to do more of this during the summer,” she said.
Lybarger, who is the youngest member of the Johnstown Camera Club, said she’s basically self-taught and has learned mostly through trial and error.
“It’s been a lot of just picking up the camera and shooting,” she said.”You can only learn so much from blogs and YouTube videos. You just have to get out there and do it.”
As for college, Lybarger is hoping to attend the University of Southern California or New York University, both top-ranked schools for video production.
“A lot of people think I’m going to go into photography, but it’s more of a hobby and it’s something to fall back on,” she said.
Recently, she opened her own studio in her home and officially registered her business, Brittney Lybarger Photography and Video, and is scheduling appointments.
“I don’t like to stick to just one subject, so I could shoot a wedding or a picture of your dog. It’s whatever your preference is,” Lybarger said. “I take pictures of whatever people want.”
Her advice to others looking to get into photography, whether they’re using an iPhone or a top-of-the-line Nikon, is to just start snapping photos.
“I believe that if you work hard enough and find the right people to help, you can do it and get to where you want to be,” Lybarger said.
For more information, visit Lybarger’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/
Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/KellyUrban25.