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House fire sparks student’s passion for photography
LONDON, ENGLAND —After an electrical fire led to the destruction of her family home five years ago, sophomore photography major Gabrielle Deimeke became obsessed with taking pictures. Deimeke said her family thought there would be time to salvage some of the house, but by the time firefighters arrived, they had lost almost everything to the flames, including the pictures that captured many of their memories.
Her parents managed to grab their wedding albums, and Deimeke grabbed her camera, which had a few photos from friends’ birthday parties. She said those were the only pictures her family was able to save. Deimeke said she had always loved to take pictures, but the hardship pushed her photography from a hobby to a passion.
“It definitely changed my perspective of photography,” Deimeke said. “Instead of just doing it for fun, it became a way that I could kind of collect memories of my life and capture them.”
None of her family members were hurt during the accident. It was caused by lightning that struck the electrical outlet of their home during a storm. The family has implemented lightning rods on their new home as a precaution.
Deimeke said she has been afraid of lightning and fire since the severe storm. However, the fear does not obstruct her passion for capturing those split second moments, like lightning striking.
“I like to capture things like water that’s spilling out of a cup or lightning midair,” Deimeke said. “I like using photography to capture moments that the human eye usually misses.”
Deimeke said she loved taking pictures even as a child. With her mother’s camera and a quick finger on the shutter button, she started capturing moments
through pictures at age eight. She said her first photos were of her mom, dad and brother. Her mother Lori Deimeke, however, does not remember Gabrielle Deimeke’s first photographs the same as she describes them.
“It was frustrating to pick up a roll of developed film to find 24 exposures of the floor or ceiling at an angle, but very funny to think about now,” Lori Deimeke said. “I think giving her the freedom to experiment with those small pocket cameras allowed her to become self-disciplined in finding that special view in a subject today.”
Gabrielle Deimeke’s passion for photography grew and by age 13 she put down her mother’s camera and got her own. Landscapes and nature were her favorite subjects. Today, Gabrielle Deimeke, 19, enjoys taking pictures of concerts, food, fashion, nature and people.
She takes family photos about three times a year. She specifically remembers a family photo she took last fall when temperatures were in the low 40s. Even though not all family members were on board for the photo shoot, she made sure the memory was captured.
“I made them all run outside even though it was actually freezing out, and we finally got our dog to sit straight for a minute to take the picture,” Gabrielle Deimeke said. “At the time they were a bit annoyed, but we are all really glad now that we have pictures of our family together.”
Gabrielle Deimeke intends to document her life. She said on average she takes a few hundred photos a week. Gabrielle Deimeke is currently studying abroad at Regents University in London, where her new photo count is close to a few thousand a week. Since arriving there in January she has taken over 30,000 pictures.
Last month Gabrielle Deimeke had her first taste of macaroons in a café in the London district of Covent Garden. She photographed this moment as she does with any food she eats that looks visually appealing. Gabrielle Deimeke said she hopes to remember how good the food was by referring back to the photo of it.
Her photos have been awarded three times in online literary publications. They have won several first and second place finishes at the local Missouri fair, as
well. Gabrielle Deimeke has also started her own photography business where she takes wedding and engagement photos, and she sells landscape pictures she has taken.
Gabrielle Deimeke’s 15-year-old brother Ethan Deimeke said he was too young during the time of the fire to remember exactly how the accident affected her fondness for taking pictures. He said he has always enjoyed watching her take photos and offering his encouragement and criticism.
“Though I was a little too young at the time to really understand or appreciate good photography — or investment in any hobby at all — I enjoyed watching my sister learn the art,” Ethan Deimeke said. “I tried to give her encouragement when the picture was good and honest critique when I didn’t like the photo.”
Since the house fire Gabrielle Deimeke said she has been using technology and social media to store her photos. She manages an online portfolio, blog and Facebook account where she can keep her photos “safe.” She said the ability to store her pictures on different platforms online as well as saving them to an external memory has helped her feel at ease.
“If I lose the print image, it’s gone,” Gabrielle Deimeke said. “So I think in that way, using online and digital applications for my photography has given me a peace of mind that I won’t lose those memories.”