Northeastern University’s own Emily Tebbetts had the golden chance of watching Taylor Swift performing in West Virginia in 2007. It was a free show arranged in a park in the summer, right before the singer-songwriter started getting famous around the globe. Fast forward to 2012, five years later, Tebbetts met the singer in person, after she won Sony’s ‘Up Close’ contest.
Sony ran a contest where 2700 photographers competed, which ran for around 80 hours. Top 100 candidates were decided after the participants uploaded their portfolios on social media platforms. Sony photographers Nigel Barker, Matthew Jordan Smith, Brian Smith, among others, were in the internal judging panel, who ultimately chose Tebbetts as the winner.
“It felt like I was dreaming the whole time,” said Tebbetts. “It was so exciting. I couldn’t believe I got this amazing opportunity.” She found Swift funny, down to earth, and very considerate when it came to her friends.
Tebbetts saw how the procedure went into making a commercial, gaining some invaluable insights behind the stage. She was able to take proper shots of the singer’s day, as Taylor Swift was very comfortable in front of the lens. Barker coached her by giving her on-the-set pointers which just added to her knowledge. It was especially important, as Tebbetts has been a photography buff for ages, with her hobby transforming into something even more serious during her high school.
Her portfolio is quite versatile and the addition of this little project to it made her receive a lot of job offers. It is evident how good she is when Sony invited her to be a camera assistant for one of their gigs. “Emily is a great photographer who does amazing work,” he said. “It’s been a really great partnership with her.”
Tebbetts gave real serious thought to making photography her potential career. She did express her interest in working at nonprofit as well as making her photography portfolio bigger and better simultaneously.
“That’s the beauty of Northeastern,” she added. “You get to try everything out and see what works for you, get real-world experience and figure out what you want to do.”