Micala Herigon ’16
Major: Graphic Design with a Photography concentration
Career: Music photographer
I Was Weird
I was the weird, artsy kid growing up. I lived in a small town in Missouri and never really fit in. I got my first point-and-shoot camera when I was in the fifth grade. I would take pictures of everything I could find. My favorite things to photograph were bugs. I loved them and wanted to be an entomologist — I even had a pet praying mantis named Manti. I was definitely weird!
When I was in high school, I started taking pictures of people and getting interested in portrait photography. I would take photos of anyone who would let me. By senior year, I was booking actual clients. I really enjoyed it and decided it could be a full-fledged business.
At first, I didn’t even want to go to college.
I figured that since I already knew I was going to be a photographer, I didn’t need it. But my parents convinced me to give it a try. I went to community college for free for two years through Missouri’s A+ program, during which time I developed an interest in graphic design. I had taken a couple of introductory design classes during high school, and I really enjoyed Photoshop and photo manipulation. So, I began looking for a college with a graphic design program. And I found William Woods.
Falling in Love with William Woods
My best friend went to WWU, and when I toured the campus, I just absolutely loved it. I had planned to tour three other schools, but after seeing William Woods, I knew I didn’t need to visit anywhere else.
The best part: meeting the graphic design professor, Bob Elliott. I talked with him for two hours the day of my tour. I wanted to work with him because he inspired me so much.
After interacting with him as a student for two years, Professor Elliott really shaped who I am today. He has completely changed my outlook on how I want to do things, run my business, build my brand, and market myself. My favorite thing about William Woods is how dedicated the professors are to their students and how much they want to help you succeed.
When I first toured William Woods, I had this huge aspiration to be a music photographer. I had never photographed a band in my entire life! But I have a passion for music and am always at concerts, so I wanted to mash that together with my background in photography. I didn’t know anyone else doing that type of photography, so I liked how it helped set me apart. Professor Elliott inspired me to keep pushing that dream — even though I had no idea what I was doing at first.
While I was a student at William Woods, I won a contest to photograph the Warped Tour, a traveling rock music festival. It was an incredible experience, and my career just kind of skyrocketed from there. I started photographing other tours (such as the Alternative Press Tour) and groups (like the punk band Mayday Parade). I recently shot the band The Used. They have been my favorite band since I was a kid and are a huge part of the reason that I have such a passion for music. They used my photos on their social media with their millions of fans. It has been the highlight of my music photography career so far.
I’m photographing bands almost every week at this point. I have created images for over 100 bands, including Soundgarden, Underoath, The Offspring, and Good Charlotte. Band music photography is not like your typical photography. It’s a crazy, fast-paced, hectic adrenaline rush. There’s tons of stuff happening around you when you’re in the photography pit. The band is in front of you, and you’re surrounded by other photographers and security guards, with the crowd behind you. There have been multiple times when crowd surfers have fallen on top of me while I’m shooting. Afterwards, I feel like I’m pulsing.
The WWU Art Family
I wouldn’t be where I am today without William Woods. I enjoyed my whole experience here. The graphic design program is extremely fun. It’s like an art family. And the classes are amazing. Digital Art is the best class. It’s all photo manipulation, which involves tons of creativity. For one of our final projects, we had to do this surreal photo manipulation and it was so interesting to rack your brain and figure out what you could imagine. I also enjoyed the Studio Photography course, because I don’t usually work in a studio setting. It was exciting to challenge myself and learn different techniques.
In the spring, all of the senior art majors put on an art show. It was the highlight of my college experience. It was so much fun being able to work closely with the other art students. A group of us would go to the Mac Lab, hunker down, and get all this work done. In the show, I displayed a huge wall collage of all of my music photography and it was incredibly rewarding.
I was not ready to graduate. Sometimes I feel like I was ripped off because I was only here for two years. I wish I had attended The Woods all four years. In the two years I was a student, I grew so much as an artist and I owe that to the William Woods art faculty.
How a Graphic Design Degree Helps
I laugh now when I think of how unsure I was about going to college. I figured that since I knew how to work my camera, I knew what I was doing. Photography and graphic design are so self-taught. A lot of people will say that they don’t need to go to college because they already have the skills. But, for me, the best part of school was getting the motivation of someone pushing me to do more, to learn more.
For example, I took a class where we got certified in Photoshop, which is a huge resume builder. I knew the ins-and-outs of the program, but this class taught me a lot of new things to help me be a faster and more efficient artist.
It was probably one of the most difficult, useful, and fun classes I took.
Another advantage of the program was portfolio building. A lot of my portfolio work is from William Woods, and it has helped me diversify. I now shoot mainly portraits and music, but during the program I had to shoot editorial and commercial stuff as well. That experience helps illustrate all of the different things I can do — which I never would have found time for outside of school. It’s good to have that motivation to get all these different projects done, so you have a diverse portfolio when you get out into the work force.
I loved the graphic design program here so much. It helped me build my artistic skills, and I think it will pair well with my career. I want to incorporate marketing and graphic design with music photography, helping bands brand and market themselves. Having these extra abilities may make musicians more likely to hire me. Not only can I take promo and live shots, but I can design a logo or album cover. Eventually, I would absolutely love to be an art director for a music publication or a band.
To view Micala’s work, check out her website.
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