Anika Kaplan is “technically” a senior, but this year, her third year of high school, will mark her last. Kaplan has plans to attend New York University’s art school, yet she won’t be applying until the rest of her 2018 classmates. What makes Kaplan able to do this is her love of one thing: photography.
Kaplan began photographing at a young age with her grandfather, who is one of her role models. “My grandpa was my first inspiration and I think a lot of feminist photographers inspire me, like Lauren Greenfield and other documentary photographers,” Kaplan said. “They inspired me to focus on what I’m doing and photograph for a purpose.”
In her work, Kaplan primarily uses film over digital as a medium, as it requires more skill. “I like that you actually have to think about what you’re gonna shoot right before you do it,” Kaplan said. “With digital you can kind of just go on forever and you’ll almost never run out of space, so you can kind of shoot everything, but with film you really have to think about it more because you only have a select number of shots you can take.” She also chooses to shoot humans because of the deeper meaning her photographs convey. “I think people’s interactions, how they interact with the world and everything surrounding them, [is] really interesting,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan realized how deep her love for photography ran over the summer, when she traveled to New York for a month to attend an art program hosted by NYU. While she was there, she took classes for college credit and made the decision to finish high school a year early. “I was in New York, and all the people I was doing the program with were seniors and they were gonna graduate this year and just thinking about being in high school for two more years sounded absolutely terrible,” Kaplan said. “If I had the option to graduate early, I would want to work my hardest to get there.”
In order to be considered a senior and graduate with the credits Tam requires, Kaplan had to double up on many required courses, such as English and History here at Tam. In addition, she takes science and math classes at Fusion Academy so she can take photography and her regular junior level classes here as well.
Even though Kaplan is graduating early, she is using the year she would traditionally be a senior to focus on photography. During this gap year, she plans on diving into the art community to get as much experience as she can. “What I’m gonna do is do internships in New York…so I can hopefully refine my portfolio and then I’ll apply for college in the fall [of 2018],” Kaplan said. After, her dream is to NYU, go into editorial work and from there become a freelancer.
Kaplan says her family, although initially surprised at her choice to graduate early, are completely supportive. “[My parents] were a little confused I think but since I have two brothers and our apartment’s really crowded, I think my brothers are excited because they get their own room and my parents are excited for me because I get to figure out what I want to do,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan’s advice for anyone who thinks they want to follow a similar path is to go for it. “Commit to [your passion] once you make the decision and know that you’re going to have to work really hard to where you want to be, and that failure is gonna happen but if you keep going, you’ll make it, hopefully.”