Youth Spotlight: Meet Matt, Parenthetical’s Photographer

Adolescence is often talked about in terms of transition and change. It is the developmental stage where youth start to form their identity, make autonomous decisions and begin practicing skills they will need for the rest of their lives. At various times, Parenthetical has highlighted how specific experiences such as a first job, extra-curricular activities or fun with friends and family can promote positive development during adolescence and into adulthood. Indeed, research consistently shows that youth who have interests and goals and are able to find stable employment opportunities are happier and more self-sufficient. That’s why we were excited to provide one such experience to a talented young photographer right here on Parenthetical!

A few months back, our Parenthetical website got a facelift – with a new design and new features such as our facebook discussion group. As you may have noticed, we now also have new photographs that are displayed on the main page of our site. These images were taken by Matt Koskinen, a teen that enjoys photography and whose interests include adventure, cinematography, and soccer. I wanted to sit down with Matt to learn more about how he developed his interest in photography, and what sorts of things have been helpful for him as he has found new ways to practice and apply his talents. Check out the interview below, and to see more of Matt’s photography, you can go to his Flickr Page.


Matt, firstly, thank you again for your great job taking photos for our site. Can you tell us how you came to realize that you were interested in photography?

When I was five years old my mother and I went on a day trip to Chicago. I could not stop looking up at the architecture of all the buildings and commenting on it. This is what some people would call an eye, the ability to see things in a creative way. My eye continued to develop, and eventually I started taking photos when I was around eight years old to capture my perspective.


What were the steps or experiences that took you from simple snapping photos to actually finding work opportunities in photography?

After saving up enough money to buy my first DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex) camera, I started to get into a more serious mindset. I entered a photography contest at a local library when I was eleven, and won judges choice. Ever since then, family friends have asked me to take pictures for them, and then they tell others that want pictures, and it keeps spreading. Now I regularly have people contacting me to take photographs of/for them. Once you do something little to get your name out there, the word keeps spreading and spreading and if everyone that knew told one other person, then tons of people will soon know of you and think of you when an opportunity comes up that your skill could be used for.


What’s your favorite thing about photography?

That I can capture a perspective that no one else would see in the exact same way. To freeze a moment in time, an exact moment that will never happen exactly the same again.


For all the parent readers, what would you say are the most important things that adults can do to help young people learn about and apply their interests?

Talk to young people about what they enjoy. Sure some might say video games, or sleeping, but maybe someone would say “inventing and engineering.” That is a very in demand job in todays world and enrolling that person in shop class at school to learn and improve on their interests. Think of ways that they could help around the house, or help friends that you know that could use their skill. This is just one example, but whatever that person is interested in, (within reason) make sure they put it into practice and learn and further their skill. Have them use it to help someone, it will motivate them and give them a good mindset knowing that they have helped. An interest may be a stage, but it is very possible that it could keep furthering and furthering and develop into a future career opportunity.


What are some of the things that you hope to do as you get older?

I hope to travel the world and document it through photographs. I would want to turn this into a book and explain what was happening when I took the photograph, and describe my experiences as I traveled. This adventure may be a long way off, but I have plenty of time to improve and plan before I accomplish it.


Got any questions for Matt? Leave a comment!

Article by Dayana Kupisk

dkupDayana is a graduate student in Human Development & Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Dayana previously worked as a life skills coordinator at a residential living program for teens and young adults. She has one older brother, and, for the first time in her life, is living in a different state from her parents.