Kristina Schroeder, nicknamed "Kika" by friends and family, always has been enthralled by people.
"I find people fascinating," explained the 22-year-old Port Angeles native. "I love taking portraits of people."
Her fascination helps explain her drive. Just a few years out of high school, Schroeder not only holds down two jobs - as a substitute paraeducator in the Port Angeles School District and at the YMCA - but she also has opened her own photography business and teaches digital photography classes.
Schroeder is matter-of-fact when asked how she began her business, which she calls Kika's Photography.
"I started taking pictures of people and thought of a business name," she said, laughing. "I just wanted to start out somehow."
Schroeder began by taking snaps of friends and family, generally individual portraits. Her eventual goal, she explained, is to become a wedding photographer.
"People are asking me to do more and more family portraits," Schroeder said. "I'm also doing engagement photos and I'm working up to weddings."
Although she feels comfortable capturing the essence of the people she photographs, weddings are a whole new ball game.
"It's a lot of pressure," she said, explaining that her aunt is a wedding photographer in central Oregon. "You're responsible for taking pictures of the most important time in someone's life."
As she's worked, Schroeder said she has noticed a pattern on the peninsula, especially among senior citizens.
"People buy these great digital cameras and then don't know exactly how to use them," she said. "I wanted to be able to help them learn how to take great pictures with their new cameras."
Schroeder decided to team up with the Port Angeles YMCA and teach a four-session digital photography class. When she offered her skills, she said she was a little unsure of what the response would be.
"I wasn't sure if people would want to sign up," she said. "Now, classes are full and there is a waiting list. I was amazed."
She said she hopes to continue teaching more classes.
Schroeder's love for people and capturing them on film is so embedded in her that she can't even explain how she got started. When asked, she furrowed her brow for a few moments, then shook her head.
"You know what," Schroeder said, "people have asked me that before and I can't think of an answer. You can just do so much with people."
For more information on Kika's Photography, visit her Web site at kikasphotography.com/ or call 460-6839.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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