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PUBLISHED: 11:31 AM on Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Picture Perfect
Young photographer captures praise, life in Southeast
JUNEAU - Fifteen-year-old Jayleen Beedle was out late photographing orcas from her family's skiff launched from their home on Shelter Island. It's hard to imagine a better setting for a young photographer to hone her craft.

Jayleen's pictures of breaching humpbacks, soaring eagles and fishing boats are starting to attract attention.

"She's amazing," said award-winning photographer Mark Kelley. "I've never seen a young person so good."

Jayleen lives on Shelter Island (year-round population: 14) with her parents and younger brother. Her father, Jay Beedle, is professional photographer and helped her start taking pictures when she was ten.

"My dad always liked photography," she said. "We'd go out on pretty sunsets and just take pictures."

"We've always thought she had the eye for it," her mother, Eileen, said.

Jayleen is one of the recent winners of fine arts scholarships from the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. She was presented with the Peter Barrett Memorial Photography Scholarship on June 6.

"I feel really blessed," she said.

Kelley said he has been encouraging Jayleen to enter photography contests - local, national, and international. He thinks she could win every one of them.

"I've been looking at these (youth) contests for 20 years," he said, "and I've never seen this quality of work from a young person."

Jayleen said she'd only entered online contests before, and applied for the JAHC scholarship just "for the experience." She didn't expect to win.

Applicants presented portfolios of their photographs and were interviewed about their work.

"It was a good experience just to go through that," Jayleen said.

Jayleen's passion for photography fits in with her passion for exploring her surroundings.

"It kind of goes along with what we love to do already," she said. "And (we) capture what we see."

Jayleen started with a small manual camera and moved on to digital photography as the technology became available.

"We wanted the speed because of wildlife," she said. "So we purchased (400D) amateur-professional Canon cameras. It's just amazing what you can capture with those cameras."

Some of her favorite subjects are notoriously difficult to photograph, such as whales and birds.

"It's hard to get (whale pictures) since you never know when they're going to come up or where," Jayleen said.

She also enjoys trying to capture the antics of ravens.

"Ravens are a challenge for us," Jayleen said. "They're shy out here (on Shelter Island) ... and their flying pattern isn't straight."

Jayleen, who is home-schooled, is looking into colleges where she can study photography.

"I'd love to keep up with photography," she said, "and see it through to something great."

Kelley thinks she's well on her way to greatness.

"I've never gotten photo envy from a fifteen-year-old before," he said.

To see photos by Jayleen and her family visit www.islandimagesalaska.com. For more information about the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council visit www.jahc.org or call 586-ARTS.

For a complete list of winners of JAHC fine arts scholarships and individual grants visit www.capitalcityweekly.com.

Katie Spielberger is a staff writer for the CCW. Contact her at katie.spielberger@capweek.com


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