Everyone has a story.
Here is mine.

A picture of me taken in late 2015

My name is Faith Ripa and I love creating beautiful things.

Ever since I started school, I always put a lot of my energy in the creative aspect of learning. I loved being assigned projects, art, writing, and music classes, and I was always trying to make my name look beautiful on the tops of all my papers. I excelled in all school work I did, regardless of it was math, science, or art. However, I poured myself into work that I could express myself through it.

As time went on, I realized more and more what my niches were. Before, I felt like a freak because I didn't find anything interesting about science, physical education, history, or math. When I was able to take a photography class my sophomore year in high school, I discovered my natural talent of finding the beauty in things and capturing it.

I became obsessed. My parents bought me my first DSLR camera when I was 15 : a Pentax KR. I never went anywhere without it. I started taking pictures of my friends, editing them during my photography class, and asking my teacher for her advice. She helped me grow in my skill and encouraged me in everything I did.

After a few months, I started my own photography business. I would take pictures of my friends, post them on Facebook, and hear back from viewers. Eventually I started getting messages from people who wanted to pay me to take pictures, so I took advantage of that. I started a photography page through Facebook, posted my work, and kept up with the page every week. My business soon took off and got a lot of publicity from people in my town. In 2014, I started up a weebly page for my photography and used it to market on a larger scale. My photography was a release and I always enjoyed every minute of it.

My specialty in photography is portraits. I realized that I fed off of the joy people felt when they saw pictures of themselves that I took. Everyone loves to feel beautiful, and through my encouragement during the shoot, I would affirm my models when pictures came out well. Their smiles and excitement kept me going in the field.

Although photography was a huge passion of mine, I wasn't feeling the desire to major in it. While I love taking portraits of people, I want photography to always remain a hobby for me. I do not ever want to feel like it is an obligation I have and in turn drain the joy I receive while doing it. When I researched colleges and saw JMU had the SMAD program, I realized it had a lot to offer creative students, and I decided to declare the major as a freshman.

Everything about the SMAD program makes me happy. Just like in photography, I love bringing joy to people through my work. This applies to my work as a SMAD major. Everything in SMAD is a creation of some sort that you get to pour yourself into; I find that the projects done in my SMAD classes have been thoroughly enjoyable in every way. While it is graded work, it is also a part of me that I created in a tangible form.

To this day, I am a creator. I love creating graphics, stories, and images for people to enjoy. I will forever thrive off of the feeling I get when someone sees a something of mine and tells me the ways it inspires or speaks to them. My hope is that no matter what I do in life, I will be able to create and impact.

me and the sun
Capturing the Virginia Sunset in the late summer of 2015.