A student photographer is passionate about football and nature |
For Andy Tomek of Shiner, it all started with trying to find something to do someday.
The 17-year-old started photography when he was only 14 years old. He credited his father, Bobby Tomek, who was also a photographer, his mentor and inspiration who ultimately led him to buy a camera.
“He’s had his own photography studio in Shiner for a long, long time,” Tomek said. “He just had some material and I just picked it up and started trying to figure things out.”
Taking a camera and playing with the plethora of lenses for the first time would lead him to the family backyard where he would experience nature photography. With a Nikon D3000 with a 70-300mm lens attached, various flowers, insects and sometimes deer would be the focus of its lens, Tomek said.
“I’ve always loved nature,” Tomek said. “We have all kinds of things next to our house and it’s just very quaint and relaxing.”
Before that, having fun with a simple compact camera was the breadth of his photography knowledge, and the learning curve that came with transitioning to an advanced setup felt very natural and gradual, Tomek said.
“I slowly switched to modes that had fewer automatic settings until I started turning to manual only,” Tomek said.
After a few years of trying to learn the ropes and photographing nature, Tomek said he has taken a big step forward in his profession as a photographer.
“In 2019 I started playing sports and that’s where things started to change,” Tomek said. “So instead of just messing around doing it as a hobby, I took it more seriously and would say the pace picked up.”
Tomek recalled his first sporting event he photographed, which was a baseball game in Hallettsville. Eventually, Tomek’s skills will allow him to land his freelance job with the Victoria Advocate to photograph a soccer game between Shiner and Weimer in 2019.
Besides soccer, Tomek said that soccer is another sport that he is also passionate about shooting. The most exciting part of being on the pitch is the unpredictability that comes with it, Tomek said.
“Being able to predict these things is always like an adrenaline rush for me when doing football photography,” Tomek said. “Get that picture that turns out to be perfect. “
Even though Tomek is more focused on sports photography, with an arsenal of Nikon gear close at hand, he hasn’t forgotten his first love for nature photography and regularly goes out to photograph Mother Nature.
“For me nature photography is about loving the Aransas Wildlife Refuge and having a fun relaxing day that doesn’t have a specific schedule,” Tomek said. “With sports it’s a lot quicker to plan, do things as you go and know what to do with them right away.”
Photographing sport and nature both come with its own form of satisfaction, Tomek said. But seeing his sports photos printed in the paper is what gives him the most joy.
Between juggling being a photographer and having a job as a student worker, Tomek is also a full-time student at UHV pursuing a degree in history.
“My mom and dad were both very passionate about journalism,” Tomek said. “I grew up with an interest in history because of the way I was raised and I just think it goes really well with photography and journalism.”
For Tomek, good photography is about finding that precise moment in a photograph.
“It’s kind of the highlight of what’s going on, whether it’s someone getting tackled in a football game or a bird that has light that just hits it,” Tomek said.
Duy Vu is a photojournalist for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach him at 361-574-1204.