A! Magazine for the Arts

Brian Coryell shoots during a practice event at Bristol Motor Speedway (Photo Earl Neikirk/Bristol Herald Courier). See Coryell's photography/art at end of story.

Brian Coryell shoots during a practice event at Bristol Motor Speedway (Photo Earl Neikirk/Bristol Herald Courier). See Coryell's photography/art at end of story.

VI Student a Photography 'Workhorse'

April 6, 2010

*** Reprinted by permission from the Virginia Intermont College alumni magazine, Winter 2010. ***

Brian Coryell won the Marjorie De Friece Scholarship in 2009, the coveted full-tuition award for an upperclassman studying the visual arts.

The purity and simplicity of crayons inspired his winning entry, a series of photographs titled, "What is Your Color" (seen below). And pure and simple, they demonstrate Brian's incredibly unique talent and work ethic.

"Each crayon used in some way complements the action from a juxtaposed standpoint," he says of the theme. "And the juxtaposition emphasizes a comparing or contrasting idea."

You might say Brian was predisposed to find a passion for photography. His father had been a photographer's mate in the U.S. Navy.

"I remember how fascinated I was when he showed me all the photographs he took," while at sea and flying in a Naval squadron, Brian says of his father. After retiring from the Navy and when Brian got old enough to handle the responsibility, his father allowed him to borrow a camera. From that moment, Brian was hooked.

He found our excellent photography and digital imaging program at the recommendation of Tim Axley, a high school photo teacher and mentor, in Virginia Beach, Va.

During his time at VI, Brian has built a reputation as a workhorse, devoting long and intense hours to improve his talent and résumé.

"I photograph and work on images every day," he says. "Even starting out as a freshman, I spent five days of the week in the darkroom," with as many as 10 hours each day devoted to photography. He says he would not do anything else or be anywhere else, because of our dedicated faculty, and course and workshop experiences, ranging from NASCAR's hottest ticket – Bristol Motor Speedway - to some of the best landscape and scenery in the world.

As early as his freshman year, Brian was assigned to photograph at the speedway. Under a unique agreement with its management, VI provides student photographers to capture the fan experience. BMS gains advertising photography, and our students gain the experience of a lifetime.

"Even if you're not a race fan, the excitement is contagious," Brian says of NASCAR.

He has also benefitted from the opportunity to travel for special courses and workshops to North Carolina's Outer Banks and the Arizona desert. Before the chance to see and photograph in Arizona, for Brian, Nashville, Tenn., had been the closest he had been to the western U.S.

"It was amazing," he says of the experience. And the workhorse in him came out. "I examined the traditions of the western landscape, planned an itinerary for the Arizona segment, took photographs and produced a portfolio of photographs for exhibition."

Brian says he is motivated by the thrill of a good action photograph and the fun of interacting with people whose personalities or unique qualities he is trying to capture. He is also inspired by the wonderful sense of community and dedication to excellence in our photography and digital imaging department.

"We're like one big family," he says.

Brian plans to become a professional photojournalist and to carry with him those qualities unique to VI. He also carries with him fond memories of the excitement and pride of winning one of VI's most prestigious scholarships.

About the Scholarship: Named in memory of Marjorie Freels De Friece '44, the fund was established by her husband, Frank, and her many friends. The recipient of the award each year is a resident upperclassman majoring in the visual arts. The recipient's tuition, room and board are paid through this generous scholarship.