Teen photographer earned a D in class, an A+ from the pros Reisterstown youth sold works to Hollywood star, will shoot shoes in Europe

June 20, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

At 17, Randolph S. Albright already has won several awards for his photography, taken pictures in Europe and Russia, and had two of his creations purchased by a Hollywood celebrity.

Not bad for a guy who received a D in a high school photography class.

"Let's just say I had aesthetic differences with the teacher," said Randy, who recently graduated from Baltimore County's Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson.

Randy, who lives in Reisterstown, was named an outstanding arts student in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. The program, established in 1964, recognizes the nation's most distinguished graduating high school students.

Despite the low grade, which came in his third-quarter report card this year, Randy credits several of his instructors at Carver with helping him develop the talent that made him the only student photographer among the national scholars this year.

Up to 121 students are chosen annually on the basis of academic achievement, and another 20 are selected for academic and artistic success in visuals arts, performing arts or creative writing.

This week, Randy is in Washington, where the national scholars are to meet President Clinton and attend a reception in their honor.

It will not be his first encounter with a celebrity, however, having sold two of his works -- one photographic, one literary -- to actress Sharon Stone.

Randy met Stone this year in Miami after he was named a finalist in the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Recognition and Talent Search. The actress is a member of the organization's artistic advisory board and purchased a poem by Randy and his photo assemblage -- aptly titled "In Stone" -- which shows a girl lying statuelike in a meadow.

Stone gave the photo work to friend Nancy Ellison-Rollnick, a photojournalist and celebrity portraitist who also is on the foundation's board.

Ellison-Rollnick, who has photographed Hilary Rodham Clinton, Boris Yeltsin and actor Jack Nicholson, praised Randy's talent, thirst for knowledge and willingness to experiment with different media.

"I love his work," said Ellison-Rollnick, whose work has appeared in such magazines as Life and Vogue. "He has an amazing awareness of art and photo history. He was very hip to areas of intellectual awareness that many kids in high schools don't have."

In the fall, Randy plans to attend the University of Maryland Baltimore County, which awarded him a $49,000 scholarship from its Artists Scholars Program for students with strong academic achievement majoring in the visual and performing arts.

In addition to his photography and writing, Randy is a graphic artist. He was courted by several art institutes, he said, but UMBC seemed most interested in helping him achieve his potential.

"He is a multitalented young man," said Bobbie Shahpazian, UMBC's assistant director of scholarships. "I suspect he is the type of student that can do anything he puts his mind to, and it's going to be fun watching him grow."

Randy is unsure what he wants to do professionally, but knows he wants to "blur the line between art and commercial photography."

He has interned at an advertising agency and recently made a deal with a shoe company to take photos while he's in Europe this summer for possible inclusion in an ad campaign.

"I see art in everything I do," Randy said. "I never stop creating."

Pub Date: 6/20/96

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