Computer science grad becomes photographer
When new College of the Mainland graduate Yeslireth Montilla came to the college she had a degree in computers earned in Mexico and a passion for photography.
While Montilla had worked with computer programming, it didn’t excite her. Inspired by watching a friend photograph, she decided to purchase a digital SLR camera and explore her creative side.
“The moment I got the camera, I thought, ‘This is what I want to do,’” she said.
Wanting to hone her technique, she came to COM to take art classes.
“This is completely opposite from computers,” the Webster resident said. “I tried to develop my artistic side because I was used to rules. (Professor) Mark Greenwalt encouraged me to get away from the rules and be different.”
While focusing on photography, she also took classes in drawing, ceramics and painting.
“All the classes, not just photography, helped me to see the world from a different perspective. I always try to incorporate photography into art,” Montilla said, explaining that in one class, she painted a self-portrait based on images she took of herself. “I enjoy this so much. I can do photography all day long.”
For one project she did work all day long. In professor Kristy Peet’s photography class she learned to enlarge negatives and layer them to create the perfect image without digital photo editing. At home she took photos, and for eight hours she experimented with negatives until the image was just right.
“The great thing about Yesli's work is that her photograph is not complete when she presses the shutter button. She embraces the whole photographic process,” said Peet. “Whether she is working digitally or in the darkroom, her manipulation of the image becomes an important part of the overall meaning.”
One of her paintings, based on her photographs, explored a post-apocalyptic world where human presence has become only a memory.
“Yesli’s paintings continue the development of imagery she explores first through black-and-white photography,” said professor Mark Greenwalt.
Montilla plans to continue to pursue her education at the University of Houston-Downtown and to open a portrait photography business she’ll call Y. Greve Photography. She’s proud of the legacy of higher education she is creating for her children.
“I also came to COM to be an example to my son,” Montilla said. “I always tell him, ‘If I can do it with English as a second language, with highest honors, you can.’”
Meanwhile she is enjoying her newfound creative outlet.
“Why waste your time doing something you don’t even like? You have just one life to play with.”