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Gold medal photographer shares his story of success

Mike Noga with his gold medal and banner
Mike Noga proudly shows off his gold medal and banner he won at the SkillsUSA California State Championships in San Diego. In June he travels to Kentucky to compete in the national event. Photo by S. Dommer.

SkillsUSA state gold-medalist Mike Noga shares his journey in an exclusing interview.

FHS senior Mike Noga took the gold medal in photography at the SkillsUSA State Championships in San Diego. It took hard work and dedication to get to where he is today.

“Mike winning the Gold Medal is like an athlete in high school winning the state championship in his sport. Most won’t truly realize the significance of this nor what it actually took to earn it,” said Steve Dommer, the photography advisor at FHS.

“I was first introduced freshman year when my brother, Ruvim Noga, started photography. He introduced me to photography and this class [photography],”said Noga.

“I started sophomore year. He [Ruvim] got me introduced and I began to like it…. At first it was just whatever, I just took pictures like everyone else did. I just took pictures for the grade and eventually it got interesting and I started to take pictures because it was fun and not just for the grade,” explained Noga.

Dommer’s Digital Imaging and Yearbook classes have several cameras, video cameras, and lenses that students can check out and experiment with.

Noga aspires to have a career in photography like his brother.

“I want to work in product photography for sure. I’m starting already, wedding photography, portraits, prom, events, and I do plan on doing free-lance work and possibly have my own business one day,” said Noga.

Noga and Dommer plan on attending the SkillsUSA National Championships in Kentucky, June 20-25.

“I haven’t necessarily been to a competition like the regional competition before,” explained Noga. “It was the first competition I’ve ever attended at this size. I wasn’t nervous at all, nor at the state competition, I don’t know why. I was confident that I was going to win at regionals but at state I was a little intimidated by some other students’ work there. I looked at the requirements and what the competition is all about and a lot of stuff on there I know I can do but some stuff like studio lighting I’m going to learn really soon. I’ve learned it before with my brother but not to the full extent.

“I’m actually excited, I’m not really nervous. I don’t know why. I care about the competition but not so much that it stresses me. It’s just for fun.”

Noga and Dommer are both excited and looking forward to the national competition.

“I put my pants on like everybody, one leg at a time. But when my pants are on, my students win gold medals,” quipped Dommer, stealing a line from Saturday Night Live.



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