Sierra Hopp, like many of her classmates, is looking forward to her final year of high school and senior pictures. However, Hopp is excited to be behind the camera. Hopp, 17, has already launched a photography business and this summer, her first solo art show is on display at Custer County Courthouse Art Gallery.
Hopp’s solo exhibit is on display through July 29, with a meet-the-artist reception planned for June 24. Custer County Courthouse Art Gallery is open during courthouse business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
This exhibit showcases 12 of Hopp’s favorite pieces, all inspired by nature and travels with her family to destinations including Glacier National Park, Hawaii, Costa Rica and several states. One of the photos, titled “Hint of Color,” won first place in the Youth Division and won the Rapid City Journal People’s Choice Award at the Dahl Mountain Photo Exhibition in April.
“(My show is) some of my favorite photos of Montana, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Wisconsin. It’s different photos of my collection I really liked,” Hopp said. “I like being able to capture the memories of my travels and being out in nature and being able to have that forever.”
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“Hint of Color” captured a stunning view that lasted only a few seconds. On the last day of the Hopp family’s trip to Hawaii, they were visiting Waimea Canyon on a rainy day.
“Almost every overlook was covered in a thick fog,” Hopp said. “Finally, we stopped at one of the few clear overlooks, and the view was so breathtaking. As I was setting up for a photo, my dad said, ‘It would be great if we got a rainbow,’ and just then, one appeared. It lasted only for a few seconds, but I had the photo.”
Hopp’s photos will be available to purchase after her solo art show in Custer ends.
Hopp, of Black Hawk, is completing her junior year at Rapid City Stevens High School, where she’s active in track and cross country. She’s also a musician who has played the piano for about 10 years and has played the trumpet since fifth grade.
“I’ve always been artistic, but I really got into it in high school,” said Hopp, who tried pottery and painting classes, sketching and sewing when she was growing up and has painted murals on her bedroom walls.
She also liked taking photos with her parents’ digital camera, and eventually her grandparents gave Hopp a birthday gift of her own digital point-and-shoot camera.
“I started realizing how much I liked photography and I had a talent for it,” Hopp said.
By the time she was about 13, Hopp said she and her mom were making plans for Hopp to start a business, Sierra SD Photography. Hopp said she mostly posts her work on Instagram @sierrasdphotography. Her parents, Ron and Tamie Hopp, helped her purchase a Canon EOS T6 and additional lenses.
Though nature and landscapes were what first captured her attention, Hopp said she started attending nonprofit events and photographing the people there. She discovered she liked photographing people so much that she started taking prom and senior photos of friends and has more senior photo shoots lined up this summer.
She hopes to go to college to study photojournalism, and she hopes eventually to have a career that allows her to continue traveling and taking pictures of her travels. She credits Kim and Roxanne Horkey and Art Expressions in Custer for helping her set up her first solo show and she hopes it will lead to other opportunities to exhibit her work.
M. Claire May contributed to this article.