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Niagara Falls High School senior sees beauty, possible career in photos Natural, man-made landmarks are subjects

If the adage "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is true, Niagara Falls High School senior Bryan Zaczek is definitely a beholder.

The 18-year old student has turned into a photographer who somehow finds beauty in just about everything he sees and translates his vision into photographs. He finds the right angle, the right composition and other intangibles to make his pictures things of beauty.

The proof: Some of his work will be on display for the rest of this month in the Aquarium of Niagara, 701 Whirlpool St.

His shots of the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are unusual and breathtaking. Nine photos will be on display, and a portfolio containing many other shots is ready to browse. They include pictures of the North Grand Island Bridges, the Canadian skyline, the Ontario Butterfly Conservatory and even New York City.

Zaczek has become the public eye for his high school, where he acts as the unofficial, and sometimes official, photographer of record. He can often be found snapping shots at sports, theater and music events and other school activities -- not to mention jobs he performs for teachers and student families and other outside work.

A member of the school entrepreneurial business program, Zaczek turned his fondness for photography into a business last fall. It was a class requirement to start up a business, but Zaczek also is making money, with the guidance of Joseph Bellonte, a teacher on special assignment who helps administer the school business program, and his business teacher, Derek Zimmerman. They got him started by having him come up with a business plan and providing him $100 in seed money for equipment.

Zaczek said he got the idea for the business -- Pictures by Zaczek -- when Zimmerman told him how a man took photos of Niagara Falls High School basketball playoff games last year in Glens Falls, sent the photos here and sold some of them for $700.

"I looked at those pictures and thought they were OK, but I can take better pictures," Zaczek said. "I can do that and make them available to the public and the students and families at my high school."

So he did.

He said he's doing so well, "I've been able to cut back the hours I work as a clerk at Kmart, from five days a week to one day. I'm doing . . . well enough to work on getting a car on the road this summer."

Zaczek said he may make a career out of his hobby.

"I just found out I've been accepted at the Rochester Institute of Technology next year. I'm going to study digital imaging photography. It has the third-best photography school in the nation," he said.

His business started off with him going to sports events, taking photos, displaying them on his laptop computer and often selling them to team members and parents.

The business has since expanded to doing official work for several school organizations, including the yearbook, Bellonte said.

Now Zaczek has gone outside the school to do business, taking photos of things tourists might want as keepsakes.

He will shoot his first paid wedding this month.

Bellonte said he has been so impressed with Zaczek that he hired him to do some work for him. He said he also took some of Zaczek's work and showed it to aquarium officials, who loved it.

Gay B. Molnar, the aquarium's director of development, said she found Zaczek's photos to be so good "we offered him the opportunity to display some of it here." She said there have been no arrangements to sell his offerings on site but added that the subject could be discussed sometime in the future.

"This will give people an opportunity to see this great work," Molnar said. "I think it's wonderful we can do something, and for a student of Bryan's caliber. I love the photographs he's taken. He's got a lot of vision. I think he's going to go very far in the future. I think we've only seen the tip of the iceberg with him and his talent."

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com