OAK HARBOR — Emma Wezeman loves Cheerios — not honey nut, not multi-grain — the original.
Her favorite snack and her talent have propelled her into the national spotlight.
The Oak Harbor High School sophomore caught the attention of corporate heavyweight General Mills after she created a photography web log that features the “Os.”
Wezeman, 15, started an Instagram account called Travels_with_Cheerios in September after a camping trip on Whidbey Island with her cousins. She was chomping on the cereal and goofing around with her camera.
What she produced is serious work.
“I’ve always liked photography,” she said. “I can’t paint to save my life. But this isn’t about you, it’s about nature.”
She places the cereal in unusual places and photographs the results. A Cheerio balanced on the railing of the Deception Pass bridge. Cheerios in the hands of a weeping angel statue. Cheerios devoured by a hungry snail. Cheerios in the bloom of a flower.
She admits to sneaking into her neighbors’ yards to get the right props.
Perhaps her most eye-catching photo is of Cheerios caught in the stream of a water fountain. That photo left her teacher wondering how she snapped the image.
She used the hashtag #cheerios and that caught the attention of Kevin Hunt, who manages social media for Minneapolis-based General Mills.
He first noticed Wezeman’s Instagram account about a month ago. He didn’t realize he was looking at the work of a young teen. He was impressed. So was Team Cheerios, the people behind everything Cheerios.
Everyone was tickled.
“We spotted the account,” he said. “I thought, this is interesting; let’s see where it goes.”
It went to Planet Amazing.
Her photos are oddly beautiful, well composed and sharp. They juxtapose the lush, dark beauty of Whidbey Island with the light, bright cereal “O”.
One of her most jaw-dropping images shows a spider wrapping its many legs around the Cheerio. Is it a hug or a death embrace? She got the shot by throwing the cereal onto the spider’s web and waiting. The spider seemed confused when it crawled down for a taste.
“It didn’t know quite what to do with it,” she said.
The cereal giant is highlighting her work on its website, and so have other media outlets, including a Minneapolis news site.
Wezeman is a student in Jana Jansen’s class at Oak Harbor High School. Jansen serves as yearbook adviser and teaches photography and graphic design.
“She really has a good eye,” Jansen said. “She puts a lot of effort into everything she does.”
Wezeman said she learned about shutter speed and aperture in Jansen’s class and she’s been using a school camera. She aspires to be a historian who uses a camera to photograph what she discovers. National Geographic, take note.
Right now, she loves walking around her neighborhood with the camera on the weekends. It’s an escape from the pressures of school.
Jansen just hopes she signs up for her class next year.
“I’m very proud of her,” she said. “I’m excited and honored to be her teacher.”
General Mills’ Hunt said he plans to send some Cheerios swag Emma’s way.
“Those photos were just phenomenal.”
Debra Vaughn: firstname.lastname@example.org; 360-675-6611, ext. 5075.