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Holladay Journal

Holladay artist’s global exposure shapes worldview through the lens of a camera

Jun 04, 2024 10:43AM ● By Collette Hayes

Laszlo Otis-Pasternak enjoys capturing wildlife moments through the lens of his camera. (Photo credit Laszlo Otis-Pasternak)

From photographing regal lions in Kenya to gentle elephants near Kruger National Park in South Africa, Skyline High School student Laszlo Otis-Pasternak captures wildlife moments through the lens of his camera, each frame encapsulating the beauty and vulnerability of the natural world. 

“I believe my photos can play a part in raising awareness of nature’s challenges,” Otis-Pasternak said. “The thought that my photography could contribute to wildlife conservation in some way is an awesome feeling.”

Recognized for his captivating wildlife photography, Otis-Pasternak has been selected by the Holladay Arts Council as the June 2024 Artist of the Month, an acknowledgment of his talent and artistic creativity in photography.

Originally from Florida, Otis-Pasternak's photography journey was uniquely shaped by his upbringing. His parents' international careers, his father as an international school superintendent, and his mother in global economic development, led the family to live on five continents. This diverse upbringing not only shaped his worldview but also offered him opportunities to capture the beauty of wildlife in photos across countries such as South Korea, Ghana, Bolivia, Germany, and various parts of the United States, a journey that continues to captivate and intrigue him. 

“When traveling, I always have taken wildlife photos,” Otis-Pasternak said. “I became serious about photography when I was in Kenya in 2022. That’s the first time I began experimenting with photography as an art form.” 

Otis-Pasternak has been interested in nature and conservation efforts for many years. In the summer of 2023, he had the opportunity to complete an eight-week internship in South Africa at a volunteer camp outside of Kruger National Park. During the week, he worked on conservation projects, such as removing invasive plants, rusty barbed wire and snare traps. Two days a week, he went on safari to study the artistic craft of photography. 

“When I was 16, I attended a volunteer camp in South Africa,” Otis-Pasternak said. “While on safari, I learned to shoot wildlife photography with my camera in hand and three different lenses. The most rewarding part of photography is the experience of seeing those animals in the wild and capturing the moment. I’ll take the photo and then put my camera down and sit for a few minutes, appreciating the fact that I’m there with these huge elephants walking right next to the car—open roof, open windows. Experiences like this are the most enjoyable part of photography for me.”

National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen, known for his conservation photography, inspires Otis-Pasternak to follow and faithfully adhere to Nicklen’s 20/60/20 photography rule when shooting photos: spend the first 20% of your time getting the safe shots, spend the next 60% pushing yourself to take shots that stretch your technique, and the last 20% trying for that “once-in-a-lifetime” shot. 

“I follow a lot of photographers and videographers on Instagram,” Otis-Pasternak said. “I study their styles, and occasionally, I reach out to them. They respond with helpful tips and opportunities they think will be of benefit.”  

Looking toward the future, recently, Otis-Pasternak returned from a college tour trip back East.

“After graduation, I plan to attend college,” Otis-Pasternak said. “I particularly enjoyed touring Columbia University this spring. As a student at Columbia, I could customize my major, which would include psychology and photography. Recently, another opportunity presented itself: to attend a volunteer camp in South Africa as a photography assistant. It is tempting to defer registering for college classes for a year to return to South Africa and be paid for doing what I love.”

Utah’s wildlife and diverse landscape inspire Otis-Pasternak’s photo shoots, which primarily take place the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset. To photographers, this time of day is known as the golden hour—a time to capture stunning photos.

“My favorite time of day to photograph is during the golden hour because the light is less harsh right after sunrise and right before sunset. This is because the sun’s rays have farther to travel when they are low on the horizon, providing a soft, diffused light,” Otis-Pasternak said. 

Otis-Pasternak’s debut photography exhibit will be on display at Holladay City Hall through June.

If you would like more information about Laszlo Otis-Pasternak photography, visit:

To nominate a Holladay resident for Artist of the Month, visit