Elijah Sinclair

Growing up with a father who is an Apostolic Christian pastor, Elijah Sinclair was immersed in religious culture.Movie Fifty Shades Darker (2017)

“I naturally gravitated toward religion and how it affects people,” Mr. Sinclair said.

In high school, he became interested in photography and learned to express culture and religion through images.

Taking a photo-film class at Spencerport High School in Rochester, N.Y., Mr. Sinclair, who was 16 at the time, was assigned a history project about the legendary photographer W. Eugene Smith. Mr. Sinclair said he was inspired by Mr. Smith’s World War II photography and his “Pittsburgh Project,” a photo essay of nearly 17,000 photographs of life in Pittsburgh during the 1950s.

Mr. Sinclair, 20, now wants to capture, organize and edit images in ways that can tell a story.

“I think they’re so powerful and important because they can cause a reaction,” he said.

He enjoys taking pictures that embrace culture and religion, he said, and is working on a multimedia production profiling two young artists who are immersed in both hip-hop culture and Christianity.

He will be entering his senior year at Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall. He was named director of photography for the university’s Sports Zone, a student-run organization of editors, photographers, directors, graphic designers and reporters, to cover college sports. At The New York Times Student Journalism Institute, he wants to cover religious communities and their activities.