An Independent School • Grades 5-12

Summer School Photography: Finding a Medium

Students in the summer school’s photography class cover the whole of Photography I in an intense six-week period. “It’s a great time of year – with the long days and the summertime light – to take photographs,” says photography teacher Barry Wong. Learning happens quickly: With four hours a day in class, students can learn new techniques, test them out, and try different approaches as they collaborate with their classmates and Wong, a professional photographer.

Students cover the basics of black and white film photography (including the use of the darkroom) and digital color photography. “A number of students realize that they like art and they are good at photography, even if they never thought of themselves as artists before,” Wong says. Students finish the course by exhibiting pieces from their work in a gallery setting. In person and through an artist’s statement, students share some of what they learned in the classroom. Says Wong, “Many students tell me they come away with a better understanding of how to look at their own work and other art forms.”

My first self portrait. One of the genres of photography that I want to explore more of is portraits. I feel that being able to capture the human spirit in a photograph is something special that only portrait photography can accomplish.

Artist statement and photographs by Luke F. ’18

I’ve always had an appreciation for art, but until I found photography I lacked a medium in which to express my own artistic intentions. I’ve never been spectacular at drawing or painting, my piano skills were lackluster when I still played, and my few attempts at sculpting in pickup games of Cranium resulted in a loss for my team. However, photography was different. The first time I ventured out with my sister’s cheap and badly beaten up DSLR I felt as though I could convey what I wanted. I was immediately hooked. I remember coming home from the camping trip where I first pressed the shutter of that old DSLR, and spending the rest of the night researching beginner tutorials and basic techniques.

Slowly but steadily my skill grew as I delved deeper into photographic techniques and the capabilities of post-processing. I purchased a cheap tripod and started experimenting with shooting landscapes, now my favorite form of photography.

Working with film and in the dark room grew my photography in ways that digital could not. I was used to the immediate satisfaction of seeing my photo on the LCD just moments after I took a picture. I was used to being able to shoot hundreds of pictures at a time, adjusting exposure and recomposing when needed. I was used to adjusting contrast, vibrancy, clarity, and exposure by simply moving a slider on my computer screen. Film forced me to slow down. I had to carefully compose each shot, and trust the light meter of my Dad’s old 35mm Pentax ME to provide accurate exposures. I was limited to only 35 pictures an outing, and when I came back to develop in the darkroom I had to be patient and precise.

The lessons I learned from film carried over to digital, and my photography was greatly improved. I had more patience when composing, I thought more carefully about how light struck my subject, and I now greatly appreciate the storage capacity of an SD card. I will continue to pursue photography as a hobby and a means of expressing my art as long as cameras are being manufactured.