An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Barry Wong, visual arts teacher

As a photography teacher, the visual arts faculty show is a not only a chance to model the process of exhibition, but an opportunity to elaborate on the creative process that happens behind the camera. My part of the exhibit, "A Photographic Journey,” showcases my international work and shows how I use my camera as an instrument for observation, understanding, and connection.

Photography can provide an avenue to bridge cultures, to illuminate, and to inform. The best documentary photography strives to be truthful - capturing authentic and storytelling moments. As part of helping students understand that, each of my prints is accompanied by signage highlighting how access, timing, composition and observation can result in engaging and powerful photographs. For example, a picture of Japanese “salarymen” heading home on the Tokyo subway is paired with information about how I used a small, discrete rangefinder camera loaded with high-speed film to get the shot. My hope is that this will help students be more thoughtful and intentional when they are behind the camera.

In my intermediate and advanced photography classes, I take students through the steps of staging an exhibit: choosing a theme, selecting images, printing, matting and hanging the show, publicity, creating signage and writing a compelling artist statement. Starting the year by modeling these actions begins the conversation in a way that feels accessible and empowering as students begin thinking about exhibiting their own work in group and solo shows.

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