An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Barry Wong, Upper School photography teacher

Above: Barry Wong shares South African student photography, shot on iPads, with Lakeside Advanced Photography students.

This summer, I had the remarkable experience of teaching photography to South African students through Lakeside’s Global Service Learning program. Bright, engaged, and hard-working, the students were a pleasure to work with – much like our Lakeside students. One difference: most of them had never used a camera – except perhaps for taking selfies on their mobile phones.

The challenge: The school had no cameras nor any photo software. In addition, the Wi-Fi connection could be temperamental and intermittent.

The solution: Create a class around older-generation iPads that were being donated to the school. I hadn’t taught a full class based entirely on tablet computers, but in a moment of inspiration realized they could serve as both image capture device and image processing station. Software would be installed in the States to avoid internet connectivity issues.

Working with South African art teacher Hannah Waller, we began the class having students consider photography more seriously and how it might empower them to be storytellers and artists. In one intensive and immersive week, students learned to take pictures, went on shooting field trips around town, and then fine-tuned their images. An end-of-week print and slideshow exhibition was a marvelous celebration of their efforts.

The student photographers – between 14 and 18 years old – had varying assignments: still life, abstract, portrait, and nature. Their work, accompanied by portraits of each photographer, is currently on exhibit in Pigott Family Arts Center through mid-November. Below are select pieces from the exhibit.

Barry Wong was one of six Lakeside teachers and administrators (along with Middle School teachers Yvette Avila and Jamie Monkkonen, Upper School teacher Stephanie Wright, Middle School Director Elaine Christensen and Director of Global Education Charlotte Blessing) who traveled to the Limpopo district in South Africa. The students were taking classes at Ridgeway College (a pre-K through high school private school) as part of the Sumbandila Scholarship Trust, an organization that “selects extraordinary children from a background of extreme poverty” and provides them with educational opportunities.