Do you ever have an idea about something but don’t know exactly where it will lead? And then once you follow your nose and chase down the idea, it turns into something so much better than you ever expected? I LOVE it when this happens! Don’t you?
Well, the Northern Arizona Photography Students “Guest Blogger” Project I am proudly kicking off today is a perfect example of this. Allow me to explain…
Last October, I had the privilege of working with Arizona Highways Photography Workshops (AHPW) volunteer extraordinaire, Amy Horn (www.horndesigns.com), during a special photography workshop at the Desert Botanical Garden. Amy and I work together frequently on various AHPW, but it had been some time since we had chatted about the exciting things going on in our lives.
As Amy, who is also a photography instructor at the Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, caught me up on her recent activities, I was so impressed to learn about how her students’ recently offered photographic support to the Komen Foundation as a part of her NAU classes. She actively sought out the opportunity to provide her students with as much real world experience to put their school studies to practical use.
This got me thinking back to my time at the University of Michigan Business School, where we worked with real companies in the community, and I remember just how much I enjoyed those experiences. I truly feel like those projects helped get me to where I am at today. And so it got me thinking some more…
As you know, giving back and helping the photographic community is very important to me. So is the endless pursuit of continuous improvement, not just for myself as an artist, but my entire community…so…
I sent Amy an email a few days after the workshop, offering a few ideas of how either my CMS Photography or my Analemma Press publishing businesses could help provide hands-on experiences for her students. I didn’t have a clue if the ideas were something Amy – and her students – would be interested, but I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without trying.
After receiving an enthusiastic response and talking with Amy about possible partnering opportunities, we agreed to me presenting a 30-minute presentation to her Intermediate Photography (PHO285) classes, where we would introduce the “Guest Blogger: Behind the Image” assignment.
On March 7, the students received the task of “selecting a photo from this semester (can be from any class or one you already turned in) that has a story. The story should be about how and why you took this image.” Upon completion, each student’s “Behind the Image” story and photo would appear on my blog as a “Guest Blogger” post during late April and early May.
Specifically, each student was asked to write a blog for posting about:
“Why: What inspired you to create this image? What were you trying to “say” with it – what’s the visual message you wish to communicate? Adding in the thought process from a photographic perspective would also be helpful (e.g. “I used this filter because I wanted this effect.”)
How: As part of your story, you will share the technical information for the image, specifically camera brand/model, focal length lens used, ISO speed setting, aperture, shutter speed, any filters, and any special post-‐processing techniques.”
In addition, we asked the students to write in active – not passive voice – and stay within a word count of 400-800 words. Finally, we requested a 100-word bio at the end of their blog entry.
The students were not required to submit nature or outdoor-related images, as their interests varied greatly, and I feel strongly that we, as an audience, can improve our own work by reviewing and evaluating photography outside of our preferred domain.
From the assignment, we received 35 blog entries. Starting this afternoon and over the next few weeks, in no particular order, these 35 NAU Intermediate Photography students will share their personal expression with public audience via this blog – some blogging for the first time! I hope you will find, as I have, much inspiration from these students and their work!
I also invite you to participate in this educational project by reading their insights and providing your comments on their stories and photos. Help make a difference in these students’ lives! They could benefit tremendously from your encouragement, unique perspectives, and constructive feedback! So not only do we as an audience get to enjoy and learn from their insights, but they also get the opportunity to hear what you think as well! Everyone wins!
I LOVE it when this happens!