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View from Behind the Lens: It’s a Wrap! a guest post by Lynette Pitrak

makerspaceMy previous post detailed the first half of View from Behind the Lens, an eight-week advanced photography workshop for middle school and high school students.  In the first few weeks of class, Downers Grove-based instructor Mike Taylor and I worked on teaching the students camera basics, various types of photography shoots, and working with both natural and artificial lighting.  We did some great walking tours through Downers Grove at all times of day, to capture full sunlight, dusk, and night scenes.

field tripMidway through the program, we took an amazing field trip to the Museum of Contemporary Photography to take a docent-led tour.  A graduate student in Columbia College’s photography program showed the View from Behind the Lens students a special collection of work, and facilitated a discussion about choices in shot framing, Photoshopping, and lighting.  Then, the students had half an hour to explore the rest of the museum on their own.  We finished the day with a fun stop to Chicago’s beautiful Millennium Park, so the students could see some amazing outdoor sculptures by artists like Jaume Plensa, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and of course, Anish Kapoor, who is the artist behind Cloud Gate (aka The Bean).

For the last class sessions, we focused on photography editing using Adobe Lightroom software.  The students had a great time playing with the filters, cropping, changing color photographs to black and white, and adjusting file sizes so that they were set to print most cleanly.  

Students then had the opportunity to take the cameras home for one month, in order to shoot on their own.  At any time, they were able to come to the library to access the Lightroom software to edit their photographs.  After this month-long period, each student submitted two photographs to be hung in Downers Grove Public Library’s art gallery.  The beautiful show hung for the entire month of February, and attracted a lot of attention from library visitors!!  The community was incredibly impressed by the professional and creative work done by these teens.

meet the artist receptionFinally, on the last day the show was displayed, we hosted a Meet the Artists event in the library’s gallery.  Around one hundred members of the community came to meet the teen photographers and talk to them about their work.  Over half of the photographs sold too, many being the students’ first sale ever!  It was a truly wonderful experience, and so exciting for Mike and I to see the students’ talent and passion come to life during the final show.

Thank you for giving Downers Grove Public Library the opportunity to share this program with other librarians and educators, and please feel free to get in touch with questions at any time.

Lynette Pitrak is the  Teen Services Coordinator at the Downers Grove Public Library in Downers Grove, Illinois. 

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