On spending a great day of photography mentoring, and volunteering in a high school ‘classroom’

Maine wedding photographer Russell Caron, spent a day of photography mentoring at Casco Bay High School in Portland, Maine. Casco Bay High School for Expeditionary Learning is a small high school with exemplary students, staff, and standards. Expeditionary learning gains the students the very most by having them go out into the real world and learning by being there. The entire junior class is embarking soon on an educational adventure full of volunteering, rebuilding homes, and photographing and filming to produce a moving documentary on their project. Self-described as budding artists, activists, and volunteers, this year’s class is heading to Rockaway, New York. This is a community that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and still in the process of rebuilding itself.  (There’s a link below where you can learn more about this worthwhile project).

In addition to the service project, these young people will learn how to tell powerful stories through a documentary production that will live long after their return. This documentary will tell their story and the story of the residents in the area, still trying to return their lives to a state of normalcy.

On Friday, March 27, I was asked by teacher Brooke Teller to come into the classroom with about 20 of the juniors assigned to be the photographers for the project. Their classroom for this day was downtown Portland, and the goal was to do a “dry run” with their teacher and with a subject matter expert. Other subjects include videography, interviewing, and audio recording.

Below are some photos I took of students as they set out to fulfill their photo assignments. We were given the use of the Board Room at Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce on Congress Street. The Chamber proved to be an ideal base for this day of learning and photography mentoring. I can’t express how impressed I was with these students, their engagement in their learning, their creativity, and the images that they took. What a wonderful group!

Photography student with camera

No matter if a student was using a higher-end camera as above or a point-and-shoot, their creative eye was apparent when we reviewed their results after the first outing. Our first practice run was a 45 minute session within a block of Monument Square, looking for portrait opportunities among themselves, as well as shapes, lines, patterns, and colors.

Casco Bay High School students with camerasPhotography students

This is a close-knit group of students. Part of their safety net in their Expeditionary Learning in the real-world is their accountability they have to each other.

Students learning photography

Teacher Brooke Teller (above, right) gets a glimpse of some photographs in-camera before the students returned to download and critique their images.

Photography lessons

I enjoyed showing the students how I like to pose subjects (usually brides) in front of colorful storefronts. All the while providing some technical tips and suggestions for avoiding common posing issues. Sometimes their results (above, right) were cause for great enjoyment!

Students using cameras

A student aptly finds patterns and reflections, above left. Students enjoy experimenting with their camera gear, above right.

Casco Bay High School learning how to document with photography

Back in the Board Room, the students shared their laptops, and attached card readers or camera cords. After downloading their images, they each did a quick edit of their top 3 favorite images. All teams gathered just before lunch, and the students headed out all over downtown and the Old Port for their second assignment. This involved the students finding someone outside of their group to interview and photograph. We enjoyed a quick break for lunch, before the final download and showing.

Learning the art of photographyPhotography mentoring with Casco Bay High School students

Photography mentoring

I loved this composition Caleb showed me on his screen of a portrait of his classmate, above.

It was with great enjoyment I helped critique the work of these students and it is with great anticipation I await seeing their documentary of this visit.

You can learn more about the Junior Journey of Casco Bay High School, and have a chance to join in the crowd funding to help them pay for their trip here. With 91 students and several teachers attending, the costs are high for this week-long journey and any help is appreciated.

This is a great project by an even greater group of students and teachers. Thank you to Brooke Teller for inviting me along!

Maine wedding photographer Russell Caron is available for workshops, group instruction, or one-on-one photography mentoring. Call Russ at (207)233-4050, or email him at russ@wed-pix.com.