Newport High School has gone digital, trading in darkrooms for printers and film for state-of-the-art technology. The AP Digital Photography class has since gone on to become a thriving program that fosters a blend of creativity and technology.
“This year has been wonderful,” said AP Digital Photography instructor Andrew Foti said. “We are in a new building, a new lab and we have new machines. We have state-of-the-art technology and the latest software, new lights and new cameras.”
Enrollment has reflected the change, jumping from 25 students this year to the 60 who are signed up for the coming school year.
“One of the measures of success for students, teachers, and schools is how many students sign up for any one AP program,” Foti said.
Foti implemented the AP Digital Photography class in collaboration with the school’s principal, Bethany Spinler and assistant principal, Horst Momber.
A sampling of photographs from the AP Digital Photography class can be viewed as part of the current Cafe Exhibit at the Bellevue Arts Museum and is appropriately titled, The World through Youthful Lenses. The photographs will be on display through Sept. 29.
Three years ago, Foti decided it was time for a change of pace, quit his job, and stepped into the role of digital photography instructor at Newport.
“I wanted to give back to society and I couldn’t think of anything more important than giving back to young children,” Foti explained. “Art is a wonderful way to appreciate your surroundings and technology is key. The more technical you are the easier it is for you to find a job. I wanted to help children connect to art and be hirable in the future.”
Foti approached the Bellevue Arts Museum’s Education Curator, Patrick McMahon, about the concept of showcasing the students’ work. McMahon oversees the education programs at the museum including the docent program, adult education, kid and student programs, community outreach, workshops and lecture series that are held on a regular basis. After viewing several students’ photographs, McMahon worked with Foti to create an exhibit that would highlight local young talent in the community.
“Thematically, we decided to look at it as being an insight into youth photography,” McMahon explained. “Photography is a young field compared to painting, but during a short amount of time it already has sort of re-invented itself,” McMahon said. “We see that the younger people in our society are the ones who really embrace technology, so I thought it was a really good idea to parallel those two ideas – linking the young artists and the younger artistic medium and tying in the newer technology factor.”
For the exhibit, Foti selected 11 of his AP students to showcase their work. The students were given the freedom to select a print of their choice.
These kids are very tech-savvy, Foti noted.
“They learned how to do a powerpoint presentation in the fourth grade. I mean, they knew how to navigate a mouse before they knew how to read. It never surprises me how fast I can show them something and they can keep up with me.”
Neil Baunsgard’s black-and-white photograph of a thundering river at Glacier National Park hangs on the cafe wall, demonstrating some of the layering and compression techniques he learned in class.
“The distinction that I like to make, is that after you learn all the technical aspects of photography, you can change your pictures from being a snapshot to becoming more a work of art,” Baunsgard said, adding, the understanding of that distinction comes with experience and the knowledge that you pick up as you learn the art.
Prior to the exhibit, the museum held a mini reception for the students and their parents as part of the Museum’s First Free Fridays, where the first Friday of every month is free admission from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“We host the receptions because they give the students an opportunity to show their work and get that extra pride element of having their art on display,” McMahon said.
Beginning in February 2009, the Museum’s cafe will feature a new exhibit every month to give more exposure to young artists.
After excelling at the AP Digital Photography class, Kaya Mills, a junior at Newport, hopes to carry on with her new found passion.
“I plan to continue with digital photography, if not as a career then definitely as a hobby,” she said. “I mean, I got a D40 for Christmas. This summer I’ve been going out and taking a lot of pictures and it’s just been so much fun.”
Lindsay Larin can be reached at email@example.com or at 425-453-4602.