Written by Lesa Brand
It does not behoove the modern yearbook adviser to exercise extreme control over the middle school photographer. Granting permission to shoot the scenes as they see them can afford fantastic results. Better still, encouraging artistic license will ensure a yearbook that is thoughtful and exciting for the consumer.
At one time, working with middle schoolers on a yearbook most likely meant working with a group of novices who began at ground zero regarding skills for photography and arrangement. However, with the advent of digital photography, camera phones and even disposable cameras, most students now have at least minimal skills for photography.
Our yearbook staff at Andersen Middle School in Omaha, Neb., works totally in digital photography. Because of this, there is no threat of money wasted on film while students experiment and explore as they stretch the creative muscles into a workable art form. Students can literally shoot hundreds of pictures during a single event without spending a penny. They can practice with different angles and positions. They can move around and try several new things. With a little forethought, they can even employ special arrangements.
Probably one of the best features a middle school student brings to the yearbook group is fearlessness. Lacking much in formal training, the inherently impatient middle school student will not wait for the “perfect” shot, but will instead instantly snap the world he or she sees. They fearlessly take pictures that an adult may miss. Not knowing all the things they are doing wrong, the less-trained
student can invent many things that work well. A middle school staffer can also step into any group or situation and snap pictures that are candid, innovative and artsy.
Allowing students freedom to shoot at will with the digital camera affords them the opportunity to show off the art form without stoic parameters that lead to uninteresting pages. This gutsy method truly expresses the world as they see it. It may require permission from teachers and supervisors, but those who are willing to allow students to explore with the camera offer the best results for the budding photographer.
The photos seen here illustrate that students have an artistic eye and, with little or no editing, can create a visually pleasing arrangement that is different from conventional art. Sprinkling the artistic, edgier photos throughout the yearbook leads to a dynamic annual with much to offer.