Middle School Moment: Creating artistic images

Written by Elizabeth Ciprus

Yearbook students have an opportunity to explore digital photography and photo enhancements, then show off their work in the annual ARTstravaganza.

The students who make up my yearbook staff are responsible for learning every aspect of the production process. While I do have a couple of junior editors with additional responsibilities, all staffers create layouts, take pictures, edit images and write copy for spreads. With the stress level that naturally comes with the need to exceed high expectations and meet each deadline of the yearbook, each semester I incorporate a photography project where students can explore and build on their photography abilities without inhibitions.

The staff members truly enjoy the opportunity to think outside of the box and create images that they might not typically place in the yearbook. While I try to give as much creative freedom as possible, they are middle school students, and some parameters are always essential.

Picture 1For the first project, students must use one of their own photos and transform it into a single, more spectacular image using Adobe® Photoshop®. For most of the staff members it is their first introduction to Photoshop, but whether they are a novice or a student with previous exposure, their images illustrate creativity and the uniqueness of their approach.

Another photography project challenges them to create an image that best represents a theme or a specific technique, such as family and leading lines. This project is open for them to use Photoshop alone, or a combination of programs, to create their vision.

Picture 3The culmination of the first semester photography project is the opportunity to display their work for viewing. During the month of December, The Villages Charter Middle School puts on its annual ARTstravaganza. This is an exciting evening where all of the school’s art programs come together to showcase hundreds of students’ talents and hard work. Throughout the evening, parents, students and community members are able to view both an art and photography gallery, enjoy Christmas music performed by the school band, and watch performances by the dance classes and theater department.

Staff members attend the art exhibit during the viewing times and answer any questions observers may have about their images or the process of creating them. They enjoy having others take interest in their work, and this event gives them a real-life opportunity to engage in conversations about their technique and style in photography. While they know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, sharing their creative vision with others and hearing how they respond to the photos they created for this project is an exciting and rewarding experience.

Elizabeth Ciprus