Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Photography, not for the average Jessica

Thus far in my experience at the Reynolds Institute, I have felt so many things. Today, I truly felt like a student again. As the session on digital photography began, I felt like I was back in my Geometry class, trying to create a mathematical equation from what I can only describe as a triangle. Just the same as in my math class, it seemed that there were students who just “got it,” and students who just didn’t. Once again, I found myself in that group of kids who didn’t get it.

The photographs that Rob Schumacher presented to the group were absolutely stunning. He vividly described the techniques he used for each photograph, the equipment necessary to capture the images, and the Photoshop tools he used to enhance (but not alter) each image. With each shot that crossed the screen, I felt my jaw dropping closer and closer to the floor. His photographs were amazing.

My personal camera is of the point-and-shoot variety, and my photography skills are limited to flattering photos of friends and family that I post on Facebook. I just didn’t get it. However, unlike in Geometry, Schumacher’s lesson did not discourage or dishearten me, it inspired me. I began to reflect on the advice he gave about using the natural light in photo opportunities and posturing your body for a unique angle on the shot, and even applied his tips later in the afternoon as I took photos of Len Downie, Jr.

While I am still the kid who doesn’t get it, I am definitely not the kid who doesn’t care. I can’t wait to get home and research cameras, camera lenses, photo opportunities and perhaps even take a photography class. “I can only learn by making mistakes. That has only been my history,” Schumacher said. Perhaps I have more in common with him than I thought.

Photo Above: Students at the Reynolds Institute applying Schumacher's advice to get on the ground for a great shot.

Jessica Kahlfeldt

Turner High School

Kansas City, Kan.


  1. Jessica, I like your thoughts on what motivates a student to keep trying. We had an exemplary model to aspire to today in Schumacher's portfolio -- do we give our students the same beautiful examples in class? In English, certainly we have them read published literature deemed important, but I know I don't always give enough examples of what students themselves are capable of writing. In Journalism, I'm sometimes always so rushed to put out the paper that I don't take the time to read, dissect, and discuss a great example story, and then let my students model writing after it. I'll keep this in mind in the fall.

    I'm also in the same boat of wanting to know and learn more because I believe I'll have the time and assignments to keep improving. If students don't get the same space to practice (and make mistakes), how can they ever get good at something? I know students are too often taught then assessed immediately, or not given the permission to make mistakes. Let's make journalism a place where the standard of how students learn is changed for the better.

  2. Jessica,

    You are so much more than average!
    Sometimes photography is one of those things you have to have passion for. Maybe you will find yours, but if you don't it is ok!

    Kellie Wagner
    Journalism & Media Academy