Local photographer helps SOTA students soar

Volunteering works in the RCSD.

Just ask professional photographer Ken Riemer, the School of the Art’s Photo Club Mentor. Better yet come by SOTA’s David Silver Gallery–one of the true jewels in the RCSD–to see the current student exhibit, BEGINNINGS. You will not believe the photos are the work of high school students.

In the last two years, Riemer has worked with SOTA students as a Guest Artist and Lecturer and has created new photography for the school website (All pro bono, of course). This year, he learned that due to the absence of digital cameras, there was not going to be a photo component in the Visual Arts program. Donating his time, passion and (his very expensive) camera, Riemer helped form an after school photo workshop culminating in this truly impressive show that runs through October 17th.

What makes this photo club different is that Riemer encourages students to engage with the artistry of photography – making a picture not just taking a picture. The Club does not simply repair images in Photoshop.

Instead, students learn fundamental lighting techniques: how to actively control the exposure, composition, point of view, color temperature of light and the angle of view.  As Riemer says, “The idea was to have the students learn to control each step of the creative process with an emphasis on pre-touch not retouch,” adding,  “All of these images were shot manually without the uses of “AUTO” mode.”

And the results speak for themselves. The pieces look so professionally done that Riemer fully expects some will be sold. (He did tell me he was a little nervous having students use his camera given that his livelihood depended on it, but his devotion outweighed his slight fears. Fortunately, since then SOTA bought a camera and lenses just before summer vacation which is what the students now use.  Riemer is hoping that the sale of prints will fuel the purchase of additional camera bodies and lenses. )

As a mentor, Riemer sees himself not a as master imparting his vast knowledge, but a guide who stays in the background while students learn to craft images they are proud of. Mentors like Riemer—community members willing to lend a hand because they believe in the city schools—are not always easy to come by. And when they are, we should applaud.

If you would like to donate cameras or funds to the photo club as they can always use them, please contact http://www.friendsofsota.org/

For more on Ken Riemer see kenriemer.com/

For more posts on SOTA, see No highly effective teachers at SOTA? Something is not right.

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