High school students looking to see if a photography career might be in the (SD) cards are receiving a chance by having their work showcased in an exhibit at the St. Mary’s Library Lexington Park branch titled “Through The Lens.”
Work by the six students, who are currently attending Leonardtown and Great Mills high schools, will be on display at the library through Sunday, Jan. 29. The exhibit opened Dec. 16.
“I thought it was a really good opportunity to hone my photography skills,” said Nick DiBenedetto, a junior at Leonardtown High School. “I wanted to learn more about photography in general and I learned a lot. It was a great program.”
The student-led program featured mentors Taj Reed and Khang Doan from St. Mary’s College of Maryland who developed the course curriculum.
The program, which is under the guidance of St. Mary’s College of Maryland assistant professor of photography Tristan Cai, is also a collaboration with the college and the St. Mary’s Arts Council.
“The SMCM student mentors really took the time to work with all of the high school students to teach them the basics of photography with a focus on narrative photography and series building,” said visiting professor of photography and design Elizabeth Kelly, who is replacing Cai while he’s on sabbatical. “I think all of their efforts resulted in a show that feels extremely accomplished. All of the students involved worked diligently throughout the semester and I think it is evident in their displayed work.”
The exhibit features more than 15 photographs by Jennifer Chavez-Izaguirre, Genesis Cruz-Castillo, Nick DiBenedetto, April Holland, Aaron Herrera-Ruiz and Rolando Herrera-Ruiz.
“I’m not surprised by how good they are,” said St. Mary’s College Community Affairs Liaison Kelsey Bush. “I’m more surprised by what they’re saying.”
Holland’s works include a field of wildflowers, one of DiBenedetto’s photos depicts two men relaxing on a porch, Chavez-Izaguirre captures a busy intersection shot in low speed, Cruz-Castillo captures an intimate party, Rolando Herrera-Ruiz captures brightly-painted homes peeking out from beyond trees along a river while shot a portrait of a young man.
DiBenedetto’s photo is of his grandparents in his backyard, John Roth and Francesco Spadavecchia.
“I thought it was interesting because it was a photo of a generation,” he said. “It was kind of casual. I thought it was interesting.”
The California resident also has a photograph of weeds he took in his backyard; which were actually in the background of the above photo.
“I like symmetry and close-ups,” he said. “I like to capture detail.”
The St. Mary’s College of Maryland websites states that during the program — which began about three years ago — “participants will reflect on their communities and voice their concerns through photography, also known as the photovoice method. They will [also] learn to master the use of professional photography equipment.”
The students were given cameras and equipment and since September have received an hour of instruction each week.
“I learned how to capture something,” said DiBenedetto, who said he traveled through the county and took up to 400 photos, “how to tell a story with photographs. It was a good experience and taught me a lot.”