- Sponsorship -

A Perfect Picture of Learning

Photography Class Moves from Darkroom to Digital

“It is not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” These words from Henry David Thoreau sum up why middle school language arts teacher Steve Duyck wanted to add a photography class at the middle school.

He has been with the district for over two decades and first taught photography skills in a darkroom. But today, guiding students to developing great photos is done not only out in the open classroom, but on individual computers.

The transition from developing film to working on photos digitally fit in perfectly with the district’s one-to-one computer initiative, made possible when voters passed a $58.6 million bond issue in 2016 to upgrade school technology and facilities.

And so with a Chromebook computer in the hands of every middle school student, the first semester of this school year offered Duyck a chance to once again teach photography. The class continues this semester.

“I couldn’t teach this without them,” he said of the newly supplied Chromebooks.

Madison Cantu’s close-up suggests the larger world of nature

For years while teaching at Englishville High School, before it was closed and its programs incorporated into the new high school, photography students learned techniques for taking photos as well as how to develop film in a darkroom.

“The darkroom work slowly transitioned to digital,” Duyck said. “And now there are so many things the photographer can do with his work.”

Seeing Education in Action

The longtime photography enthusiast sees many educational benefits to a photography class.

“Photography teaches students to navigate complex processes,” he said. “Middle school students have a hard time working through complex multi-step processes. This class helps build skills as students develop a workflow process to move their images from the camera to photo editing software to a final, published product.”

The day that the class practiced focus control proved his point.

He led students through several steps, from moving the photo onto the computer and putting it into the software editing program to deciding on a specific size as well as the color and lighting they wanted.

Pacience Benavidex-Cisneros shows off her project

Each student worked with a partner to set up a scene using a variety of “toys,” such as plastic soldiers, miniature vehicles and other small objects. Their task: photograph the scene and create a final photo that would tell a story.

“But do what you want, it is your picture,” Duyck told the class as he explained various filter options.

Learning to examine what one sees and being able to interpret it — that is, “Increasing visual literacy” — is one of the skills students learn. “If you can analyze a picture, you can analyze an idea or a text,” he said.

New Equipment = New Skills

Duyck cited these educational benefits, plus “bringing some fun into the learning day,” in pitching a grant proposal to the Sparta Educational Foundation. The foundation awarded the program $4,200, with which Duyck is purchasing new cameras for classroom use.

Want to check out his class? Just follow the student photographs lining the school hallways leading to their classroom.


New School Year Brings New Stuff

- Sponsorship -
Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and is thrilled to spend some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.


Students reopen fine-dining restaurant six months after closing its doors

GRCC’s The Heritage has reopened to the general public, with culinary students cooking, baking their way toward degrees...

Plotting for a plot

Students’ hand-drawn maps are meant for the safekeeping of memories and to spur ideas for when they write personal narratives...

Outdoor lover, zen seeker, middle-schooler hope-giver

Bill Cataldo is the new K-8 principal for Cedar Springs’ new Red Hawks Online virtual school this year. School News Network took some time to get to know him better in this edition of Meet Your Principal...

The year of learning differently

SNN asked a sampling of students from across the county how it’s going for them so far in a school year of multiple instruction models...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

New VP says ‘It feels like joining a family’

Aaron Romoslawski is the new vice principal of Sparta High School. He takes over for Stacey Rumsey, who was named Sparta High School principal last spring...

Open spaces key to new middle school

The new building is designed for collaborative learning but its unique open spaces can be utilized for increased social distancing demands during the pandemic...

Here come the students; schools try to be ‘prepared for everything’

Area school districts have to be able to switch instruction plans if the pandemic fires up again, and be prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in one of their schools...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU