Monday, November 29, 2010

MSU Photography Students to Serve the Community

Today I am pleased to have a guest post from one of my former professors in the School of Film & Photography at Montana State University, Alexis Pike. In her post, she talks about something that is close to my heart: community service. She is working with one of her photography classes to host a service-oriented photography event that will be held this Saturday in the photography studio at MSU. This event is being held in conjunction with the Help Portrait movement which was started by photographer Jeremy Cowart.

MSU School of Film & Photography Portrait Project
by Alexis Pike
The photography students enrolled in Advanced Studio Lighting (MTA 342) course at Montana State University will be photographing families from the community who could not otherwise afford this type of opportunity. The event will involve students meeting and greeting families, making them feel at ease in the studio, capturing their image, helping families chose their favorite photograph to have printed, and archiving images to cd for use by the family. Families will receive a free portrait session and F-11 has been extremely generous in offering to donate a 5x7 print (following the event) for each family from their cd of images.

This is an opportunity for my students and myself to work with our community. In my previous teaching position, my classes were involved in various service-learning events. Note the word “service-learning”. The students provide a service (typically to the community) and the students learn from that opportunity; it’s a perfect partnership—everyone involved benefits from the event. In the past, when I’ve pitched the idea of service-learning in classes, many students seem hesitant to participate, probably because they don’t know what to expect. But, I’ve always found that the students involved find it very rewarding on both a personal and professional level. It’s a positive experience; it places students in a real life situation where they learn from the experience and they want to continue to find ways to serve others. Since Montana State University is a land grant institution, I feel it is especially important that students at MSU learn about community outreach. Students need to understand that learning is a life-long process and part of that process is discovering how one can share their “gift” with others.

This week will be full of preparation so we can make sure we are fully prepared when that first family walks into the studio on Saturday. Over the past two weeks the students have been doing a wonderful job in arranging the event. On their own, they’ve contacted various businesses to solicit donations for the event (food, coffee, gift bags for kids). The students' involvement and enthusiasm has been like a snowball rolling down a hill, it’s getting bigger and picking up momentum. We’ve also been working on making sure the information about the event is distributed to families. The Bozeman based organization, Thrive, has been very helpful in passing on the word. Since this is the first time we are holding this event, we are only taking appointments for twenty-five families. My guess is by the end of the day, we will have worked with roughly 100 people. I think it’s important to consider this is an event about “quality” and not “quantity”. We want to make sure that every family who leaves the studio is happy and has had a pleasant experience. When it comes right down to it, the event is just a day in our lives, but the photographs from the event can be something that lasts a lifetime. I believe I speak for my students when I say that the event will provide a service that spotlights the families in front of our cameras, it’s not just for those behind the camera.

  • When: Saturday, December 4th 
  • Time: 10:00am-3:00pm, by appointment only
  • Location: Montana State University, Visual Communications Building-VCB Building, corner of 11th and Grant, Room 211 (Photography Studio). (Parking is free on Saturday.)
  • Contact Information:

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