Arlington Heights middle school students explore photography
The art of photography is being passed on to a new generation in Arlington Heights where some students at South Middle School are learning how to express themselves through photos.
Special education teacher Gillian Falknor sponsors the school's fledgling photography club, which currently has around 10 members.
"I love photography and I love the kids," she said. "It's a really nice way to connect."
The students meet once a week to review photos, watch tutorial videos and spend time looking for subjects to photograph at school.
Falknor gives them a subject to photograph each week so they can focus on techniques such as lighting, textures, reflection or movement.
But above all else, she said, the club provides kids with a chance to express themselves in a new way.
"It's actually really cool to take pictures each week," said Ursula Johlie, a seventh-grader who co-founded the club this school year. "You get freedom, but boundaries, too."
Ursula said photography helps her see things she didn't see before.
"When you walk into a room, you're searching for every single detail," she said. "You're looking and focusing on the little things."
The club has six point-and-shoot cameras available, but students usually use their phones to take their photos.
Seventh-grader Lucia Sanchez-Scriven said she likes experimenting with different filters.
"Enhancing the colors or making it black and white -- those are my favorites," she said.
Falknor has started entering the students' photos in the Daily Herald's weekly photo contest to celebrate their work and inspire them.
"I think it is vital to tie what we are doing in school to the real world," she said. "I think that presenting their work to the public increases student engagement and expectations for themselves."
Falknor said she wants students to take pride in what they are doing.
"I'm so proud of my students," she said, "and so I welcome any opportunity to show them off to the larger community."