NCHS students find a focus

Student photographers at NCHS


Dani Ward

Street musician plays for Ward while selling his art

She walks down the streets of Downtown Bloomington, camera dutifully strapped around her neck. It’s a quiet day- but she never misses the opportunity for a picture. Eventually, she stumbles across what just might be the perfect shot. A street musician sits across from her, quietly strumming his ukulele in front of an art gallery, scattered portraits framed behind him so beautifully it almost feels like fate.

“Would you mind if I took a photo?”

Moments like these are why Dani Ward, senior, and many others at NCHS have gotten involved with photography. While on Instagram, it’s easy to come across the accounts of multiple NCHS students that are all dedicated to photography. NCHS offers two photography classes: Photo 1 and Photo 2. Photo 1 deals specifically with film cameras and working with photoshop basics while Photo 2, which requires Photo 1 as a prerequisite, teaches students how craft photos on the digital camera and offers more complicated photoshop projects. Because of these classes and the skills they teach, taught by Mrs. Jennifer Kelly, students often continue the practice outside of class.

According to Kelly, the class is a necessary elective option for high schoolers. “Everyone has photography in them,” Kelly said, “I think that we take that for granted.”

Ward got her start in Kelly’s Photo 1.  “I took Photo 1 and 2. I just walked around with a camera, constantly taking pictures. It’s a great art form that you can take anywhere.”

What she loves the most about photography, however, is “getting to connect to someone. You’re at your most vulnerable when you’re in front of the camera, so just capturing that raw emotion and talking with them is really cool.”

Though not every student photographer came from photography class. Emmalea Brown, junior, began shooting soon after she received a camera as a Christmas gift in 2016. “I watched a lot of people on YouTube who do photography as their living and I thought that was super cool. So I decided to try it out and fell in love,” she remembers.

Brown finds that she can have a creative outlet within photography and makes friends with both clients and other photographers, saying, “It helps me create greater bonds.”

However, she has noticed that it’s easy to hit a wall as a beginning photographer. “Watching others receive more business than I have puts pressure on me. Sometimes I feel like what I am doing and achieving is not good enough to please others around me.” What makes up for the wall is the clients, she says, and her favorite clients happen to be children. “I photographed for Camp 45, which is a children’s summer camp through my church. I got to spend 3 days at Lake Bloomington photographing children playing, and singing– there is something about photographing children being themselves without a care in the world that is beautiful to me. I also photographed the band that was there which was so so fun. They had high energy which made it exciting.”

Mitchell Metivier, junior, doesn’t stick to just pictures. While he does maintain a photography business, he also runs a YouTube account where he posts short films. One of his most recent films, titled “Moonlight” and starring other NCHS students, has garnered over 3,000 views. Metivier passion for filmmaking began at just ten years old. “Over the summers I would make little home movies on an old family camera with a bunch of my friends. Over time it grew into a larger hobby–flashforward to today and now it’s my future college major and passion,” he remembers. 

What links the three different photographers is their plans for the future. All three plan to continue the hobby after high school. “I plan on doing it as more of a side-business because the main job is freelance,” Ward admits with Brown sharing her sentiment. Metivier, however, plans to continue his photography and film work as a full-time job.

Photography, on the surface, can seem so simple. Clicking a button and twisting a lens into focus looks like child’s play to the outside world. But to these students, the practice is so much more. Each photographer catches the light in an individual and shows it in a different way. Though they are young, they show a talent that can only grow.

Dani Ward walks through the halls of NCHS, camera still dutifully hanging around her neck. She watches the students pass by her, looking for the next story to discover. She wonders who she will focus her lens on next as she tunes into the snippets of conversation that float around her. She waits, patiently, for the next moment she can ask, “Would you mind if I took a photo?”