04 May To Mom, From Class
Mother’s Day, it’s just around the corner, and what better way to tell your mother you love her than surprising her with a photo she can enjoy for years to come. I ventured down to the Rochester elementary school and photographed three 3rd grade classrooms.
Kids are funny, flat-out. It was kind of a harmonious occasion, as I was once on a path to becoming a teacher. As far as college credit goes, I’m about three quarters of classes short of my education degree. I even went through some student teaching experience. I was interested in teaching elementary school, third grade to be more specific. I found that age to be the most fun. You can still have a lot of fun with that age group, they are smart enough to have interesting conversations, maintain wild imaginations, but have not yet hit that “too cool” stage. The questions and topics that pop up with these kids are hilarious. It’s the sweet spot if you ask me.
My college education took a detour towards the IT industry, which is how my bachelors of science degree reads. I often flirt with the idea of going back and finishing my education degree so that down the road I can teach what I enjoy doing most in this life, photography. But for now, I think I’ll just stick to teaching the occasional workshop and taking photos.
For this shoot, I setup a little area in a live classroom, meaning that the class was in-session while I worked individually with the kids. This required that my working area stayed small and unobtrusive as possible. So this wasn’t a room I had the luxury of space and flexibility, yet my goal was to give these photos the “classroom” look. I wanted it to look real, cause I hate the idea of losing out on the opportunity of capturing the classroom environment by tossing up a bland background. Let’s be honest, every school photo is taken with a lame background. Let’s mix it up shall we? I walked into the classroom for the first time, and surveyed the space. What would take up little space yet be cute and convey the classroom feel? And let me just say that I hate the fact that the quintessential representation of a classroom, the chalkboard, is nonexistent is the vast majority of schools now, and that just sucks for a visual professional like myself. Way to suck all the fun out of the room, practicality. So no chalkboard, just a lame whiteboard, what else is something I remember from my school days that is a strong representation of an elementary classroom? Ah yes, the lice-conducive cubbies, classic. The cubbies are in the corner of the room, which plays in my favor for the whole staying-out-of-the-way thing. No need to prop the cubbies with stuff, they were already populated to perfect realism. Toss in a spare desk to use as a no-brainer prop and we had our impromptu setup.
One by one, the kids came over to voluntarily get blinded by my flash. It was pretty funny seeing their surprised reactions to the flash, some actually getting pushed back into the seat as if my light fired off a blast of wind. Thirty minutes later, three classes of kids were sitting on my memory card and I was packing up. Oh, but then came the question and answer portion of the day with the kids, and only questions and statements you’d expect from curious third-grade minds…
How tall are you? What sports do you play? How many photos have you taken? (we turned that one into a math problem for the kids, based off of my average monthly total) You are tall, how tall are you? You’re big. My dad is 6’1″ how tall are you? There was an obsession about my height, like I said, kids are funny, their unfiltered thoughts just flowing (why do we lose this later on in life? Stupid adulthood). The best question I was asked, “why did you want to be a photographer?” Of course this is where I fell short and gave a third-grade response, “cause it’s fun!” I went into detail about all the things I get to see and experience because of my job.
Photos are getting printed today, and being sent home with the kids on Friday. Enjoy all you 3rd grade moms out there!
My setup below, we had to put up some walls to keep the photos from distracting the rest of the class the best we could.