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Quincy Junior-Senior High School students are enrolled in a new career technical education Photo Studio class to learn photography skills and how to run their own business, which they call the QHS PhotoFactory. Seth Hardesty, center right, looks into a camera to see the action of its mirror, studying what it does when it snaps a shot. Photo submitted

Young photographers develop skills, launch QHS PhotoFactory business

“What do we think of this one?” Lisa Kelly, Ph.D., asked the group of students at Quincy Junior-Senior High School (QJSHS). They were gathered around a large computer monitor looking at the results of a recent outdoor photo shoot of their classmates.

“The tree makes a good background,” one student offered. Another said, “I think the composition is good, but maybe the faces are a little under-exposed.”

The critique was going well and Kelly provided more feedback.

“So we like the placement of the people in front of the tree, but the foreground is too dark,” the instructor said. “Can anyone tell me what camera setting we could have changed to get more light on the subjects?”

Hands went up as the class tackled the technical problem with the photo, engaging in a discussion about shutter speed and aperture settings.

These students are enrolled in Photo Studio, a new Career Technical Education (CTE) course offering at Quincy High taught by Kelly, who lists portrait photography among her many interests.

CTE courses are electives at the high school level designed to prepare students for employment in one of many career pathways such as building and construction, business and finance, graphic arts, food service, hospitality and agriculture, to name a few.

Being able to operate a camera is just the beginning of what the Photo Studio class aims to accomplish.

In addition to taking quality photos and studying settings, lighting techniques and the elements of superior composition, the students are learning to design, develop and  implement a viable, student-run photography business that they have named the QHS PhotoFactory.

“The students are building this enterprise from the ground up,” Kelly said, adding that there was a lot of discussion about the “why” of the business.

In their studio class, the young photographers asked themselves what they hoped to accomplish? What values are important to them? How do they want to be seen by the community, both at school, as well as within the larger town and community?

From this conversation, the students were able to craft a mission statement that will shape the future growth of their PhotoFactory business — one that emphasizes excellent service.

“What’s so exciting about teaching this class is how we’re able to teach life and workplace skills alongside the technical skills of photography,” Kelly said with a wide smile that betrayed her infectious enthusiasm for the subject.

Her PhotoFactory CTE students are building those skills, taking on a variety of assignments, including sports team photos and senior portraits, as well as documenting community events and school happenings. They’ve shot the Quincy Chamber of Commerce’s  Safe Trick-or-Treat in October and performances of Dancing with the Stars to benefit the Feather River College Foundation, among others, and the experience is excellent training.

“Yes, students will be able to take beautiful photos,” Kelly said of her apprentices’ accomplishments, “but beyond that, they are learning how to communicate with clients to meet their expectations. They’re learning teamwork, organization, management skills and how to be leaders. They are living what it means to act with integrity and professionalism, to have a great work ethic, to be self-motivated, and how important it is to be flexible to changing environments.”

From booking clients, to keeping a schedule, helping customers feel comfortable throughout the photo shoot and, of course, taking exceptional photos that please their customers, the QJSHS students are learning how to be successful in a service industry.

“Whether these kids go on to a career in photography or not, they are gaining valuable experience and a skill set that will transfer to any job they may hold in the future,” Kelly said.

QHS PhotoFactory Mission Statement

The Quincy Junior-Senior High School PhotoFactory is a student-run enterprise that applies business skills including teamwork and leadership, and incorporates students’ unique strengths.

We use our photography skills and editing services to produce quality photos in an attempt to capture memories using learning opportunities that will later lead to new ideas.

We aim to give our customers, employees, owners and community the best experience that QJSHS PhotoFactory can possibly offer.

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