Portfolio students raise money to host famous photographers

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Graphic by Michaela Durner

By Courtney Cooper

While some students are raising money for sports teams or organizations, photo portfolio students have been working to get two professional photographers to teach their class.

At the beginning of every semester, photography teacher Angelia Perkins assigns students to research their favorite photographers. Many students, like junior Kearston Mohney, have shown interest in the work of photographers Alex Stoddard and Brian Oldham.

“We were looking on Flickr and a lot of the people in the class knew them,” Mohney said. “Ms. Perkins knew them before any of us did, so it was kind of a unanimous decision.”

After getting into contact through email with Stoddard and Oldham, the class agreed to start fundraising to bring them to Kansas.

“[The] students have got a lot of interesting work already,” Stoddard said. “I love that some of them are already addressing deep concepts and are developing their own styles. Brian and I look forward to hearing how the fundraising goes over.”

Perkins believes having individuals who are closer to the age of her students will be a benefit.

“All of them had started all of these images. A lot of them were created when they were in high school, when they were 17 and at a younger age. It automatically made a connection to the students,” Perkins said. “They’re like, ‘This isn’t some Ansel Adams somewhere that’s 100 years old or dead. These are actually people who are the same age and going through some of the same things that we are.’”

While the photographers are here, students like junior Alice Kelsey will get two view points.

“The two people that are coming are very different photographers,” Kelsey said. “One of them is more of a commercial photographer and the other is still going to college to make his own business. There are two different sides of the photography world represented.”

Many of the students see this as an opportunity to consult someone in their creative field of interest and get advice on their art.

“One of the photographers goes to an art school and the other one doesn’t, so I’d get two different perspectives, and that’d help me with my future decisions,” Mohney said. “I would like them to critique my work and make some suggestions and just to hear about their experiences with photography.”

The students have been selling their own photographs, hosting bake sales and organizing garage sales to raise their $1,000 goal. The class currently has raised enough money to pay for some expenses, but still has more to raise. It hasn’t been easy.

“Everyone has fundraisers going on from softball to basketball, so everybody is hitting up the same individuals,” Perkins said. “Everybody’s going to teachers saying do you want to buy this card or do you want to buy this picture. I think everybody is trying to compete a little bit for the same funds, so that makes it a little difficult.”

However, the students have benefited from the photographers’ presence beyond collaboration and advice.

“I think learning from them and having them talk to them about how would you motivate yourself, how do you get yourself to just go out and shoot pictures when you don’t feel like it will be really good,” Perkins said.

The students aren’t the only ones who will benefit from this experience.

“[Perkins’] passion and dedication to her students and their artistic growth is wonderful and refreshing,” Oldham said. “We’ve both been wanting to start teaching others and sharing inspiration for some time now, so this seems like a perfect opportunity. I think that Alex’s and my different experiences with school could be insightful to your students in regards to which path they choose to take.”

Even though the students have some more fundraising to do, Perkins feels like this is a lesson she wants her students to learn.

“You can have a goal and set that goal for yourself and find a way to do it and problem solve, which is exactly what art is all about,” Perkins said.