Laura Anders • grades 9 -12 • room email@example.com • 206-230-6313courses Digital Photography, Advanced Digital Photography, AP 2-D Art & DesignHello Mercer Island students and families!
I’m Laura Anders, and I've been the Digital Photography and AP 2-D Art and Design teacher at MIHS since 2013. Students can earn either CTE or Fine Arts credit for my classes, and college credit through the PNW College Credit program. No experience or camera required!
Photography has become a life skill. Consider how information is presented in news/social media/brochures/calls to action: people rarely share an idea without an accompanying image. Beyond this, photographs reveal all that's important in our lives: connections to our past, people and places we love, and ultimately serve as a record of our legacy. Photography is an artful language that gives voice to concepts we can’t easily explain, allowing us to communicate a range of human emotions distinctive to this medium.
My classroom is a creative studio with a rich expanse of learners. I have freshmen through seniors, and each of them have a range of experiences and abilities. Students sit at tables so they’re easily able to learn from one another as we move through a variety of technical routines. Camera operation, digital workflow, composition, Adobe Photoshop and Bridge, analyzing and applying visual vocabulary through critique and reflections, and maintaining a professional blog are the foundational techniques/systems they build on through the year.
As a CCR class, I have high professional expectations for students. We’ve talked about the concepts of extreme responsibility and natural consequences as students begin to manage their independent work time. Each project is experiential and project-based, so students are constantly building their 21st century skills including critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, media and technology literacy, flexibility, leadership, productivity, perseverance and social skills.
I encourage you to check us out on Instagram to see the visual skills students learn and demonstrate in unique ways. You can also see student work from our time in quarantine: 6 Word Quarantine Stories and Quarantine Self-Portraits.
My teaching philosophy is based on synergy, the concept defined as “two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable.” By learning from and teaching to the strengths of my students, my classroom becomes a creative workshop where our experiences continuously build upon one another.
Unlike other classes, my students make and maintain an online portfolio of work they can include on college applications to demonstrate growth, creativity, critical thinking, and a range of technical skills. Through projects exploring art, portrait and commercial photography, students learn camera operation, digital workflow, composition techniques, studio lighting, and post-production skills. Students apply the Elements and Principles of Design through class discussions and self-reflections for each project. Working individually and in small groups, students learn leadership skills and time management during independent work time. We also collaborate with our community by designing posters for our school plays, promotional posters for Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, and create imagery for the Seahawks 12th Man social media campaign. You can see a range of projects by checking out student work here, here or here.
Some examples of Digital Photography projects include:
- The Subject to Background Relationship and Photoshop adjustment layers
- Extreme Angles and Photoshop spot color with multiple layers and eraser tool
- Texture and Organic Shapes inspired by Andy Goldsworthy
- Motion: Stop & Show Motion and Panning
- Bokeh and Photoshop type tool
- What is art? inspired by Banksy and Exit Through the Gift Shop
- Macro and Photoshop selection tools
- Studio Lighting and Photoshop healing brush/stamp tool
- Personal Portfolio
Some examples of Advanced Digital Photography projects include:
- Multiple Exposure Portraits and Photoshop blending modes
- Imaginarium and Photoshop brush tools
- Word Images and Photoshop clipping masks
- Album Cover Artwork
- Composite Images and Photoshop selection tools
- Emotion Diptych and abstract composition
- Magic and Fantasy and Photoshop advanced brushes and layers
- Sculptural Self Portrait
- Advanced Personal Portfolio
Some examples of AP 2-D Art & Design projects include:
- Artful Shadows
- Artful Motion
- Sculptural Identity Portrait
- Conceptual Imagery
- Community marketing
- Sustained Investigation portfolio: explore a self-chosen theme and compelling inquiry question through experimentation and guided process
Through projects that build upon a series of fine art and industry skills, students learn, develop and apply:
- Creative thinking: students excel by achieving unique outcomes for each project; unlike other classes where students are expected to formulate the same answer
- Problem solving: failing forward since failure is part of the learning process, leading to resilience
- Safety and community: classroom is a design studio where students share equipment, follow rules and guidelines, and help one another
- Artistic voice: distinct application of creative skills and combination of media
- Professional skills: time management, presentation, high expectations
- Visual vocabulary: students learn and apply artful language from the Elements of Art and Principles of Design
- Hands-on projects: experiential classes
- Critical thinking: photo of the day, peer critique and self-reflection
- Workflow: concept planning, development, creation, presentation, self-evaluation
- Personal Portfolio: series of work investigating a self-chosen topic
- Integrate technology: Adobe Photoshop, WordPress digital portfolio
- Exhibit work: school display, Showcase, MI library and community center
- Compete: PTA Reflections, WA State High School Photography Competition, MIVAL Scholarship, National Art Education Association Youth Art Month, MI Summer Celebration
A bit about me: I received my Masters in Teaching from Seattle University in 2012, and I have a B.A. in Journalism/Advertising. I've been working in the photography industry since 2000, and have had my own photo business since 2003. I've been blessed with photographing over 200 weddings, more than 300 families, the Seahawks and Sounders (I did all the marketing shots for the Sounders inaugural year (shout out to Kasey Keller!)), marketing for WA State Tourism, and various musicians for KEXP. Before I started my own business I assisted fine art, fashion, commercial, product, portrait, and wedding photographers for three years, giving me a wealth of experiences before starting my own company. Beyond my commercial work, my personal work has been included in over 20 group shows, and a solo show in 8 venues. Most recently, one of my photographs was included in a national show for art educators through NAEA.
Since 2005 I have been involved with Youth in Focus, a Seattle-based organization that offers free darkroom and digital classes to teens. Because of my incredible experience working with these students, I decided to pursue teaching so I could work with teens full time. I highly recommend this program for additional photo classes for your kids!
There are many ways for you to you be involved with your kids through photography. Ask them to teach you about composition and creating dynamic images by incorporating the Elements of Art. Teaching is the highest form of understanding, so you should be impressed when they can show you their skills! You could also plan a photo session as a family, document a life event, or capture your day by taking an interesting picture every hour. And ask to see their blog!
Watching a documentary is a fun way to learn about working artists.
- Finding Vivian Maier
- Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens
- Pictures from a Revolution
- Under an Arctic Sky (I've asked Chris Burkard to be a guest speaker at our school!)
- Born Into Brothels
- The Way I See It
- Visual Acoustics
- Chasing Ice
- National Geographic Search for the Afghan Girl
- The Salt of the Earth
- Don't Blink: Rober Frank
- War Photographer
- Manufactured Landscapes
- The Mexican Suitcase
- Rivers and Tides
- Bill Cunningham New York
You can also go to an art gallery or museum and talk about the work you see. Below is a list of some of my favorite local museums:
- Frye Art Museum (free)
- Seattle Art Museum ($11 with school ID)
- Photographic Center Northwest (free)
- Henry Art Gallery (free with school ID)
- Western Bridge (free)
- Rare Medium (free)
I love connecting with students, families, local businesses and community members. If you have ideas or wish to be involved with my class you can contact me via email.
I look forward to sharing the results of our class synergy ~