Student Work

My Students Shoot Food: The Winning Shot

The Winning Shot: Chocolate fondant, shot by Andrew Boge, Sean Backer, and Jeff Burke.

The Winning Shot: Chocolate fondant, shot by Andrew Boge, Sean Backer, and Jeff Burke. Blank spaces are left in the image to allow for the magazine title, as well as the mailing box and inside teasers.

At Hastings College, we have a special term during January called, well, JTerm (big surprise on the name, right?). It’s a three-week period where students take one course for three hours a day, travel, or do exploratory work; it’s also my favorite time at the college, since I can teach workshop-style photography courses that the regular fall and spring semesters just can’t do.

This year, I was excited to teach a new course, “Photographing Gourmet Food,” and it must be interesting for students, too, since the course was overloaded in terms of enrollment. Clearly, the class was interesting to the local media, too, since over the three-week period, three separate media teams came into the class and did multimedia stories (you can see one of the stories here). My goal, though, was to help students understand the complicated and controversial topic of food photography, all while learning to shoot food like a pro.

The final project was a competitive fictional scenario: Shoot the cover for the February edition of Food & Wine magazine, and hope your group’s shot is good enough to win. I hadn’t anticipated the level of excitement that would generate, but the students were bubbling—and competitive to the extreme—about the chance of winning the shot. I hadn’t anticipated the level of quality I’d get, either—for a group of 18–22-year olds, most of whom had no photo experience, the shots turned out impressive.

And so I give you the winners: Andrew Boge, Sean Backer, and Jeff Burke’s shot of chocolate fondant was meticulously planned, well-styled, and well-shot. It will be printed inside the dummy cover and stay on display in the Gray Center Gallery for 3 months.

The Runners-Up: Marbled chocolate brownies, shot by Carolina Hall, Sarah Johnson, and Elisabeth Mundy.

The Runners-Up: Marbled chocolate brownies, shot by Carolina Hall, Sarah Johnson, and Elisabeth Mundy.

The runners-up were the team of Carolina Hall, Sarah Johnson, and Elisabeth Mundy, who shot marbled chocolate brownies.

I’m proud of my students, so I’d appreciate it if everyone would show them some support: Give ’em a like.

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New Student Work: Chloe Ekberg

Omaha Fashion Week, by Chloe Ekberg Hastings College Junior Photojournalism Student

Omaha Fashion Week, by Chloe Ekberg
Hastings College Junior Photojournalism Student

Chloe Ekberg is one of the finest student photographers with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working. Her talent is exceptional, as is her drive; in fact, the critical difference in this business of professional photography is just that, drive. There are many, many visually acute people, but few take the initiative to train–truly train. That process means high levels of constructive criticism, technical mastery, and repeated visual exercise.

Chloe does just that, and often just for fun. See her photos at her blog.

Her work from the Omaha Fashion Show is stunning at a level that spurred me to call a colleague of mine who works for one of Nebraska’s largest newspapers (Chloe already works for them as a freelancer), and encourage him to start passing her name around as much as possible. That’s not something I do very often; as my students will attest, as well as my colleagues in the business, I’m very hard to please photographically–especially by myself or my students. For example, I don’t allow my students to use any setting except manual. Why? I’m a student of Ansel Adams, who also felt that in order to be a virtuoso (either on the piano or camera), one had to be a technical master. Chloe is well on her way to this level of expertise.

Take a look. You’ll be impressed–especially since she’s not even a senior in college.

New Student Work: Allyson Pelchat

Levitation by Allyson Pelchat

Levitation by Allyson Pelchat

One of the great joys of my life as a teacher is to encounter highly talented students; Allyson Pelchat is one. While she’s very young (a first year), her work is far greater than her years. I’m reminded of the work of Natalie Dybisz (Miss Aniela), one of the rising stars in digitally manipulated photos, who was featured in Digital Photo Pro a few years ago. Take a look at her other work at her blog, Allyson Pelchat.