Saturday, January 30th, 2010
by Jane, Passages Student
I think the Passages Program through Wayfinder Schools is a really great program. It doesn’t just teach you what a normal high school would. You learn real life experiences. I personally grew a lot in this program since I started. I have learned a lot and figured out what I want to do after high school for a career. I think I have become a better person in every way. When I first got pregnant I thought, how I am supposed to finish high school with three years left? and then a friend told me about Wayfinder Schools. If it weren’t for this program I wouldn’t be getting my diploma.
Another thing I like about Passages is the teachers in it. Everyone is so nice and encouraging, especially my teacher. Andréa has done a lot for me. She took me to a lot of school workshops and listened to my excuses. She also did a lot outside of school including taking me to Timothy’s appointments. She did a lot more than what a teacher is expected to do. This is why I love this program.
For my passage I decided to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Program. I picked to do this as a project because I have always wanted to help and give children hope that are sick. I want to become a pediatric nurse, too. Our team goal was to raise 700 dollars and we did it.
I learned that in the future I would organize things better and stay on a stricter schedule. For example, I should have made a list of whom I needed to call when I was canceling the first bake sale. I also learned that I can plan something and follow through with it and have it turn out nice. In the future I might do another fundraiser for children. I also learned how to work with other people on a project. The team that I chose ended up being a good team that helped a lot. One of my teammates had a lot of good ideas but didn’t follow through, so my other team members took over for her. I learned from her that I will always show up or at least call if I am going to miss something, because not following through is frustrating for others. I think this was a good project for me because it showed me I could finish what I started and have it come out well. This project turned out to be rewarding and fun.
Thursday, January 28th, 2010
Plaque presented in honor of Wayfinder Schools Volunteer Greening Committee. These volunteers donated hundreds of hours of their time to help “green” our school last summer. The students and staff are very grateful for the volunteers time and effort.
Last fall at our Annual Open House, Dottie Foote took the opportunity to thank the Volunteer Greening Committee.
Thursday, January 28th, 2010
“When I wrote these questions to Jamie I never thought he was going to answer them back. When Jamie did I was amazed by what a photographer could do. I have made my mind up I want to be a photographer.” – Tiffany
Thank you for your note. I think it’s great that you want to become a photographer. It’s an exciting time for photography. We had four or five years where digital was still in development and the cost was high. Now the prices have come down putting excellent quality cameras within reach from several brands.
With digital being affordable and accessible, there are more people entering photography than ever. The competition is harder than ever but the good news is, photography will always be in demand. A career in photography is within reach. How hard you work at it will determine your success. It’s not easy, but it’s very satisfying work. You can take inspiration from the fact that a woman from Camden, Samantha Appleton, is now the official photographer for Michelle Obama!
On to your questions.
What kind of school do you have to go to?
School can be a great way to learn basic skills and I recommend some classes to learn how to operate cameras, test new gear, learn about lighting equipment and get some of the technical know-how that is necessary to move beyond the equipment so that you can concentrate on the images.
A college degree is not necessary for most parts of the photography business; many young photographers find that an apprenticeship is a better way to learn both the craft and the business of photography. If you are going into a very technical type of photography, like biomedical photography or forensics photography, then I would recommend college. If you want to be a photojournalist or a portrait photographer then I would recommend following the path of apprenticeship.
What do you call a good photo?
What constitutes a good photograph can vary greatly. What you find beautiful I may find ugly. An image can be judged on its technical merits – well exposed, sharp focus, composed well, and those merits are often how we judge nature photography, but even those technical rules are broken in fine art photography and still be considered a good photograph. Does it taste good? You’re a good cook. Does it look good? It’s a good photo. Can you shoot photos under a deadline with an art director standing over your shoulder and a crew of models and make-up artists? You are a professional photographer.
Is this what you always wanted to be? Were you in yearbook in high school?
I knew that I wanted to be a photographer when I took an art class in 9th grade from a teacher named Mr. Prohaska. He taught me the technical skills of photography and inspired me by showing me the work of many great photographers. Mr. Prohaska kept pushing me, challenged me and gave me the confidence that I could succeed with a career in photography. I did work on the yearbook staff but it was the work in the art classes that really hooked me on photography. I had taken every photography class offered at school and since I had completed all my required classes, I convinced the school board to let me create my own photography course with Mr. Prohaska when I was a senior.
If I were taking a photo of my child, what would you suggest I do to get a good photo?
Photographing children is hard because getting them to cooperate is challenging but in some ways it’s easier because they have no preconceived ideas of how they should look. They are completely at ease in front of the camera. Getting a great image of a child means taking a lot of photographs and practicing. What will come with time is looking through the viewfinder and knowing that moment to click the shutter. Anticipating the moment takes time and is one of the things I love so much about photographing people. I don’t believe that some people are photogenic while others are not. I think there is a beautiful image of everyone, you just have to find it.
How long did it take for you to take the good photo?
How long? Like I said earlier, if you take a photograph that someone enjoys, then you can have a good photo. If you photograph your sister and she thinks it makes her look pretty, then it’s a good photo. Getting good photos and making consistently good photos can only come with hard work, time and experience. Within a few years you should feel confident enough to know that you can take a good photo, but it may take twenty years before you think you’ve gotten to a point where you can take a great photo. Only you will know when you’ve achieved that, and it’s not something that anyone else can take away from you if you feel good about the images you are making.
How much money does it take to get started (Camera , school, everything you need)
A good digital camera with interchangeable lenses starts at about $600. You can begin learning with a camera that costs much less. A course at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport can cost $750, but working as an assistant at the Maine Media Workshops costs you $0 and might even pay you something, although I don’t expect that it would pay much. College courses at the Rochester Institute of Technology can cost you between $50,000 and $100,000 for a four year degree. If you decide that college is the best way to go, then you should have a plan to build a career on that expense. I chose the college route to learn photography. I learned from some excellent teachers, school provided many great life experiences and I met friends that I’ve had for twenty years now, but if I were to do it all over again I may have chosen a different path to a career in photography. I have a good friend that went to college for a career in photography and now he runs a successful advertising agency. While he does not work behind the camera, he oversees all the photo shoots and video shoots for television commercials. He’s an excellent photographer but doesn’t get paid to push the shutter. Keep an open mind about the many different careers in photography that don’t include you actually taking the photos. Here are other jobs that may interest you:
– Make-up artist for fashion photography
– Food styling for food photography
– Still image editor
– Photoshop editor
– Film/Video editor
– Multimedia developer
All of these require you to have some photography skills and understand what makes a great image, but not all careers mean you are the one pushing the shutter. If your dream is to be a National Geographic Photographer, then don’t let anything stand in your way, but if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, then keep an open mind about the other jobs that may make you happy.
And to expand on that last sentence, I would say the best thing about being a photographer is that you will love to go to work every day and that’s what makes a great career. I got to travel to far away places, climb mountains, snowshoe across a desert, ride in a glider plane, and sail from Maine to Florida in my career as a photographer and I have loved every minute of it. I now make my living working with photography to create a great magazine and that is just as exciting for me as all the adventures I found while clicking the shutter.
When taking a photo of a waterfall would you take it at sunset or sunrise?
As an outdoor photographer I can tell you that noontime I was rarely out taking photos. The best images come at sunrise and sunset. Generally speaking, you have about an hour after sunrise to get great images before the quality of the light starts to decline. The window of opportunity before sunset is longer. The great light can extend as long as three hours, but the magic light is always within the last thirty minutes before the sunsets and sometimes another fifteen minutes after the sun has dipped below the horizon. If you want to be a nature photographer you better be a morning person because that comes with the territory.
How much money do you get paid per job?
Looking at all the different types of photographers in a general sense, the average day-rate for a professional photographer is about $1,200 + expenses. Magazines pay less, some advertising clients pay more. Some photographers like Annie Leibovitz make considerably more. She might get paid $30,000 per day. Much of how that price is determined is based on your skills as a photographer and how the company will be using the images.
Let’s do some math. You need to advertise your work, discuss the details of the job, negotiate the price, account for the weather if you are an outdoor shooter and finally you get to shoot the photos and get paid. For every day of shooting you’ve got at least three days of preparation. That being the case, the maximum number of days you are actually getting paid is only about 85 in any given year. 85 x $1,200 = $102,000. Subtract out the costs for equipment, paying an assistant, office expenses, marketing expenses and you should be able to take home 1/2 of that. You won’t get rich in this scenario, but you can make a good living. That’s just one look at how a photographer makes money. You could resell images from your archive, sell calendars, postcards, you could offer courses to other photographers. There are many different ways that photographers price their work and how they get paid. If you want to know more I would be happy to expand on the topic at another time.
If you wanted to be a photographer, do you need to be a wedding photographer?
Wedding photography is just one option. Its biggest advantages are it doesn’t require leaving Maine to make a living and it’s fun. You photograph people on one of the happiest days of their life. There are over 10,000 weddings in Maine each year so you can usually find work right in your hometown. If you want to be a fashion photographer you will need to move to New York, Milan Italy or Paris to have the best chance for success and the most available job options (I can count the fashion photographers that I know of in Maine on one hand). If you want to be a National Geographic photographer the chances are good you are going to be on the road much of the year (my friend David McLain travels 150 days of the year as a Nat. Geo shooter). What kind of photography you choose will determine where you need to be to succeed. If you want to live in Maine (it’s a great place to live), then you can be a wedding photographer, or a nature photographer, or a photojournalist.
It’s all where you want to be and what you like to photograph. I did photograph weddings for a few years and they are fun but also a lot of pressure. You have one chance to get it right and no re-shoots. The center of the photography universe in the United States is New York City. I never wanted to live there but you will learn the most and find many photography jobs in the bigger cities around the country. You don’t have to live in NY to be a photographer, but if you think you might like living in a big city, you will find more career options.
I hope my comments were helpful and I wish you all the luck in the world in your pursuit of a photography career. If I can answer any other questions just drop me a note.
All the best,
A directory of many Maine photographers on the web: http://jimdugan.com/maineph.html
Click on any of the photographers names and then on their website and you’ll be able to see samples of their work.
Thursday, January 28th, 2010
In my first year at Wayfinder Schools I have watched students actively respond to the philosophy of “relational education” that our school founders, Dora Lievow and Emanuel Pariser, practiced for 35 years.
I do not believe kids stay in school because they are in love with long division. They stay in school because someone shows them that they care. This is the heart of relational education. The students at Wayfinder Schools are engaged with life and learning in response to healthy relationships with people who care.
Our Teachers and Residential Overnight Counselors are continually listening for the relationship they are forming with the student. This close ‘give and take’ helps the student unlock their natural strengths and gifts.
Individualized learning plans provide a platform for a student to create and re-create learning for themselves, with the guidance of a caring adult. It is crucial that the learning pleases the student- not just the teacher– which in turn fuels ownership and personal responsibility.
The uniqueness each student brings to the learning experience is celebrated and acknowledged – which encourages learning – because students learn best when they are cared for and respected. At Wayfinder Schools, we know that the process of relational learning itself is the product.
Over 35 years ago, in a very grassroots and authentic way, Emanuel and Dora set out to prove that meaningful relationships have the ultimate power to change lives.
The school has grown and shifted in many ways over these years – however this statement has never been more important as we launch our updated website and honor the ironies of modern life. We are witnessing great potential for connection through technology – and at the same time yearning for greater human connection, whether through friends, family, partnerships, community resources, or in reducing the distance between ‘us and them’ globally. Eman and Dora knew this was the greatest need.
The underpinning of the school is that all of life is a classroom and that students will thrive in this classroom – if they are held by people who care. The staff and Board of Wayfinder Schools remain deeply committed to the work of the school – and to the sage wisdom of our founders. -DF
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
by Carrie Braman, Residential Lead Teacher
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this first semester’s teaching is seeing students build confidence in their own leadership. It’s happened in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. By heading to their jobsites every morning, the students are able to see the not-insignificant role they play in the world, and by taking leadership over their own projects in the core subject areas, they are understanding just what initiative can accomplish.
Still, one of the academic projects that made me most proud this semester wasn’t originally part of our planned curriculum. In late September I took three of the students to downtown Rockland to look for jobs, and we happened to park right next to a big purple sign for the local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter. All three expressed interest in the program and asked if we could go inside to get more information. Since it seemed like a healthy curiosity, I said, “Sure, why not?” and we climbed the rickety stairs and introduced ourselves to the surprised staff. What emerged out of this initial meeting was the seed of a partnership between our two programs. The girls loved the idea of being mentors to troubled elementary school students, kids they saw themselves as uniquely qualified to help. Their excitement was contagious. They harangued their peers into attending the BBBS orientation. They filled out request forms and followed up with staff at both organizations. They took it upon themselves to call the BBBS office to arrange follow-up meetings and to discuss a workable schedule, and they convinced us all that a weekly commitment to a younger friend would be beneficial to their education.
In a matter of a few brief weeks, I found myself driving the nervous students to Appleton, where a gymnasium full of eager elementary-schoolers awaited their arrival. This trip has turned into one of the highlights of my week, a Wednesday ritual that the students look forward to.
Friday, January 22nd, 2010
Up Up and Away
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