A group of fifth- and sixth-graders from Imagine School recently discovered they don't have to own a camera, be in a prestigious locale or have extensive training to take photographs worthy of hanging in a museum.
About 20 students shot photos around their school campus at 1950 First Ave. N that will be part of a photography show titled "Art and Soul: Artist of St. Pete" opening Saturday at the St. Petersburg Museum of History. Their photos will be part of local photographer Patricia Preston Warren's show. It was her idea to teach students at the inner-city charter school about finding and framing shots in their everyday surroundings.
"They took some really incredible pictures," Warren said. "They seemed to get the idea of imagery. What I've got is not just snapshots. These are extremely well thought out photographs."
Before going behind the lens, Warren talked with students about different aspects of photography such as framing, lighting and picking a subject. She showed them slides of photos that illustrated how a shot of a simple image can tell a story beyond what is actually seen.
Imagine School's dean of students, Leah Heffner, continued working with the group. "I told them they can take the little things they see every day and find beauty in them," she said. "They got so excited to see a school bus become a piece of art, or the latch on a gate."
Students borrowed Heffner's simple digital camera and shot pictures around the school. They found the right angles so their subjects stood alone instead of cluttered with other surroundings.
There is very little green, and no water views at Imagine School, but students learned to see beauty in a place that's just part of the city. Several became fascinated with the history and look of Haslam's Book Store across the street.
"I had one student say they always wanted to try photography but they never thought they could," Heffner said, adding that many of the students don't have access to cameras at home. "I told them 'You can take my camera any day if you see something you feel passionate about.' "
The Museum of History's "Art and Soul" exhibit stresses the concept that all artists are historians, constantly recording their own history in their art. All Imagine School teachers and students, grades pre-K through seventh, may see the show at no cost. The museum is at the base of the Pier at 335 Second Ave. NE.
Reach Katherine Snow Smith at (727) 893-8785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.