Paris High Photography Program, booming student photographers | Lifestyles


Paris High is putting its name on the map with a growing photography program and students excelling nationally – and now nationally. Junior Lindley Loughmiller is the first high school student in Paris to reach national level in the Skills USA competition, and it’s thanks to her hard work and the highly regarded program, led by photography teacher Jennifer Cook.

“When I got here we were at a very basic level to start the photography journey, and now it’s just exploded and, man, it’s exciting,” Cook said of the photography path. commercial.

Students at the Lycée de Paris have taken part in the Skills USA competition in recent years, which test the photographic prowess of students across the state and country. This year, Cook’s student Loughmiller placed first at the state level and will make a name for herself at the nationals.

She said she fell into the program and competitions by accident when selecting courses for her sophomore year.

“After competing the first year and just learning all the stuff, I really loved it, and now I’m in (Cook’s) Photography II class, and I just kept loving him and competing in the (Skills USA Competitions), ”said Loughmiller.

Cook, a professional photographer, is entering his fourth year of teaching. She said that the commercial photography route has gradually grown and is now the second most popular educational route for Parisian students preparing for higher education or working life.

The program combines creativity with practical skills, teaching students not only artistic and portrait photography, but also product photography that they could use in a wide range of careers, such as marketing.

“They get the two best in the world, really,” Cook said.

Not only can students explore their creative side through photography, but Cook said the program incorporates skills such as resume writing, meeting deadlines, and interviewing, which they can use for the rest of their lives. .

“It’s very goal-oriented. They can’t procrastinate, so it teaches them these skills that they’re going to use in everyday life… ”said Cook. “These are definitive life lessons, whether they choose to pursue higher education or choose to enter the workforce, which they will use for the rest of their lives.”

This combination of skills is what sets the Paris High program apart, Cook said.

“I feel like it’s a big deal because we’re the only school that offers what we’re doing in this county,” she said. “So I know a lot of them only offer the basics of photography or the yearbook, but what we do, nobody else does.”

In a year without Covid-19, Cook said she would take her students to the state-level competition in Corpus Christi. This year, however, they had to adapt and compete virtually. The students had to overcome several photography challenges, part of which tested their knowledge of using Adobe Photoshop. Cook said his group worked all day from 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. It was magical to see how dedicated his young students were, Cook said.

“There wasn’t a single part of this day that they struggled. I mean, I just saw these kids excel, work and push hard and it was really cool to watch… ”she said. “It’s pretty exhilarating to see them being able to do all of these things without your help.”

Loughmiller said that while she enjoys the excitement of competition, part of her love for photography comes from the creativity and freedom it offers.

“It’s really just an opportunity to express yourself and I love that there is really no right or wrong, you just take a picture of whatever catches your eye,” he said. she declared.

Cook said that after several years as a teacher, she has been able to watch her students grow and progress to careers and graduate studies that involve photography. But after forming relationships and growing up with her students, she said it was hard to say goodbye after graduation.

“I guess I never expected it to be that hard, you know?” Cook said. “It’s like losing your own child.”

Loughmiller will advance to the national championships in June, where she will test her mastery of her skills against stiff competition. She said that for other young photographers who want to follow in her footsteps, it’s all about perseverance and love for the craft.

“(I was telling them) never give up because sometimes you can just take a picture and instantly say, ‘Well, that’s not good.’ But in reality it’s just the way you see it, and just to always be open-minded and try to look at things from a different perspective, ”she said.

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