The first annual Smith-Cotton Photography Show took place at Peak Performance last Frday and Saturday.
The public was invited to see the work of over 100 photography students led by art instructor Michael Shukers.
“This is first year for a renewed photography program. We had one 10 or 12 years ago, which was 35 millimeter, and now I’m bringing it back as a digital photography curriculum, eventually heading towards commercial art and graphic design,” said Mr. Shukers on Friday night, Jan. 25, as several photography students scurried to place each piece of art on dark gray panels in preparation for the show. “Bascially anything we can do in Photoshop that is art-related.”
Mr. Shukers has worked tirelessly for the past four year to implement the single-semester program, which has been been wildly popular so far.
“Now that we’re in the new school, we’re settled in, ready to expand the department and curriculum offerings, so it’s an exciting time,” he stated.
“It was just a matter of timing,” Mr. Shukers said of the program. No major resistance, just making everything come together at the right time. We have the right software programs now, the right computers, the right facilities, plenty of digital SLRs that we can use for upper-level classes for teaching higher end photography techniques.”
The idea of the current program is to get students started using cell phone cameras, point-and-shoot cameras, rather inexpensive cameras right now, the photography instructor said. “I would say 98 percent of the artwork in this show was produced by a point-and-shoot, inexpensive camera,” Shukers said.
“I’m teaching composition extremely heavy so they understand that’s one of the most important aspects. That is the eye of the photographer, being able to pick that out,” the art instructor said of his teaching techniques.
Although Mr. Shukers took care of all the matting of the photos this time, he will eventually pass that skill (and duty) on to future photography students as well. “I’ve had lots of help from students helping organize it. But as I get better at it, I’ll be able to turn the reins more over to them, because I want them to have the experience of learning how to set up a show themselves. I will provide guidelines and let them build the show to make sure no major mistakes happen.
The single-semester course is expected to be upgraded to a full-year course by next academic year. “Next year I’ll have advanced students I can then teach. This year, it’s all beginning students,” he said, adding that he expects the size of the photo show to grow by at least 50 percent next year. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.