Capturing Ideas Through Photography

By Matthew Ryan Miramontes – 11th Grade, Cornell High School

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  But when taking a picture, how do you capture the words that you want to say?


Bella photographs plants for her final photo collage

Digital Photography, a one-week course through Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media, helps aspiring photographers to capture photos of the world around them. This year the class ran from August 3-7, which was the perfect amount of time for beginners to learn the basics of photography and start capturing photos in the same week.

In class, the students learned how to expertly adjust white balance and temperature modes to capture perfect pictures.

I spoke with Radayah, an intern who works with the Pittsburgh Center of the Arts, about her interest in improving her photography skills as well as her Photoshop skills.  She explained, “I really always liked photography and appreciated the art. I went to college for Communication and Media, so it was always an idea that was lingering around in my head, but I never had the opportunity. I am just a beginner in photography, and the class has already helped tremendously.”


A photo walk around Shadyside helped students find subjects and backdrops to shoot

When I visited the students, they took a photo walk around Shadyside to capture some photos of Pittsburgh’s architecture. The side streets, alleys, and apartment complexes allowed for many interesting situational shots, from overgrown plants on buildings to puddles left over from rain.

The photos from the photo walk will be used for a final project at the end of the course, in which students are graded on their style and proper use of modes on a camera. The final projects, which consist of twenty-five images in a collage, can be modeled from three different styles.

The first style is a themed series.  For example, some students have created collages using all portraits or all photos of plant life. The second style is a sequence that portrays movement through time, similar to a storybook which has a beginning, middle, and end. The third style is a narrative.  This style is similar to the sequence, but the collage includes descriptions or shows character progression.

Students were shown examples of the different styles by professional artists who use collages to convey their works to the public. Students bounced ideas off of each other to get an idea of which collage style they wanted to use. The most interesting ideas were written on a white board, while time-restraining and unattainable ideas were set aside for other personal projects in the future. One group decided to create a collage of self portraits or “selfies” from people all around Pittsburgh. The finished projects will be on display at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.


Final project ideas

Digital Photography helped beginners to learn and create collages in a way that could astound and attract people of any style.  The mentors helped students understand how a camera works, and the class really helped teens understand just how a picture is worth more than a thousand words.





Matthew Miramontes 1Matthew Ryan Miramontes is an 11th grader in Cornell High School.  He resides in Neville Island.  Matthew writes for his school newspaper and wants to write as a journalist for a major magazine one day.  He is interested in music and movies.

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