Digital photography to be offered next school year

Graphic Design prerequisite to Polly Dierkens’ new course


Photo courtesy of Polly Dierkens

Sophomore Dillon Evans poses for senior Sam Gray during a seventh period photo shoot. The Graphic Design class was practicing portrait techniques and Gray, a yearbook staff member, was assisting and taking photos for the book. Sophomores Maciah Jewell and Andrew Chinchar look on behind them.

A new digital photography class, taught by Polly Dierkens, is being offered for the first time next school year to sophomores, juniors and seniors who have already taken Graphic Design. 

Photography has been taught in Dierkens’ yearbook and graphic design classes, but these only skim the surface of the mechanics of taking pictures.Students in her current classes learn more about the photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop, Indesign and Adobe Illustrator than about photography itself.

Junior Airyman Singh takes a photo during seventh period Graphic Design. Polly Dierkens’ class was outside on an April day practicing portrait photography. (Photo courtesy of Polly Dierkens)

“I have been doing photography for years and can’t wait to dedicate an entire class sharing what I’ve learned,” Dierkens said. 

Dierkens recommends this class to anyone looking for a hands-on, creative course who wants to learn or improve upon their photography. “They have to be willing to work with, talk to and direct others — but I will give them the tools to do so,” she said. 

This will involve learning the language and gaining the knowledge to constructively critique others and their own photography, she added. “They also must be willing to get outside, hike, explore and be in tune with nature and the world around them.” 

Senior Sam Gray has wanted to see a class like this offered at SHS since he was a freshman and had even asked Dierkens about starting a photography club at one point. 

“I would urge students like myself, who have elected to take rigorous class loads and hip tight schedules, to look into it as well,” he said. “I think the creativity that photography offers is a great way to balance the rigor of a difficult academic courseload.” 

Shooting outside of the school near the sign at the front entrance is senior yearbook staff member Ashley Slaughter. The staff was working to come up with a cover photo to go along with the yearbook theme, “History in the Making.” (Photo courtesy of Polly Dierkens)

Dierkens said students taking the class will engage in advanced photo challenges, while also diving deeper into the work of professionals and award-winning photographers, learning how to use phone cameras to the best of their abilities. They will also be able to use the classroom yearbook cameras to understand the settings and then how to use the creative manual mode, understanding the entire camera and its capabilities as a tool she added.

This class intrigued freshman Madison Doran, who took Journalism with Dierkens last semester. 

She said she is looking forward to learning “how to properly use a real camera…how to edit and enhance pictures, and maybe find out if this is something I really enjoy and am passionate about!” 

Doran said she has always been interested in photography. “I think it’s amazing how people can capture such beautiful pictures and be able to show the world. What intrigued me in the class description was that we were going to learn and have some experience with a real camera and be taught how to properly use editing apps like Adobe Lightroom and so on.”  

Junior Stephen Koroly has already taken Dierkens’ graphic design and advanced graphic design classes. “I recommend these classes because they are very informative and Mrs. Dierkens is a very kind and understanding teacher,” he said.  

Lauren Golubski, another junior added “I have always been interested in taking photos of anything that comes around me and Mrs. Dierkens can really help inspire me to think of different photo opportunities!” 

Dierkens has helped students find their love for photography.

“I think photography is very interesting and Mrs Dierkens is a very good photographer,” Koroly said.

Gray agreed. “I really enjoy getting to capture and save special moments which has fostered itself into my hobby of photography.”

Working together on their portrait challenge for second period Graphic Design are senior Clayton Paul and junior Seth Mobley. Their class spent two days walking around the school grounds practicing poses and compositional techniques. (Photo courtesy of Polly Dierkens)