Mike Hunziker, teacher of the digital photography class at Key Peninsula Middle School, just can’t say enough about his extraordinary students. As soon as the bell rings for class to start, cameras are snapping, flashes are blinking, and students are putting all their imagination to work.
Hunziker takes little credit for what his student’s produce. “All I do is instruct them on how to use the camera, give them a few pointers, and off they go, producing amazing images,” he said.
One of the most talented students in the digital photography class, Madison LaRose, has taken absolutely phenomenal pictures. Nearly everyone who sees her work is blown away by her eye for design.
“I really love how this class gives you the freedom to express yourself,” LaRose explained. Her friend Jessica Kahler agrees. “There’s a lot of creative independence involved,” Kahler said. Both girls concur they love being with friends and having the ability to relax in this class. Unlike the other classes they have, digital photography doesn’t have super strict rules. The class and the teacher promote a relaxed atmosphere, and Madison and Jessica are free to express their inner selves.
Other students also enjoy the liberty they have. Nick Turner, another gifted photographer, stated, “We learn a lot of skill in taking pictures.” When asked what his favorite part of the class was, he lightheartedly declared, “We get to go outside and enjoy the fresh air!” According to Evan Solandros, this photography class really lets the students tap into their originality and imagination. “You get to learn more about how a camera works and picture-taking techniques,” he said.
Unlike the others, Makenzie Miller’s favorite part of the class is learning about new technology to enhance the photos she takes. Most of the time, she’ll be in front of a computer, fixing up an image using digital imaging software. With technology these days, students can fix up, crop, and amplify the wonder of their photos on the computer. One of her best pieces was of a photograph of fellow student Stacie Etheridge taken in sepia.
Most of the students agreed they really enjoy the freedom this class gives them. “You can express your individuality,” Etheridge said.
Freedom aside, students believe photography is a challenging subject. “You have to try and get your subject to pose in an exact way,” Danielle Andrews said. “It’s really not as easy as it seems.” Still, Hunziker could not be more pleased. He encourages his students to bounce ideas off each other and allows them to be as creative as they can possibly be.
“This is a great avenue for them,” he proudly said. “Some of these photos border on professional work.” When students and staff see the images taken by this class, they are amazed by the shots these aspiring photographers capture within the borders of their viewfinders.
The Gig Harbor Civic Center has agreed to display nearly 100 photographs taken by Hunziker’s talented students including a beautiful silhouette by Riley Embly, a colorful landscape by Dustin Phillips and an array of photographs by Madison LaRose and Krista Kooker. The work of nearly 30 students will be represented. Their workmanship will be displayed in from Dec. 4 through Jan. 26.
“Thanks to Waters Edge Gallery and the Gig Harbor Kiwanis Club, the show will be very professional,” Hunziker said.
Bill Fogarty, at Waters Edge, agreed to do nearly $1,000 worth of mounting and matting for just the cost of materials. “I approached Bill with my plans for the project and he immediately jumped on board enthusiastically,” Hunziker said. “Bill asked the Gig Harbor Kiwanis Club to provide funds for the materials and the KPMS supporters at the GHKC gave a big thumbs up.
“This just would not have come to fruition without the help of Waters Edge Gallery and the Gig Harbor Kiwanis Club. I couldn’t be more thankful of, and impressed by, their incredible support.”
Erica Ma is a Key Peninsula Middle School eighth-grade student.
The exhibit dates are Dec. 4 to Jan. 26. As photography teacher Mike Hunziker says, “These students are truly phenomenal.”