Frieze Frame

A digital photography project gets high school students to explore their hometown architecture.


PHOTO © 2004 MARIE GRUNBECK
This spiral staircase was photographed from the balcony of the Holliston, Mass. First Congregational Church.

In the fall of 2004, high school students equipped with brand new Nikon digital cameras roamed the streets of suburban Holliston, Massachusetts, snapping pictures of town buildings and historic houses. The project, funded by a $30,000 No Child Left Behind Enhancing Education Through Technology grant, paired Holliston High computer imaging students with local photographer Lynne Damianos as part of an exploration of digital photography and civic architecture.

Before the students hit the streets, Damianos helped them get comfortable with the technical aspects of using digital cameras. She taught them about concepts of quality photography and architectural history, and encouraged them not to focus on an entire building but to capture an unusual detail sufficient enough to give a sense of the architectural style. A local architect visited the class, and with the help of a model colonial house, demonstrated how light affects architectural details at different times of the day. After the photo shoot, students used class time to sort, select, and manipulate photographs using Adobe Photoshop.

Throughout the nine-week term, students participated in the entire production process. Assessment consisted of a weekly journal in which students reflected upon their work, as well as a final review of the photographs. At the end of the school year, the class held a photo exhibit and organized a Web site. Hand-bound books of photographs the students chose were distributed to building owners. A signed book sold at the PTSA Auction for $500.

Though the year had its challenges, it also had many rewards. The main goal of integrating technology into the art curriculum was accomplished, prompting school leaders to establish a permanent digital photography curriculum. The project also helped establish an important connection between the school and community. Next steps include sharing the exhibit with several town locations and finding a permanent home for it. Best of all, the students left a proud legacy of the work they accomplished last year.

Lisa Bynoe is in her fourth year as a visual arts teacher at Holliston High School.

Dollars and Cents

Where did the grant money go?

The $30,000 NCLB technology initiative grant was divided between Holliston High School and neighboring Framingham High School. Each school purchased 15 Nikon Coolpix digital cameras; 3 Epson 2200 color inkjet printers; color monitor calibrator software; Epson high-quality paper and ink; card readers; bookbinding materials; frames; and mats. The amount budgeted for the artist-in-residence was $6,300. For more information about NCLB grants, visit www.nclb.gov.

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