Most of the time that we spend in school is not by choice and we certainly don’t always get to choose the schools that we go to. I went through the public school system for nearly my entire life, up until my graduate program to be specific. For the majority of my time in high school, I was under the impression that school was just that: School. This particular story changed my mind about the idea of school before college and what education can be.
This editorial piece in ALIVE Magazine covers a few of the schools in Saint Louis that are really engaged in the idea that primary and secondary education doesn’t have to be so short-sighted. The programs and the teachers seem to be absolutely committed to the students’ understanding and growth. Several times during these shoots and while talking with these teachers, founders, presidents and students, I wished (crazy as it sounds) that I could go back to high school.
Innovative Schools Saint Louis | ALIVE Magazine
With such a diverse group of individuals to photograph with equally diverse environments, I feel that the final product ends up showing what is truly meant as the purpose of the story; there are many people in the community and the educational system that are trying to make it better for everyone. It was a blast to be able to see innovation in a sector that so many, understandably so, feel has reached a point of no return and that the traditional educational model is doomed.
On a purely photographic note, the environments were exciting and all around challenging. From a recently renovated theater at the top of the post, to a building that previously housed a bank with vault doors still intact, and even a classroom in which teenagers learn to become paramedics and firefighters. It would have been a crash course for any photographer practicing environmental portraiture. There are certain shoots where the art direction is just so key and this was certainly one of them. The art direction from Kelly and Amanda at ALIVE really make it possible to achieve a cohesive feeling through such a diverse group of environments.
On a technical note, all of these images were created using the Nikon 28mm 1.8, a lens I had seldom used and was basically purchased to make environmental portraits like these. It is a really nice middle ground between a 24 and a 35 that is a lot lighter than either of the 1.4 versions of those particular lenses. Save for a bit of wide-angle correction that has to be made in post, I would say it is one of my favorite lenses.
Please take a look at the clips below as well as the digital issue of the magazine.