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Photographing the Future: BHS Photography Classes Continue to Grow in Size and Experience

By Sara Musgrove


“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving.
What you have caught on film is captured forever…
It remembers little things, long after
you have forgotten everything” (Aaron Siskind).


Bluebonnet Heaven - Photo by Isabel Clevenger

Above: “Bluebonnet Heaven” Photo by Isabel Clevenger that
earned an Honorable Mention at the ATPI Fall Conference earlier this year.


Five Brownwood High School students and their photography instructor, Heather Nix attended the Association of Texas Photography Instructors (ATPI) conference on February 22-24, 2019 at the University of Texas at Arlington. Friday consisted of a photo scavenger hunt, portfolio reviews, and general education sessions. Saturday offered hands-on education sessions and personalized presentations by field professionals. Sunday provided keynote speaker Brandon Thibodeaux an opportunity to encourage the 200-250 students and their instructors an inside peek at the world of professional photography and journalism. An awards ceremony followed, where BHS Junior Isabel Clevenger, one of the students who attended the conference and had submitted a project to be judged, earned an honorable mention. “For a new program in Brownwood, Texas, to get an honorable mention the first time out, was pretty cool,” Nix said. “I was really proud of Isabel for that. I’m excited about the images that are coming out of the program.”


Students at Brownwood High School are enjoying the second year of a program which has doubled in size since its inception. Thirty students are currently enrolled, and Nix hopes that more of them will be able to attend the conference next year. “We will definitely go,” Nix said. “The February ATPI is the winter conference, and both teachers and students can submit projects for awards.” Nix plans on making next year’s event even bigger, based on their positive experience. The students who attended with Nix received a valuable and tactical education at the conference. “When we got there on Friday, we did this cool scavenger hunt,” Isabel Clevenger said. “They gave us a list of pictures to take, so we got in our group and went all around the UT campus and took pictures. It was a competition. On Saturday, we chose three different lectures. I went to landscape photography, flash photography, and commercial and advertising photography. After lunch we had previously signed up for some hands-on classes, so I went to studio portraiture and environmental portraiture.” In addition to winning the honorable mention, Clevenger enjoyed the practicality of the conference. “My favorite class was landscape photography. I’m more of a portrait photographer—I like to photograph people—but when I saw one of the class options was landscape photography, I thought it might change my perspective, and it did. I saw a whole other side that I hadn’t ever thought about before.”


Photography classes and attending the conference are just some of the exciting new additions to the curriculum options at Brownwood High School. Nix looks toward the future and has great expectations for her students, offering an outlet for creativity, as well as a skill to use in a professional setting. Her students must meet standards and work together on their projects in order to be successful. “I’ve made friends in this class,” Clevenger said. “It’s not just that you do your work and leave. A lot of our photo projects need teamwork. We do photo projects at football games and get to see each other outside of school. So that is fun.” While the photography students attend many events and assist Nix in capturing them on film, they learn how to navigate social events and maintain a standard of excellence, both in attitude and action. “You can always be creative, even if it is used for an industrial job,” Nix said. “It helps the kids in professionalism. They are assigned these jobs and have to learn professionalism. We worked at the Academic Endorsement fair, and those kids had to act in a professional manner as they took photos of the event. If my kids weren’t being professional, that would not be good. But they are excited about doing things few others get to do.”


Another helpful element offered to the students is that they see the practicality along with the passion involved in photography. “Next year will be my senior year, so I definitely want to take Photo 2 next year,” Clevenger said. “Through this class I’ve seen that it’s hard to make photography a career unless you are famous, but it will continue to be a big hobby of mine. It’s so fun. You get to express yourself through your photography.” The art and the expression are a helpful tool to not only the students, but the public. Nix and her students have manned the cameras behind the scenes at many public events this year and will continue to document these important moments of the BHS student body life.


Two photography classes are currently offered for students interested in the skill. Nix plans for even more students with new projects next year. “I am training my replacements,” Nix said. “By the time they finish this program, get a little more education and life experience, I’m hoping some of these kids will take off and start their own business, having learned some lessons from me through the process. I’m looking to the future.”



BHS Students that attended the ATPI Conference

Above: Photography teacher, Heather Nix, stands with the BHS Students that attended the ATPI Conference. (Left to right) Abby Johnson, Isabel Clevenger, Garrett Ellis, Heather Nix, Luke Boisse, Lauren Espinoza