This year, students at Montini Catholic have been given a unique opportunity to explore their creative side with the inception of its Photography Club (called the Montini Shutterbugs). The club's Advisor, Mrs. Dina Kwit (of Elmhurst) has always had a passion for photography and an even bigger passion to share her enthusiasm for the lens with young novices.
Kwit, whose son, Ian, is a junior at Montini Catholic, is the owner of Outside the Box Enterprises, a media production company in Elmhurst specializing in sports and lifestyle photography. "I really wanted to start the Photography Club to give the students at Montini another way to express themselves through the Arts," she said. "In a world where so many people communicate through social media, photos have become our eyes to the world. The internet has given us the unique opportunity to learn about other people and places via photos on Instagram or Twitter."
Even though Kwit is impressed with the quickly advancing photo capabilities of smartphones, she feels that the art of learning how to use a camera, in a manual sense is a underdeveloped skill. "Taking a photo with a phone is convenient and fun, but learning how to truly manipulate the composition and colors with a camera, in order to reveal the world as we see it, is a bit more challenging and rewarding."
"Our club focuses (no pun intended she insists) on learning all the areas of the camera," informed Kwit. She starts students out with the basics of photography - working on manual settings only. "We complete projects that involve manipulation of shutter speed, aperture, lighting, reflections, portraits and product photography." Most recently, Kwit took her students on a "Photo Walk" in downtown Chicago. "We took the train to the city, walked around and simply photographed life in the big city. It was very interesting to see how differently each of the students viewed the world."
The group has worked on other themed projects as well, involving fall colors, shutter speed manipulation, reflections and green screen photos, to name a few. "All of our students share their work at our club meetings," she said. "I think what has been most interesting is to for them to understand that there are many ways to take a great photo and that not everyone sees things the same way."
Students are learning how to photograph sporting events at Montini as well. From learning how to balance fluorescent light in a gym - to capturing all the action of a wrestling match or basketball game, Kwit's students are eager to learn. "I like to show them that there is more to a sporting event than what meets the eye - there are fans in the stands, determined athletes, and emotional coaches - all can be the subjects of amazing photos."
According to Kwit, her students thoroughly enjoyed the many challenges presented with sports photography and they plan on photographing other events and activities as the school year progresses.
"In the coming year they will be learning Photoshop working with a fish eye lens, wide angle lens and a 500 fixed focal length lens," she said. Her enthusiasm for photography is very apparent. "We will also be going on more Photo Walks. I'm hoping for some snow so they can do a monochrome shoot at one of the forest preserves!"
Montini's Shutterbugs meet every other Wednesday from 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM at the school. "We picked an evening time so that students involved in sports or other clubs can still participate." Cameras used include, Canon, Nikon and Pentax brands. "If a student does not have a camera, I let them borrow one of mine," said Kwit. "I also like to stress that members don't need to know a lot about photography - they just need to have an open mind and the willingness to learn and share their creativity."
"All of my students have been fun and inquisitive. One senior (Matt Baka) has also started to learn Photoshop on his own and has created some amazing photos with this program. He has shared some really cool projects. I think that his artwork has inspired some other members to learn more about Photoshop and what it can do."
Kwit finds her work with the students to be a very rewarding experience for her as well. "When a student comes in and can't wait to share what he/she has been doing, or is full of questions about how a use a camera setting, that tells me that I am opening up a new world to them that they can take to any level. They are all amazing students and I couldn't think of a better way to spend my Wednesday evenings."