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China Grove students learn about old-fashioned photography

Beverly Litke

China Grove Elementary School

CHINA GROVE — The China Grove Elementary Library Media Center is certainly not a quiet space each Tuesday after school. A group of 22 fourth and fifth grade students meet weekly for an hour of imagination, creativity, discovery, experimenting and, of course, fun.

This after-school club is an outgrowth of the Imagination Foundation, a global endeavor to foster creativity and 21st century skills in children. Library Media Coordinator Beverly Litke applied for and was selected to host a local Imagination Chapter at the school.

Each Imagination Chapter offers a unique experience based on the leadership and young people participating in the program. Since starting this school year, the China Grove Elementary club has participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge, created “Franken-Toys,” completed STEM and coding challenges, enjoyed edible science, and made the paper mache letters for the name on the wall.

David Lamanno of Photography 1851 came to the meeting this week to introduce the subject of photography. He uses authentic equipment and methods to produce tintypes in his Spencer studio. He took the students back in time to the early methods of daguerreotype and tintype as he passed around examples and explained the process.

The students had many questions when they learned about the way photography used to be done. In the current digital photography world, these young students have never experienced working with film negatives, or even have a concept of darkroom development. After the presentation, they enjoyed posing for the camera and pretending to take pictures the old fashioned way.

From this historical perspective, students will move on to a practical application. Another photographer will be coming at a later date to instruct the students in the basics of taking portraits and other types of pictures.

As a 1:1 school, each third- through fifth-grade student has an iPad to use at school and take home. This effectively puts a camera in the hands of every student. The club members will spend time taking photos around the school or at home. Then, the students will choose their best two pictures to be developed and showcased in a school photo gallery. Even in this era of the “selfie,” learning how to compose and take a quality photo is a valuable real-world skill.

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