Photography Students Expand Skills During Intensive Three-Week Summer Course


“We’re finding a way to look at an area we know
and maybe even see every day in a different way for a photo…”

By Nancy Curtis
NKU Marketing + Communications Intern

While many students were settling into their beach chairs to work on those summer tans, 12 NKU students were still hard at work in the classroom.

During a three-week intensive workshop course that wrapped up May 31, students led by instructor Chris Smith in ARTO 411, Summer Workshop in Photography, experimented and worked to expand their already existing photographic skills.

Each summer ART 411 has a theme. This year, the students worked specifically with the art of travel photography.

Chris Smith Chris Smith

“We want to elevate photos above the level of post card pictures,” Smith said.

The course consisted of students from different parts of campus, majors ranging from photography to electronic media broadcasting, and varying grade levels. Students spent five days a week, six hours a day working on their photos.

“It’s like an old one-room schoolhouse — the advanced kids can mentor the younger kids,” Smith said.

Smith sees the workshop as a perfect summer course. He said that during 15-week courses you get to do your photos, but you have to focus on other classes as well; you can’t dedicate all your time to one photo project. For this class, it’s all you have to focus on.

“They get to think about these photos and these photos alone for three solid weeks ... they’re not distracted by anything else,” Smith said. “Flexibility and the weather are the only other things they’ve got to think about.”

Flexibility is a big part of the course. Some days, the six hours can begin at 6 a.m. while other days they will not start until 4 p.m.

This summer, the students took photos at the Taste of Cincinnati festival and the Anderson Ferry. They did a sunrise shot of the Cincinnati skyline and a panorama shoot at the Crestview Hills mall. They even took a half-day trip to shoot in Rabbit Hash, Kentucky.

“It’s a good segue from the stress of school; it’s just dedicated to photo,” said Emily Wiethorn, a senior applied photography major.

Wiethorn has enjoyed learning how to isolate a moment in her photos and how to do more lifestyle photography.

Photo by JD Richardson
NKU senior John David Richardson captured this image at Findlay Market in Cincinnati for ARTO 411 — Summer Workshop in Photography. 
Photo by Emily Wiethorn

NKU senior Emily Wiethorn captured this image in Rabbit Hash, Ky., for ARTO 411 — Summer Workshop in Photography. See more of Emily's photos...

John David Richardson, a senior applied photography major, has enjoyed learning “the tricks of the trade” and focusing on things that students do not get to learn during the semester.

“We’re finding a way to look at an area we know and maybe even see every day in a different way for a photo,” Richardson said. “We’re honing our commercial skills and learning what’s marketable.”

Throughout the three weeks, students had no tests or technically any homework. They’re only tasked with taking photos on locations and compiling them together in a blog. Smith doesn’t give them specific assignments. He takes them places and allows them to use their creativity to get the shot they want.

“We’re building on what they already know and just honing in on it in a way we can’t always do,” Smith said.

Photos by John David Richardson

Photos by Emily Wiethorn