Photojournalism students explore race, skin tone, technology


This self portrait is by junior Malcolm Taylor. He was recreating this painting by Gustave Courbet.

Photojournalism students explore race, skin tone, technology

In Jayna Rumble's photojournalism class, high school students are mastering their camera controls in order to have complete control over their images... but there's a deeper lesson at hand.

Rumble explains, "During a recent lesson about metering modes, students learned that this power also comes with great responsibility. After learning all the different metering modes that their cameras have and how to use them, we talked about the racist history of camera manufacturers. Students learned that camera manufacturers sadly still have a lot of work to do when it comes to seeing and recognizing non-white skin tones. The fact is that the auto functions of most cameras are developed with white skin in mind, which disenfranchises people of color. By watching this video, students saw how harmful it can be for people of color to not see their skin captured accurately by photographers who don't understand how to use their controls properly. Students had some powerful reactions to learning this information and it led to some excellent conversation among students. I then taught students how to evaluate their scenes and subjects and use their cameras' different metering modes to get accurate images of people with various skin tones. Then, I had students consider what mode they would choose for an upcoming portrait project where they were recreating famous paintings as self-portraits."