The Journey of a Thousand Miles
Our initial site
Guided by the Wallace Foundation’s 10 Principles of Success for Afterschool Arts Programs, Photo Perspectives launched a Freeport, Maine development site in October 2022 to pilot ideas and develop photo-educational materials for Middle Schoolers. Freeport, and it surrounding communities, provide a diverse sampling of Maine’s characteristics. While perhaps most well-known for being home to world famous retailer, LL Bean, tourists drawn to the small New England town also enjoy easy access to Maine’s coast, nearby mountains for hiking and fresh air, and community members who carry out Maine’s rich farming traditions.
Photo Perspectives did not choose Freeport as its initial site due to its picturesque setting or proximity to many things Maine, however. Access to an instructor known to inspire made Freeport Middle School the perfect place to take the first step towards the goal of bringing extracurricular photography programs to Middle Schools across Maine.
Photo Perspectives - Freeport Middle School Instructor
Elaine DesPres, M.Ed.
Elaine exudes Photo Perspectives’ “Look, Learn, See” philosophy. Early in the selection process, Elaine spontaneously wrote, “teaching students to slow down to look at the world through different perspectives is important to me. … some of the most amazing wonders of life are only discovered when you’re laying on your stomach.” Elaine teaches 7th Grade STEM at Freeport Middle School as well as shares her love and extensive knowledge of the outdoors as a Registered Maine Guide.
Elaine’s friends and co-workers describe her as the type of person who makes you better just by knowing her. Her warm smile, positive attitude, and compassion allow her to see and capture light in this world even when things seem the darkest. She lives the philosophy that thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle without diminishing its impact or life.
Our Freeport Middle School Photographers meet once a week afterschool for the in-person portion of their photography experience. Mrs. DesPres structures meetings to include a brief 5 or 10 minute discussion of a given topic (e.g., elements of design, compositional techniques, technical aspects of using the camera) followed by hands on use of Canon DSLR cameras. Rumor has it that she has been known to bring in home baked goods and snacks.
While photo activities range from unstructured to somewhat directed, the unifying theme of all programmatic activities involves encouraging photographers to examine their subject matter from multiple perspectives and points of view.
Student opportunities to sign out and bring home the 35mm DSLRs will allow for practice and fun outside the classroom setting. Additionally, students can access online written and video learning supplements through a restricted-access online learning portal built specifically for Freeport Middle School students’ use. The online portal also allows photographers to their student to post their work, ask questions, and receive feedback from classmates and instructors.
Selections of each students work are printed and displayed in a hallway gallery existing in the wing leading to the group’s meeting spot. End of the year exhibitions may include an art show, an outdoor community display, greeting cards or postcards, permanent display on the Photo Perspectives website, and/or a video of student imagery narrated by the students.