Huntington High School photography students recently traveled into Manhattan for a tour of the Aperture Foundation’s gallery along with stops at several other well-regarded galleries and an opportunity to practice street photography in the Big Apple.
Students enrolled in Advanced Placement Studio Art: 2D Design and Advanced Photography participated in the field trip, which included about 30 teenagers in all and four chaperones, including trip leader Pamela Piffard-Williams, who heads Huntington High School’s photography program.
Huntington photography teacher Pamela Piffard-Williams.
In the lead-up to the trip, students learned about street photography and what it takes to capture such images.
Besides the Aperture Foundation gallery, the Huntington group visited the Yossi Milo, Clamp Art and Bryce Wolfowitz galleries. “I liked the first exhibit that we went to because of the photographs and videos made by the photographers,” Madelyn Diaz said. “The whole exhibit was inspirational and creative.”
The teenagers quickly embraced to their surroundings as they went about their artistic work. “The exhibit at the Aperture Gallery allowed us to see that family members or relatives can model just as well as celebrities,” Grace Tyrell said. “I really enjoyed this exhibit.”
Manhattan is one of the world’s leading photographic centers and the city’s always vibrant life gave students limitless choices as they went about completing their class assignment.
“What most impacted me at the Aperture Gallery was how the subjects in the images were all relatives, friends or even just someone in the area instead of professional models,” Jordan Cook said. “It showed that beauty isn’t limited to who companies may hire, but to each and every person of every group or culture.”
The trip both educated and inspired the teenagers, who returned to Huntington with plenty of new ideas and an eagerness to try them out.
“My favorite exhibit was the Wolkowitz Gallery,” Andreu Nunez said. “It had various pictures of animals and ice glaciers representing climate change and the quality of the pictures was amazing. It was an amazing exhibit. There was a picture of three lions it was Greta. I loved the exhibit.”
Ms. Piffard-Williams has been bringing her students to Manhattan and other field locations for many years. “It was a beautiful day in the city, walking around taking pictures and visiting cool photography galleries,” Sam Kimmelman said. “It was cool listening to where the pictures derived from and what the motives were behind the photographer.”
Huntington has a thriving photography program and its participants routinely win awards for their work.
“I really liked the Aperture Gallery because it was very interesting to see work from photographers that come from all different backgrounds, age groups and different stories that they told through their photographs,” Jelani Idrissa said.
Participants completed a gallery packet and shooting assignment on location during the trip.
“I was very excited to go on this trip and it definitely exceeded my expectations,” Julia Gorecki said. “All of the exhibits were very interesting and overall it was a fun day.”
It’s been 21 years since Mrs. Piffard-Williams arrived at Huntington High School in September 1998 to begin her teaching career. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, earning an associate’s degree in photography in 1996 and then obtained a B.A. in photography and a state teaching certificate at Parsons School of Design/New School University in 1998. She received a master’s in graphic design at Long Island University–C.W. Post College in 2003.
The faculty member’s love affair with photography started early in life. “I first took a class in middle school,” she said. “I wanted to do it because my sister had liked it. Immediately I knew it was a passion. By the time I was 14, I had my own darkroom and I spent every spare moment printing.”
By the time she was 15, Mrs. Piffard-Williams was already shooting local bands and the following year as a 16-year old she was working for Under the Volcano fanzine (a magazine for fans that’s typically produced by amateurs) and had done three albums.
What’s her advice to aspiring photographers? “To get started, just shoot a lot and keep doing it,” Mrs. Piffard-Williams said. “Network as much as you can and show your work to anyone who will look at it.”