EACC Commercial Photo Students Head Underwater

Elkhart Area Career Center students spent part of their winter break in the water. Not on a warm sunny beach – but in the Elkhart Memorial pool, capturing underwater photographs.

Under the guidance of Commercial Photography instructor Justin Wiard, Sierra Sibley (Elkhart Memorial senior), Maddy Morehead (Elkhart Christian Academy senior), and Abby Krider (Elkhart Memorial junior) had the unique opportunity of photographing people under water. It’s a project that even their instructor has never done.

Outside of the EACC, Justin operates By Kelly and Justin, a photography company. He was approached in his business to complete a photo shoot for the band Red in the Water. He joked with the band that they should dress in red and be photographed under water. What started as a joke became reality, as the band loved the idea and wanted to run with it. Justin thought it was the perfect opportunity to bring in his Commercial Photography students for the unique learning experience.

“We talked about it and prepped the best we could, but we really weren’t sure what to expect since we’d never done it,” said Maddy. “The camera was in a special water enclosure, but we had to play it by ear quite a bit – solving technical issues, adjusting our lighting, figuring out how quickly we sank.”

This hands-on approach is what so many students find appealing about the Commercial Photography program at the EACC. Students in the two-year program begin with photography fundamentals – focus, color, balance – then move on to camera functions and advanced lighting. Students shoot during the class, but also complete independent work to help build their portfolios. Students receive college credits through Ivy Tech for their successful participation, and their completed portfolios illustrate the level of hands-on experience that prepares them for college or their career.

“I enjoy how challenging the class is,” said Sierra. “You can work on capturing a photo for hours and end up with just one perfect shot – but that one shot is completely worth it.” Maddy echoes Sierra’s thoughts, “When you get that one stunning shot, all the hard work falls into place.” Abby’s favorite part of the class is how hands-on it is, how in-depth the study is.

The three students were excited to work on this project, and are looking forward to more unique opportunities like this through the Commercial Photography program. As for their future, Sierra hopes to stay with photography throughout college and wants to travel the world, capturing photographs of different cultures. Maddy also wants to continue with photography, saying she hopes to focus on travelling, as well as animals. Abby plans to focus her photography on portraiture.

For younger students interested in photography, Justin recommends practicing, saying “Take pictures all the time – with your phone, a point-and-shoot, or a DSLR. Explore art in all media, constantly create and grow your mind.”

The Elkhart Area Career Center is located at 2424 California Road, Elkhart, Indiana. Classes are open to juniors and seniors in Elkhart and surrounding districts, as well as students who are homeschooled. Students in the Commercial Photography class earn three transferable college credits per year or six credits total for the two-year program completion. For additional information on the EACC, please visit http://myeacc.org.

Sierra Sibley, Maddie Morehead, Abbie Krider