Celebrating Community Creativity: Student Photography

Claire Watson ’21

Elyse Kim '21 and Abby Thomas '23

For our second installment of ‘Celebrating Community Creativity,’ we compiled student photographs and reflections in order to get a glimpse into the minds of our classmates, as they use art to spread joy during a period of social distancing. These photographers use their cameras to find beauty in ordinary things and capture even the simplest and purest moments in life. 

To celebrate our community’s creativity, The Sentinel has collected photos from Claire Watson, Brian Douglas, Abby Thomas, and Brody Menzies. and compiled their answers into a Q&A to give further insight into their art. To view more community photographs, please be sure to check out our faculty submissions here.


How and why did you start photography?

Claire Watson ‘21: I first started because I fell in love with the aspect, depth of field as well as the beautiful moments that can be captured. 

Brian Douglas ‘21: I first started photography by playing with my dad and grandpa’s cameras when I was about 4 years old. From there, my interest in photography only burgeoned.

Abby Thomas ‘23: I started photography because whenever I would see something beautiful outside, I would always want to capture that moment. Like a perfect sunset, a flower in the perfect position, I would always want to have that photo forever. Getting to see nature’s purest beauties and getting to photograph them is what I love so much about photography.

Brody Menzies ‘20: I started photography kind of on my own just with my mom’s camera and figuring things out for myself but not really knowing any of the art or science behind it. And then I ended up taking darkroom film photography in 9th grade, and that really fortified my knowledge of photography. 


What do you like about photography?

Claire Watson ‘21: I can show people how I see certain objects or situations in ways they didn’t. 

Brian Douglas ‘21: I love that photography gives one the ability to share a single frame of life in vivid detail. It provides a vehicle by which experiences can be shared, moments can be remembered, and one’s artistic vision can be embodied.

Abby Thomas ‘23: I love that you can see one thing and take a picture of it from multiple angles and it becomes an entirely different photo. 

Brody Menzies ‘20: As someone who is hoping to have a career in film, I really appreciate the story you can share in a photo and how it really forces you to tell a story — with film you have time to do it, but with photos you only get one frame. 


How do you decide what to photograph?

Claire Watson ‘21: I used to mostly take pictures of still objects because they were easier to capture, but I started using my dogs because I love to capture their joy and happiness. 

Brian Douglas ‘21: For me, certain things jump out as being “photographable” yet the challenge comes in both expanding one’s perception of “photographable” and in taking things not inherently photogenic and making them so.

Abby Thomas ‘23: I just photograph whatever is natural and whatever I feel deserves to be captured forever. If I see something, sometimes I just feel drawn to it and I just feel the need to take a photo of it.

Brody Menzies ‘20: It’s hard for me, but I really like portraiture and placing people in a way that interacts with the environment in a cool way. I love street photography for that reason, but I also really love carefully crafted and posed photos, too. 


What do you want people to feel/think when they look at your photos?

Claire Watson ‘21: Joy and pleased.

Brian Douglas ‘21: I want people to have a sense that they’re present in the moment the photograph was taken. I want them to feel as if they were standing right there beside me.

Abby Thomas ‘23: I want people to see what I see. I want people to feel how I felt when taking that photo and understand the beauty that I saw.

Brody Menzies ‘20: With my photos, I either try to convey a feeling of nostalgia or homeliness OR something more surreal depending on what I’m focusing for. I try to create interest in my photos so that it’s not just looking at a pretty thing but investigating the photo for detail.


Do you try to convey a certain message through your photos? If so, what is that message?

Claire Watson ‘21: I try to show the beauty and happiness in our everyday lives.

Brian Douglas ‘21: I think that some photos have an intrinsic message. For example, a beautiful waterfall set in a far-flung forest conveys, to me, a message of conservation and natural beauty. Sometimes it’s up to the photographer to convey the photo’s message, whether through composition, editing, or otherwise, but sometimes the photo conveys its own message. It’s important to note that a photo isn’t just the pure product of a photographer’s work but rather a photographer’s translation of a book written long ago. 

Abby Thomas ‘23: If I try to convey a message, the message is usually about how you don’t need to edit a photo or change something natural for it to be beautiful.

Brody Menzies ‘20: I’m not sure, I think my work doesn’t really fall together in any neat way and there’s a lot of variety in what I like to photograph so there isn’t really a single message.