School of the Arts Photography Program: A Unique History

Ken Riemer, Alan Tirre, Anthony Rodriguez Herrera, and Susan Rudy

School of the Arts (SOTA) is one of the schools participating in Through the Student Lens 2023, the current exhibit at Image City Photography Gallery.  

The photography program at SOTA, which began 12 years ago, has a rather uncommon history.  After photographer Ken Riemer ( ) gifted the school with one of his photos of a dancer, SOTA Administrator Alan Tirre, suggested to the principal that they should try to get Ken involved at SOTA.  As a result, Ken decided to take SOTA as a pro-bono client. 

After two days of taking photos, Ken discovered that there was no photography program in the arts department, so he suggested an after-school photography club.  Alan became one of his first students, and then they brought Visual Arts Educator/Mentor Susan Rudy on board.  Alan, Ken and Susan became the advisors of the Photo Club. Ken brought in his personal equipment for the students to use. Eventually a contact from RIT donated cameras.  The 3-member club grew to a 40-member club. 

“Soup and Sandwich” Created by Anthony Rodriguez Herrera

After seeing the success of the after-school program, the principal approved photography as part of the arts curriculum. Susan teaches upper-level students in her Studio in Photography courses, and she, Alan and Ken work 2 hours/week in the after-school club with underclassmen.  After participating in the club, many of the students choose to take Susan’s courses.  Since the club has limited time each week, the advisors aren’t able to teach as many techniques as Susan is able to do in her courses.  So Ken says that instead, they “focus on showing the students the difference lighting can make to bring out depth, color and texture.”  The students learn which light makes an image more attractive. They learn the importance of white balance, ISO, shutter speed, and aperture settings, then Ken stresses, “Do your housekeeping.”  In other words, he reminds them that before taking their photos, they need to check these settings.  Ken says, “Once they get the basics in place, they find their way.”  This is very evident in the food-themed photos on display in this exhibit.


“Pastries” Created by Christina Carleton

For more information about shows at Image City Photography Gallery, click here:

One response to “School of the Arts Photography Program: A Unique History”

  1. An awesome example of coordination and energy by administration, teacher and community member to create a challenging curriculum of learning and exploration for students. Well done!

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