Journalists explore Union Square through JEA photography workshop


Katelyn Zhao

Corning-Painted Post High School Yearbook Adviser Mike Simons shows another journalism adviser how to access the live view of a photograph’s histogram levels. Simons and Clint Smith led the Digital Photography workshop together.

SAN FRANCISCO — High school journalists attended the Digital Photography Workshop taught by Michael Simons and Clint Smith, yearbooks advisers based in New York and Texas, on Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the Spring JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention.

Simons and Smith introduced basic camera terminologies like aperture, ISO and shutter speed. He then described photography techniques and recommended camera lens brands. 

In a walking tour to Yerba Buena Gardens and the Tenderloin area, Simons assigned students to shoot three photo stories that featured a chosen theme. Along the way, students captured architecture, people and scenes of the Union Square area.

“My favorite part was when we went outside and took pictures of the city, because it was an opportunity for us to get out of the lecture room and actually implement some of the skills that he taught us in the workshop,” TALON reporter Angelina Burrows (10) said. “And what I thought was really cool was seeing all the different types of people.”

After returning from the park, Simons and Smith demonstrated how to enhance portraits using flashes with different colors. To end the day, Simons and Smith commented on students’ photo compositions and answered remaining questions from the morning’s lecture. 

With eight years of experience leading Digital Photography workshops at the NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, Simons shared how each session’s needs differ based on the students attending.

“One of the things that I really enjoy is the breadth of experience and being able to create spaces where more inexperienced or novice photographers can learn from, or be inspired by some of the more experienced students,” Simons said. “Although it’s challenging to have that wide of a range of experience in one room, it was really cool to have that sharing back and forth.”