The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Winged Post
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“What makes a great photo?”: Mark Murray visits upper school journalism classes

Executive+Director+of+the+Association+of+Texas+Photography+Instructors+and+Harker+Journalist-in-Residence+Mark+Murray+points+out+sports+photography+basics+to+journalism+students+Sid+Sanghari+%2811%29+and+Michelle+Wei+%2812%29+on+Sept.+27.+Students+practiced+taking+photos+at+different+locations+on+campus+including+Nichols+and+Davis+Field.
Katelyn Zhao
Executive Director of the Association of Texas Photography Instructors and Harker Journalist-in-Residence Mark Murray points out sports photography basics to journalism students Sid Sanghari (11) and Michelle Wei (12) on Sept. 27. Students practiced taking photos at different locations on campus including Nichols and Davis Field.

Association of Texas Photography Instructors Executive Director and Harker’s Journalist-in-Residence Mark Murray offered photography advice and reviewed portfolios with upper school journalism students the week of Sept. 25. 

Murray presented “What makes a great photo?” his first day. He reviewed winners from the 2019-2022 National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) photo contest, commenting on techniques and storytelling components behind each photo like action and emotion. 

“When we capture images, we should always have the story in the back of our mind,” Murray said to the period three newspaper class. “If there’s no story, the reader has nothing to latch on to.” 

After reviewing photographic techniques with classes, Murray offered feedback on this year’s first issue of the Winged Post. 

“Let your content drive your design,” Murray said. “[Use] illustrations when illustrations are the best way to cover a story … Start thinking about: ‘what do we want to tell our readers?’”

Executive Director of the Association of Texas Photography Instructors and Harker Journalist-in-Residence Mark Murray holds up editions of the Winged Post, Harker’s student newspaper, to the class on Sept. 26. Murray offered feedback on the latest editions of the paper in his recent visit to the upper school. (Alison Yang)

Murray advised students on developing and editing a photography portfolio, such as submitting the minimum number of pieces required to highlight the photographer’s strongest work and showcasing a diverse skill set within selected works. 

Throughout the week, Murray also reviewed photography portfolios with journalism students one-on-one with journalism students. Senior Photo Editor Brandon Zau (12), who signed up for a critique, appreciated Murray’s suggestion to focus on intentional photography. 

“We touched on ‘do’s and don’ts’ of when you’re submitting a portfolio — your audience, general things to go over — which I thought was really helpful,” Brandon said. “Another piece of advice he gave was [to consider] how I want to be presenting my work to different people, and what kind of message I’m trying to convey with the medium of photography.” 

Murray also discussed photo stories with students from the TALON Yearbook over the week, critiquing several professional examples, like from photographer W. Eugene Smith, to showcase what makes an effective photo story, which make up the majority of TALON spreads. TALON Co-People and Seniors Editor Mirabelle Feng (11) emphasized the interactive nature of Murray’s presentations. 

“Something I really enjoyed was the way [Murray] included discussion from all of the students in the class,” Mirabelle said. “For example, he didn’t show us the photo story at first and only gave us the context. He started asking us: ‘What would you want to include in a shot for this story?” It gave us the opportunity to start thinking about what we would include in a shot list.”

Classes ventured into Nichols Hall and onto Davis Field to experiment with shooting in different lighting environments on Murray’s second and final day working with classes. The unique skylight in Nichols as well as the bright sunlight and dark shadows on Davis Field challenged students to fine tune their exposures and shutter speeds. 

Executive Director of the Association of Texas Photography Instructors and Harker Journalist-in-Residence Mark Murray offers advice to Emma Li (9) during a newspaper class on Sept. 27. Students practiced manipulating white balance and exposure in uniquely-lit environments such as Nichols Hall. (Margaret Cartee)

“I always love being surprised,” Murray said. “Especially [when high schoolers] make me [realize that] ‘I never thought about doing a photo like that’ or ‘I never thought about that point of view.’ High school photography is one where you can still be amazed or astonished, or sometimes a little cynical, about what you’re doing.”

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About the Contributors
Katerina Matta, Co-Sports Editor
Katerina Matta (11) is the co-sports editor for Harker Aquila and the Winged Post, and this is her third year on staff. This year, Katerina aims to expand sports features and diversify game coverage. In her free time, she enjoys playing beach volleyball and reading.
Disha Gupta, Reporter
Disha Gupta (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Disha hopes to familiarize herself with the journalism community and write meaningful articles. In her free time, she likes to play basketball and learn piano pieces.
Alison Yang, Co-A&E and Lifestyle Editor
Alison Yang (11) is the co-arts and entertainment and lifestyle editor for Harker Aquila and the Winged Post, and this is her third year on staff. Alison is looking forward to getting to know more people and working on photography. She also likes to hang out with her cat Schrödinger, play Russian Fishing 4 and watching bad movies.
Katelyn Zhao, Humans of Harker Co-Editor-in-Chief
Katelyn Zhao (12) is the co-editor-in-chief of Humans of Harker, and this is her fourth year on staff. Katelyn aims to honor each of the stories within the Harker community this year, especially those of the graduating Class of 2024. Outside of the newsroom, she enjoys biking, drinking coffee or matcha and reading recommended books from her friends.
Margaret Cartee, Aquila Co-Managing Editor
Margaret Cartee 12) is a co-managing editor for Harker Aquila, and this is her fourth year on staff. This year, Margaret wants to do more illustrations and meet all the new journalists in the program. In her free time, she likes sketching on paper, playing volleyball and sitting in chairs.

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