Hanging with the smart kids

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You know it’s bad when the intellect of a junior in high school is intimidating to you.

That’s how I felt during a recent shoot for the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts. Heck, just making sure you get the name right can be daunting for a mouth breather like me.

In spite of that, it was a great day. The school was founded in 1991 through an act of the Arkansas Legislature, and is one of 16 public residential high schools nationally that specializes in “the education of gifted and talented students who have an interest and aptitude for mathematics and science,” according to its website.

Students must be sophomores who live in Arkansas. Many of the students continue their educations in the state, although they have also been accepted at prestigious schools such as Harvard, Stanford and the Air Force Academy.

My day consisted of doing a variety of photos for several marketing uses, and locations were all over the campus – which meant schlepping gear up and down stairs. To say my back was aching at the end of the day was an understatement. Note to self: buy better shoes.

The variety of the day was one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the shoot. No room was the same, and the lighting setups changed with every new location. It’s not easy to adapt to those changes, but a fun part of the creative process.

And, at the end of the day, a great time to hang out with my old friend Donnie, who handles marketing for the school. We consumed great McClard’s barbecue and got caught up on our lives since our newspaper days.

The resulting images were used in a number of different ways, from an ad in the Arkansas Times newspaper to the school’s web site. There was even a national publication that expressed interest in using the images. A fun moment occurred when photographing a group of girls who competed in a national science competition. After getting the shot, Donnie said, “I think you just photographed our next school magazine cover.”

As any photojournalist will tell you, getting the cover always makes you smile.

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