There is no greater compliment than when a student can show you something that they have learned, that you didn’t show them. One, because as an educator, you have humbled yourself enough that the student feels comfortable to share with you what they have learned, and two, you have established a learning environment of trust and respect. Only when these two elements are present, can a student be willing to share their knowledge. I had such an experience this past week and I was blessed for it.

Three weeks ago, I talked with one of my advanced digital photography students. One of the major projects assigned to two of the students who were taking an independent study course, was to photograph each senior from a head to toe shot against a chroma-key background in order to use it in the senior section of the yearbook. As I talked with Rachael, she expressed her concern with how to find the time to get 49 seniors to schedule a time to be able to shoot each senior portrait. She is in volleyball and has sports practice every day after school and soon would be leaving for the Far East tournament. As I was talking with her, I asked her if I should ask the Campusfoto International photographer that would be coming in a few weeks, if that photographer could take all the photos instead. It would mean, the two students would need to find a different project, but might make this assignment more manageable. So I emailed the owner of Campusfoto International, Tim Murray, and asked if his photographer could be able to shoot these portraits after all the retake photos were taken on Oct. 29.

To my surprise, Mr. Murray said that he was planning on coming himself to take our retake photos and that he would be more than happy to try to work with me in getting the senior portraits done. He doesn’t usually shoot head to toe shots and wouldn’t be bringing his largest green screen, so we would need to provide something that could work. He also said that if I had a couple of students who would like to learn from him about lighting techniques and how to shoot against chroma-key backgrounds that he would let them take the photos and he would just assist. That made my two students delighted to be a part of this professional level photo shoot using his equipment and expertise in the business.

The day came and everything went according to plan. We scheduled every senior, one minute per senior, with only two shots each. Each senior was on time and we didn’t have to run around and pull anyone out of class. Every teacher had been informed of it before hand, and as the student finished, the student was sent back to class, so there was very little disruption to the teacher’s class time. Mr. Murray gave me the digital memory card and I downloaded all of the photos to my computer. Then the difficult task of removing the background would begin.

Rachael came back to the classroom and asked how I would remove the green screen from the photos. I told her that I wasn’t exactly positive about what the best approach would be, but I demonstrated how I would first go about it. However, there was one photo that we really liked where a girl had thrown her head back and her hair went flying straight up into the air. We decided we wanted to use that shot, but we were all worried about how to get rid of the green screen from the fine strands of her hair.

The next day, my advanced digital photography student, Rachael, came to me and brought her laptop computer. She told me that she found a tutorial on that described how to get background removed even from fine strands of hair. We watched it together and I had to agree with her that this looked like the best method. I tried it out and it worked. It worked so well, that I totally changed my workflow in how to remove the green screen from all the other photos. It was fast and much more efficient and accurate than any method that I had previously used.

I was so proud of my student for being able to apply something that she had learned from the video tutorials that the school had paid for from And the fact that she felt comfortable enough with me to share her knowledge. We both benefited from this experience and I felt really proud of my student for sharing her knowledge with me.