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A sophomore from Malaysia, Szetho Shan had never taken a photography course before enrolling in SC’s one-hour class. Her digital photography shows her innate talent and earned her a spot on the second cover of this issue of The Southwesterner.
The first thing instructor Tod Megredy noticed about the photographs of Megan McClellan, Wichita freshman, was her sophisticated ability to find a unique viewpoint. She’s now a student photographer in the communications office.
As an accomplished watercolorist, Sarah Jrab, sophomore from Yukon, Okla., brings an artist’s eye to her photography. Her exhibition at College Hill Coffee in Winfield will continue through March.
This feature marks the first of a series that will focus on learning at Southwestern College. SC professors take pride in knowing that their students learn not only in the classroom, but as part of the community that is Southwestern. Syllabus will focus on those classes where learning is part of a lifestyle.

Syllabus: Photography Comes Into Focus at Southwestern

Tod Megredy only has two rules for the student photographers he mentors at Southwestern College.

The first rule is that sometimes a photographer has to get into the silliest positions to take a really good picture. The second is that the resulting photograph should show something in a way it hasn’t been seen before.

If photographers follow these rules, whether they’re amateurs or professionals, Megredy says, they’ll come up with something special.

And by following these rules, students in Megredy’s Introduction to Photography class and in a new interest group he’s organizing for student photographers are learning to tell photo stories.

“ My approach to teaching photography is that it’s about storytelling,’” Megredy says. “The word ‘photography’ means ‘writing with light,’ so whether it’s shooting pictures of a wedding, or a traffic accident, or your cat, you have to be telling a story about what you’re shooting.”

As a first-year faculty member at SC, Megredy brings a depth of experience unusual to small colleges. His journalism degree from the University of Kansas has a photojournalism emphasis, and he has more than 20 years experience as a professional photojournalist. In addition to his work at editor of the Winfield Courier, Megredy has shot for the Associated Press, United Press International, the Washington Post, and other prestigious organizations.

So when he became the principal journalism instructor last fall, he knew he wanted to continue to use his photography expertise. A one-hour course now available (with 21 enrollments this spring) will be expanded to include two two-hour courses in the fall of 2004, one course emphasizing traditional film photography and the second course developing skills with digital cameras. The new emphasis will dovetail with the new communications major which has an option for digital arts.

He’s organizing a photography interest group that will bring these talented photographers together to discuss their art, as well as to take trips to examine the best work in their field.

Megredy already has been impressed by the skills his students have brought to his class. Some students have had outstanding high school instructors to nurture their natural abilities; others have innate talents that surface quickly. Still, he believes Southwestern is an excellent place for budding photographers to emerge.

“ If a student comes to SC with an interest in photography, that student can expect to shoot a lot of pictures. It’s an art that takes a lot of practice,” Megredy says. “Then I try to find them work to do. Megan (McClellan) couldn’t believe she was getting paid to do photography when she began working in the communications office, and we were able to set Sarah (Jrab) up to do a commercial shoot in town.”

So Megredy is pushing photography at Southwestern. It’s a field, he says, that’s ready to come into focus.

Photos by Sarah Jrab (left), Szetho Shan (top), and Megan McClellan (right and bottom).
Story by Sara Severance Weinert. Student photographer portraits by Sunni L. Sheets.