Monday, April 21, 2008

Photojournalist teaches students to write with light

Sophomore Justin Phillips, right, interviews photojournalist Cheryl Hatch on Monday, April 21, during an all-day journalism workshop at Wheeler High School in Fossil, Ore. The workshop was conducted under the direction of Hatch and Gary L. West, associate editor of the Capital Press. Other student participants in the workshop can be seen in the background. Photo by Macaulay Hankins

Story by Megan Greenfield, Harold Stevens, and Brody D’Elia
Special to the Capital Press

FOSSIL, Ore. -- Cheryl Hatch, is a photojournalist from Corvallis, Ore.

Hatch is currently the writer in residence in Fossil, Ore., and is working with high school students to teach them about photojournalism. She recently finished a similar writer-in-residence stint in Condon, Ore., where she worked with the students to produce a newspaper.

The writer-in-residence program is funded by an organization called Fishtrap, located in Wallowa, Ore. The purpose of the program is to bring writers from different backgrounds into small communities and give students an opportunity to expand themselves and their knowledge of writing and photography.

The Wheeler High School librarian, Pam Hankins, noted that the program provides an opportunity for people with special talent, such as Hatch, to share that talent with others.

"I think that this is an out-of-the-ordinary experience and I hope people can appreciate it," Hankins said.

Kylie Hankins, a senior at Wheeler High School and Hankins' granddaughter, said Hatch helped her become more interested in photography.

Hatch was brought into Fossil on short notice. The original writer scheduled to participate in the program backed out at the last minute, but Hatch was found to fill in.

She was born in Germany; her father was a career Army officer, which led her to a life of constant moving. After high school she ended up in Saudi Arabia for a while. When asked where she grew up, she answered, "everywhere, there is no good answer to that question."

Hatch started taking photographs after buying her first camera a Post Exchange on an U.S. Army base.

Hatch is a photojournalist, meaning someone who tells news stories through photographs. She said she enjoys what she does, but found it difficult to switch from being a war photographer to being a more of an everyday news photographer. She said she has never worked on a project like writers in residence, but she has enjoyed working with the students and seeing new parts of Oregon that she had never been to before.

She said she has loved being a part of a small community and meeting new people. She has never been a part of a small community, nor has she ever really even been a part of any community due to moving around a lot as a child, so it was special to her to be made welcome in Fossil by the students.

While in Condon and Fossil, she has done things she had never dreamed of doing or would have ever had the chance to do if it weren’t for being brought into the communities.
She was invited to a couple different cattle brandings and helped build corrals.

The writer-in-residence program has been a success in her eyes, but if she could do it again she would like to do a few things differently.

She wishes there was more one-on-one time and "more time to build skills." She would have also liked it if she could have been in the schools for a longer period of time so she didn’t feel so rushed in producing a product. She said it was hard to come into Fossil and produce a photo project without knowing if the students had any skills in photography and produce a product in four weeks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very cool, especially in a small school!Kudos to Cheryl Hatch, Capital Press, Gary West, and the students and faculty of Wheeler HIgh School for making this happen!
Nicely done, all!

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