Before last weekend, the photography students at Ransom Everglades School had never thought their work would be seen outside of their classroom. But they now have their art displayed at a local gallery.
Their photographs have been hung on the walls at Frameworks at Commodore Plaza alongside the work of Miami-based fine art photographer Tom Smith.
Smith had recently connected with Matt Stock, a Ransom art teacher and a fellow graduate of the University of Miami, where Smith had been a standout running back. Knowing the importance of recognizing young photographers, Smith invited Stock’s advanced photography class to participate in the exhibition.
His powerful photographs of South Florida scenes ended up being the perfect marriage with the students’ work. The exhibit, “Earth Wind & Water,” is unified by the theme of natural life in Miami, a source of inspiration for both.
The work of four student photographers in Ransom’s inaugural advanced photography class was included in the exhibit, which will run until April 30. Seniors Jillian Awner, Matt Chapelli and Jack Wells and junior Betty McGhee spent time in class to carefully select images from their portfolios.
“Their work is incredible,” Smith said. “People have walked in here and been surprised to learn that a piece is by a student.”
At the opening Saturday evening, the students beamed as guests admired their photographs.
Chapelli, 18, stood by his images of the shoreline and the creatures that dwell there, eager to explain each photograph.
He, like Smith, shot many of his photos along the Miami waterfront near his Key Biscayne home. Since his mother is a former naturalist, he says, he finds himself drawn to the natural side of life.
“I like to shoot in a way that pulls me out of the human perspective and puts me in the position of something smaller,” said Chapelli. “This way, the photo shows how important nature is.”
He was thrilled to learn Saturday that one of his images of a blue heron close-up preening itself had already been sold for $125.
“I have never sold anything before,” Chapelli said. “This whole experience has helped me take photography more seriously.”
Stock says his class has taken away a lot from the exhibit. Students had the the opportunity to learn about framing and what goes into hanging a professional show.
More important, he says, the exhibition has gave his students confidence.
“The opportunity really legitimizes their work for them,” Stock said. “It will fuel them as they continue to pursue photography.”