Photographer Turns Instructor, Inspires Peers

Amanda Young, Editor-in-Chief

While some visit San Francisco to have lunch, visit the Golden Gate Bridge, shop, or relax at the beach, senior Luke Rodriguez travels to the city to find inspiration.

Rodriguez said his hobby began when he started taking photos of soccer cleats 4 years ago. After that, he “kind of just started to take more pictures of the city and stuff like that.”

“I like going and walking around the city and taking street pictures,” said Rodriguez. After taking photos of everything from people to skyscrapers, Rodriguez edits his shots with Adobe Lightroom, which he said he learned to use via “trial and error.”

Rodriguez’s skill with Adobe led photography teacher Collette Sweeney to pick him as her teacher’s assistant this year. “It’s best to pick someone who is already very familiar with Photoshop. It’s a complicated software program to learn. Anyone who is good at all the basics and a little bit beyond is going to be very helpful to my students,” she said. “I sometimes will have as many as 32 students in the class, and when they get stuck on a particular tool or they’re working with something in Photoshop that’s confusing, it’s helpful to have a TA that can respond to all those questions, in addition to myself as a teacher.”

“He knows a lot about photography, not only the cameras and processing of film, which he does – he does traditional photography and digital photography – but he’s very comfortable around the software and the computers,” said Sweeney, who also had Rodriguez as a student in her AP Photography class last year.

Rodriguez’s style is “atypical,” according to Sweeney. “1st of all, he enjoys doing all kinds of landscapes, [and] he enjoys doing macro photography,” she said. Macro photography is photography of extremely close-up objects.

Junior Jacob Tabibian, a friend with whom Rodriguez has worked, said, “Luke’s work is cool because he was able to take it and apply it to art schools. I think that he took it a lot farther than I could take it. He’s really talented, and I respect that.”

Tabibian added that Rodriguez has helped him refine his own skills. “It pushes you to get better because you have criticism. It’s hard to criticize yourself, but when you have someone else to tell you what’s going on, that’s easier,” he said.

While photography started as “more of a fun thing” for them, it became a mechanism for “self-expression,” according to Tabibian. “For us, photography is how we feel in that moment and how we can capture that.”

This semester, Rodriguez and seniors Carter Hiett and Josh Harlev are planning an Academy period where they will demonstrate how to develop traditional photos. “[Luke] is fascinated by traditional photography and, in fact, will be involved with some film development planning this term,” said Sweeney. “It’s a fun look at what used to be the means to create images. We’re going to delve into that just for the fun of it.”

During the session, which has not yet been scheduled, Rodriguez, Hiett, and Harlev hope to show students “how to develop traditional film using a tank, a reel, and 5 different chemicals that go into the process,” said Sweeney.

Rodriguez plans to continue pursuing photography after high school. He is “applying to mostly photo schools,” including New York University and Parsons School of Design.