The Dawson Professional Photography students partnered again this year with Campus Life and Leadership (CLL) and members of the Information Systems and Technology (IST) to offer graduation portraits to over 600 of 2023 Dawson grads. The collaboration is an excellent example of communities working together to achieve mutually beneficial goals.

CLL has previously offered graduation portraits to college grads through outside vendors. Still, considering the distinguished reputation of Dawson’s Photography program, former Recreation Technician Billi-Jo Poirier felt that hiring third-year photography students for the job made sense, so she put the wheels in motion to make it happen.

Like working at a portrait studio

Valerie Simmons, the teacher from the Photography Department who includes the project as content and assessments in three of her courses, explains: “I had been looking for an authentic, real-world learning opportunity for my students for a while, but working within the boundaries of a CEGEP program can be challenging when it comes to new initiatives. This project is the closest I could get to what I sought for our students.

“These photography students have been executing traditional portrait photography since the first semester, but the goal of this project goes beyond photographing a portrait. I was looking for something where students would live the behind-the-scenes realities of an actual photography business. The intense week of shooting requires all photo students to collaborate and perform at their highest professional level while putting their soft skills to practice with a diverse clientele.”

What Dawson grads said

Teams of photography students created the advertising materials for the event and prepared and executed photography sessions throughout the one-week pop-up photo studio.

“You guys are so Nice and so fun! I love my pictures! — Dianna Volpe, Nursing

“I was so stressed about having my picture taken, but it was fun. I look amazing!” —Katerina Koropoulis, Social Science

“You guys are a great team.” — Elli-Zoe Nardi, Child Studies

With support from CLL and IST

CLL coordinated the project, assuring the creation of an online store with IST, booking the studio space, getting the word out to grads through Omnivox, ordering caps and gowns, and responding to issues in connection with bookings. In the spirit of Dawson community collaboration, the photography department hired The Image Salon, a local retouching company founded and operated by Dawson photography graduates, to retouch and deliver over 2,200 grad photographs.

After the expenses of caps, gown rental, and retouching, a portion of the profits will go to the Campus Life and Leadership Scholarship Fund, with the remaining money going to the Professional Photography graduates, primarily to fund their graduation exhibition and vernissage.

“This project requires a lot more work from CLL, the Professional Photography Department and students, and the IST team than one from the outside would suspect,” said Valerie.

“However, when it all comes together, it provides a rich learning experience for our photography students and a lot of very satisfied customers.”

Last Modified: May 3, 2023