An Afternoon With Chapin's Photographer

Step into Chapin’s Lower Level Gallery and you’ll see walls covered in beautiful photographs of our school community, moments in time (both big and small) captured throughout the year. Michael Sherman, a former Chapin parent and the School’s official photographer for the past 20 years, takes these captivating images. During a recent afternoon, Mr. Sherman spent time with the Middle School Photography Club, sharing his expertise with the eager group.

The club members met the photographer in the Lower Level and began studying some of his most recent work. “That’s my sister!” one student exclaimed, pointing to a photo. After giving them a closer look at his SLR (single lens reflex) camera, Mr. Sherman answered questions about how he takes his photos and provided suggestions for the young photographers that included:

1)    Take a lot of photos.

2)    Be aware of what is happening around you.

3)    Move to the spot with the best access to your subject.

4)    Always carry extra batteries and memory cards.

“When you’re taking photos you have to look at your subject and, in a brief second, learn everything about them,” he shared. “And never worry about taking too many photos. Take a lot of them! You never know when you’ll capture something great.”

The group talked about the importance of framing (using people, walls, buildings, light/shadow, etc., to draw attention to your subject) and how to bring objects into and out of focus.

One student asked why some of Mr. Sherman’s photos are printed in black and white. “I do that when I’m not crazy about the color of a photo,” he explained, noting that he converts the photos from color to black and white using Photoshop.

“How do you keep your photos clear when you zoom in?” another student wondered. “You have to be very steady and create your own tripod,” the photographer replied. He suggested leaning on a wall or keeping your hands and elbows braced on your body to achieve a crisp shot.

The group especially loved studying Mr. Sherman’s action shots, like an Upper School athlete spiking a volleyball over a net, and asked him how to effectively capture a subject in motion. Mr. Sherman used this opportunity to explain the difference between fast and slow shutter speeds. “You won’t always get the shot, but you can try!” he optimistically noted.

Before they said goodbye, Mr. Sherman took out his camera and, much to their excitement, snapped a few quick photos of the energetic group (featured in the gallery below). The next time these students pass by the Lower Level Gallery’s photo-covered walls, they’ll have a better understanding of – and, likely, a deeper appreciation for – the man behind them.

Browse photos from the visit below (photos by Michael Sherman and Chapin staff):