By Preston Frazier / August 10, 2021

Celebrating a picturesque day: Photography and STEM fun

Updated 6/4/24

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. . . I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

“Picture” this for a moment. Imagine there was a day that “captures” the essence of snapping photos from all around the world. Wouldn’t that be great?

Now, don’t “zoom” to conclusions, but I have some good news to share. If you can look past my cheesy puns and dad jokes, the good news is there is a day for amazing picture takers everywhere.

World Photography Day is celebrated annually on August 19. The Economic Times has some history and fun facts, such as the year when World Photography Day originated: 1837. If you do the math, that is an amazing 184 years ago! We love history and celebrating days that aren’t too common. So, let’s discuss how some of our Pitsco talent got started with photography, tips on taking that perfect picture, and how STEM can be found in photography.

Pitsco Photographers – Where’d It Click?

We have some very talented individuals at Pitsco. Within that group are some awesome photographers. We asked around about how some on our team got started with photography.

Melissa Karsten, digital marketing specialist, got her first camera as a gift when she was fairly young and says she took photos of EVERYTHING. If there were no people or pets, she’d set up a still life of everyday items or wander outside looking for a bug or leaf to shoot. Melissa honed her photo skills at Missouri Southern State University and then at Pitsco. Melissa shared, “I’ve always loved that beauty can be found in unexpected places.”

On the flip side, Todd McGeorge, graphic designer, got into photography after learning from Larry Thornburg at Pitt State University as part of his major. Todd enjoyed the technical aspects of photography, such as learning about the f-stop, and found his time in the darkroom was a great foundation for understanding today’s software. Since quality digital cameras became available, he focuses on studio product shots but is always looking for challenges – currently these are digital manipulation and animation.

If you’re a photographer, how and when did you start? We’d love to hear in the comments.

Smartphone Photo-Taking Tips

Because we have some experienced photographers on our team, you might like some tips directly from them. Take these phone photography tricks on your next photo outing! 

  • Don’t settle for default camera settings. If you have an iPhone, turn on Smart HDR for high-quality photos!
  • Keep a steady hand and be still when taking a photo. Lean on a steady surface or use a tripod to ensure a sharp-looking photo.
  • Pay attention to the background behind the subject you’re shooting. Is there something distracting from the main subject? Make sure to remove what you don’t want in the shot before you take the picture. 
  • Try taking photos from different angles. Perspective is key; bird’s-eye view or a worm’s-eye view can create surprising results! Or, try out the panoramic settings on your phone to get your whole surrounding.
  • Don’t zoom. Using the zoom on your phone camera can cause pixilation and uneditable artifacts in your photo. Get as close as possible to your subject and crop later. 
  • If you’re shooting a moving object, say an animal or sports action, hold down the shutter button on your phone (the button used to take the photo) to get a not-blurry shot. When you hold this down, the camera will take several shots of that moment that you can choose from later.
  • If possible, take a few photos and move them to a bigger screen. You might catch something you would have otherwise missed on the smaller screen.
  • Most photos need editing. If nothing else, use autocorrection and practice cropping. iPhone has some great editing apps that allow you to edit your shots and get creative!
  • Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. Doing is usually the best way to learn! Take time to play with all the camera settings in different scenarios.

What other tips would you offer when taking a picture?

STEM in Photography

I’m sure all of us would agree that photography is an art. There are also many ways in which it can be tied to STEM in some capacity. For example, we can look at how a camera works and see so many science and technology applications. CreativeLive shares some interesting information regarding how a camera works and the science behind it.

Here are some of the very basic highlights (click the link above to explore further 😊):

  • A camera lens collects and focuses the light.
  • Film is made up of light-sensitive materials.
  • When the materials in the sensors are hit with light from the lens, it captures the shape and details based on how much light is coming off the objects.
  • Lenses can help alter a photograph’s composition, and zoom lenses help with how close or far away the object of photo appears.

There’s so much that goes into photography and so much that goes into STEM and this popular art form. What are some other STEM topics you can share with your students regarding photography?

Confidence Meets Parenting shares some fun educational activities kids can do with a camera.

  • Teach students storytelling by using photos and imagery to tell a story. 
  • Create a word math problem and use pictures of objects to solve each problem. 
  • Build a scavenger hunt and use cameras to capture the items you find.
  • Let your students get creative with editing and artistic expression by using a self-portrait and editing apps to draw themselves as who they want to be.

For additional photography-based resources, check out our TTS Easi Scope Microscope! This handheld digital microscope enables students to see objects magnified up to 43 times and captures images and video! 

Students will also love the Sports Camera with Wi-Fi. This camera can be mounted on several TTS robots so students can track the robot’s movements and take images or videos on the go!

For older students, be sure to check out our STEM Expeditions® Optical Solutions, where students build on their knowledge of optics and how to manipulate light waves.  

Have other photography activities you do with your students? Please share in the comments.

In the meantime, on August 19, the official World Photography Day, snap a photo and share it on social media with the hashtag #WorldPhotographyDay.

Snap away and stay safe, my friends!




TOPICS: IN THE CLASSROOM, IDEAS & INSPIRATION, Teacher Resources, Technology, STEM, Resources, Activities, STEAM, Workforce Development, Art

Preston Frazier

Written by Preston Frazier

Hi all! I’m one of Pitsco’s education advisors and have the pleasure of serving the Midwest. I travel quite a bit visiting with teachers and presenting at workshops whenever I have the opportunity to do so. I’m an alum of the University of Missouri and Pittsburg State University and a supporter of our Big Brothers Big Sisters local chapter. I love traveling, going to sporting events, and hanging out with my wife and daughter whenever possible.