By Julie Barzilay
Itâs January 7. Ashley Halkett â09 and Joey Meyer â09 are lounging near the sculpture in the Rugby courtyard. They climb among the stones and wooden planks, balancing precariously and smiling. Fortunately, Jason Mow â09 is but a few feet away, ready to immortalize this moment. Click.
Itâs February 2. Adam Rothman â09 is relaxing in the lounge as his friends scribble out solutions to Calculus problems, laugh uproariously at each otherâs jokes and chatter softly. Ben Barad â09 sneaks up stealthily behind Rothman. He leaps up suddenly, making a wild face. Click. Rothman and his camera are ready to capture this alarming expression of insanity and mirth.
For the past two months, Rothman, armed with his new Nikon D700, and Mow with his D90 â both Christmas gifts â have devoted themselves to framing snapshots of everyday life at Harvard-Westlake and showcasing their works on Facebook and Flickr. Rothman also posts his photos on his website, http://www.adamrothman.com.
“We sort of separately, although sort of cooperatively, got cameras around the same time and took pictures,” Mow said.
Photography found Rothman in a rather roundabout way: it was the excitement of digital cameras cheap enough for practical consumption that sparked his interest, he said.
“I have a gadget fetish, so I was really more interested in it from a technical perspective,” Rothman said. “When pictures made their way onto computers, they could become anything you wanted them to be.”
Rothman found his footing in the world of digital photography through pure trial and error, with a few instruction manuals thrown in for good measure. Experimenting with photography is somewhat about oneâs mindset, Rothman said.
“Everything I know about photography Iâve learned by pushing buttons on cameras and reading manuals to figure out what I just did,” he said. “I do read a few websites semi-regularly â dpreview.com and kenrockwell.com â for product reviews and tips and tricks. I also have a lot of friends who are very much into photography and Iâm always learning from them.”
Mow is one such friend. Neither he nor Rothman has a strict set of rules for composing shots, but both keep the “rule of thirds” in mind as they click away. The rule means that the photographer divides the image into nine equal sections and plays with alignment rather than simply centering the subject.
“The pictures capturing my friendâs smiling and interacting with each other are my favorite because itâs not something I can set up again,” Mow said.
Both feel that practice â and rapid-fire photographyâ makes perfect.
“I think too many people worry about every little technical aspect of their photographs, and end up missing good shots as a result,” Rothman said.
Rothman hasnât been able to resist developing a few favorites among his photos.
“I have one of Ben Barad that was taken really close up,” he said. “He was coming towards me, so the camera didnât quite focus perfectly. Heâs also making a funny face that, when combined with the soft look of the picture, makes him look like Yoda. I laugh every time I see it. I have another one of Jason Mow looking rather dazed in SSR, which I think captures pretty well the way we all feel in that class.”
Rothman says people arenât typically annoyed to become the subjects of his photos, more often amused.
“I think the thing I love most about Harvard-Westlake is the people,” he added. “Whether I barely know them or weâve been friends since seventh grade, everyone in our class is really cool and worth getting to know. I wish I could say that Iâm trying to make some kind of huge, overarching social commentary with my pictures but really Iâm just having fun.”
Mow also hopes the pictures will serve as reminders of his Harvard-Westlake experience.
“I take pictures as an art and as a memory,” he said. “This is the second semester of my senior year; Iâm never going to have this time back, and I want to remember it. I want to remember all my friends and my school and everything going on around me.”