[Oct. 2016 Features] Parker captures photos around the world

Molly Mahoney ’18


Instead of tanning at a yacht club or strolling in the sand at Compo Beach, Jessie Parker ’18 opted to see the world this past summer. With a keen eye for art and a desire to travel, Parker flew 2,700 miles to Iceland and embarked on a 21 day photography trip throughout the country.

When Parker was a little girl, her favorite after-school activity was art class. “My brother did technology and my sister did sports. I just thought I excelled more in arts than in other things,” Parker recalls fondly.

However, she did not hone in on photography until she enrolled in Digital Darkroom during her freshman year. Parker cites Jonathan Nast’s teaching style as an inspiration for her infatuation with photography.

“I have attempted to formulate artistic problems that allow students to think critically and creatively while presenting them with enthusiasm, patience, and experience. I also strive to establish a productive and respectful studio environment that supports personalized work,” Nast says of his teaching style. “It is a success when students develop a unique vision….and can view their work with pride and integrity.”

In June and July, two years after completing the class, Parker and 12 other teenagers travelled Iceland’s Golden Circle, a popular route that shows visitors many of the country’s most popular attractions. They captured countless moments as they hiked a glacier, snorkeled in Silfra and went whale and puffin watching.

Along the way, Parker improved her photography skills while learning new ones. “I learned how to manipulate the aperture, exposure, white balance, shutter speed and more on the camera to capture the best possible picture,” she said. “I also learned how to edit in Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as a little about the history of photography.”

Rochelle Kaper, Parker’s peer during her time in Iceland, attributed the group’s growth largely to their instructor’s teaching style, which very much mirrors Nast’s. “Instead of our instructor simply showing us how a slow shutter works, we got into the van or walked to a nearby waterfall with our tripod. It was very interactive,” Kaper said.

Parker longs to go even further in her photography career. In the month of October, she plans on entering competitions, including the More Than Words exhibition and the annual Art Slam exhibition. Both take place at the Westport Arts Center, where Parker is an active member of the Teen Arts Council, a group of local teenage ambassadors for the arts organization.

After that, the aspiring artist hopes to continue improving her skills and aspires to learn “how to capture a moment or feeling.”