FARMINGTON —Jessica Curley sat on a bench, surrounded by fellow classmates. Some of her classmates pointed cameras at her, while others held up large, white poster boards and a shiny car windshield shade.

"If I turn her into the sun, what's going to happen?" said Tony Bennett, a photography teacher at San Juan College.

To demonstrate his point, he had Curley turn into the sun. Predictably, she squinted.

Four of Bennett's spring semester photography classes will be displaying their photos at the Daily Times community center starting Friday. A reception will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Some of the students had hardly touched a camera before the semester started, while others had experience shooting.

One of the students, Nina Vivar, had worked in a studio, which she said taught her how to take certain shots but not how to work her camera and adjust settings like shutter speed and aperture.

Taking photos with the class presented challenges studio shooting did not, she said.

"We have to think about it before taking the picture," Vivar said.

The class has provided Vivar with the opportunity to experiment with different techniques.

"It's our photography," she said. "It's our pictures."

As Bennett walked down a hallway at San Juan College, he pointed out a photo taken by student Brenda Porras that looks through the spiral binding of a notebook.


Porras, who is in one of Bennett's digital photography class, said she likes to photograph simple objects like notebooks. A lot of her photos have abstract elements.

"I like to find non-perspective," she said.

Porras had limited photo experience before taking the class and said she is using it fulfill one of her elective credit requirements. While she plans to transfer to New Mexico State University to study Spanish, Porras said she will probably always use the skills she learned in the photography class, even if it is only to take vacation pictures.

In addition to learning how to take pictures, the digital photography class also learned basic Photoshop skills. One assignment the students have is to fix old, damaged family photos.

Curley brought in photos that had been severely water damaged. The color from one photo had leaked through to another photo and ran downwards, creating yellow streaks.

Curley pulled up the original damaged photo and her repaired photo, displaying them side-by-side on the computer screen.

"That's actually my mom when she was in middle school," she said.

Bennett said repairing pictures, like Curley did to her mother's photo, can be one way for photographers to earn money. A repair job can cost around $60, he added.

While Bennett teaches the students Photoshop, he tries not to make it the focus of his class.

"We're not a Photoshop class, we're a photo class," he said.

Hannah Grover can be reached at; 505-564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover