Since grade 7, I have joined the photography team continued to develop my passion for photography. Through my role as the director of the photography team in grade 11, I have become a stronger person, which is also what a CAS project aims to do: develop skills, initiative, and perseverance in a person. The CAS project also involves collaboration between a group of students or with members of the wider community.
Investigating + Planning
I was the director of the team at the end of the previous school year, therefore I had the opportunity throughout the summer to plan out and prepare the team for the start of the school year. One of the questions that I asked myself over the summer, and still ask myself today is: “What is the role of the director?”
One of the questions that I asked myself over the summer, and still ask myself today is: “What is the role of the director?” Tim, the founder of the team, said that the director’s job is to lead, while the executives’ role is to manage. I didn’t really get it at first because leading and managing are quite similar terms. But it was throughout the year when I actually started leading the team in the next school year when I truly understood what Tim meant (see Reflection).
At the end of the summer, I figured out some of the tasks that I should be doing as a director:
- making sure the team is running well (including making sure that the executives are doing their job)
- looking ahead and thinking of the future of the team
- maintaining communication with my supervisor and major stakeholders, such as the yearbook department, school communications department
To prepare the team for next year, I started compiling the folders and documents that our team would use to store and share photos with our stakeholders next year. I also started communicating with my execs (which I have also elected before the end of the previous school year) about my own visions of the team and their expectations.
In the beginning of the school year, with the executives, I met with all the major stakeholders to get a sense of the major events that they would be happening in the school year and what the actions our team should take to accommodate to them. To plan for the year, the executives and I also met as a team to make a list of events for the year.
As the director and an executive, I often had to take charge of events. There were multiple steps to making sure an event runs smoothly.
- Knowing the details by communicating with the club/committee in charge: Even though we did meet with major stakeholders in the beginning of the year, such as the athletics department and the performing arts department, we still need to reach them time to time to get the specific details for the event, including the number of photographers needed. This is important as we want to have sufficient information for the photographers helping out with the event to avoid any confusion.
- Getting enough photographers to sign up for events: We have a google sign-up sheet where members can sign up for events. Even though it is a first come first served basis, often times we do need photographers, especially after school events. Executives would have to ask members directly for photographers to cover events, and as the director, I would need to ensure that the executives have no problem getting enough photographers. There are often times when we have problems getting enough photographers, especially when we are informed about events with only a few days notice, therefore this really tested my communication skills to make sure we could get members to cover the event and they know the details of the event.
- Getting the equipment: It is also the executives’ responsibility to get the equipment needed for the event beforehand, as most of our members do not have their own camera, and would need to borrow from the school. It is quite a demanding process with so many events happening and only a limited amount of cameras. Sometimes problems could happen when multiple events need the same equipment at the same time. Sometimes these problems could be solved by the executives, but as the director, I occasionally have to step in and help delegate the equipment fairly. In these situations, we could only distribute fewer cameras to each event, and in the worse scenarios, we would have members sharing cameras.
- Shooting the event: This is my favorite part of the event: taking the actual photos. However, as the executive in charge it is not only our job to take photos, but also to guide the newer members in gaining the experience of taking photos. We usually go over to the photographers once a while to check over their photos and suggests some areas for them to focus on to guide them in the right direction, but we have to do so in a way that would be comfortable for both of us. Sometimes, photographers would not show up, therefore if possible we would ask members on the spot if they could help cover. If not, then executives would have to fill in some of the missing spots and cover the event.
- Editing and selecting photos: Editing photos can be quite a time-consuming process, especially in the beginning of the year when we have newer members, who might not have learned how to edit photos yet, and it would be the executive in charge’s responsibility to edit those photos as well. The more senior members do edit their own photos, therefore the executive’s job to make sure the senior members would upload their photos by a certain time. Some problems that we would encounter during this stage is not having enough good quality photos, which in this case we could only choose the best ones and communicate that to our stakeholders.
- Publishing photos onto our facebook page: After collecting all the edited photos, the executive in charge would still have to select a few of the best photos in the pool of edited photos to be uploaded to facebook. As a director, it is also my role to make sure the executives upload their pictures on facebook in time.
This year, leading the team was a very different experience for me because as a passionate member in the years before, I was really engaged in taking photos for the event. But I learned that as director, I had to sometimes step back and let the younger members have the opportunity to take photos; I should not be the one doing all the work and should distribute it evenly. Yet, I believe that this would be a question that I would probably be asking throughout my whole life: how to be a leader to others.
Through this experience, I did feel my communication skills grow, and I have learned to communicate with people that I don’t usually speak to. Yet, the most important skill I have learned was communication inside the team, and this was one area I would identify as an area for improvement. I was able to keep track of executives and guide them on doing what they love to do, however sometimes they would ask me about other events that are happening on the team, and it would be then I realize that for some events not only does the executive in charge need to know about it but also the rest of the team.
Even though I have learned the importance of planning ahead, this is an area that I think I would still have to improve in, especially when working with others and asking them to get things done. I should place concrete deadlines for each stage of the process on individual events or tasks I am planning to make sure tasks are accomplished on time, and perhaps be less flexible with others.
Most importantly, this role challenged and built my time management skills. With so much time spent on organizing and overseeing lots of individual events, editing photos, and keeping the general team in shape, I really needed to balance this with the time I spend on my extracurricular activities and academics. As I am in grade 11, I would also have to emphasize on that as well. When I had too many tasks on my hands, I would ask my friends if they could temporarily help me (something I did not really do in the past), and it lead me to realize how much help I could get from the people around me.
Demonstration and Celebration
Through being in the photography team this year, we have been extremely fortunate to have some of our photos posted on the school magazine, but also the Tatler magazine. We had been able to take photos for major events such as South East Asia Student Activities Conference (SEASAC) Rugby.
The photos that we took of each would be published in the school’s yearbook that goes to every student at the end of the year. Apart from the yearbook, our team also post photos of major events on our facebook page, where we could share our moments not only with the school community but to anybody outside of our it as well, therefore we are also helping to publicize our school’s student engagement and initiative.