By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
When Elizabeth Russell, a McNary High School junior, was given a photography assignment with the theme of “reflection” earlier this year, she came up with a unique take.
She took her 13-year-old sister, Nicole, out into a field on a sunny day and took a picture of her looking at herself in a large mirror. Then, with a bit of Photoshop magic, she superimposed that image over one of a gray day at the Oregon Coast.
“Until we all saw that, it wasn’t something anyone was thinking of,” said Todd Layton, McNary’s graphic arts and photography instructor. “Pretty soon everyone else in the class was trying something similar.”
Earlier this month, another portrait Russell took of her sister won Best of Show in the McNary High School art show at the Keizer Art Association.
Russell said she enjoys working with her sister more than anyone else.
“She’s been a fun model to work with. My friends feel critiqued when they model for me, but she feels like I’m dolling her up,” said Russell. “I like capturing her happiness and the seriousness she can portray.”
Russell began taking pictures before she landed in Layton’s photography classes.
“I like looking back on the places I’ve been and I think places and people are beautiful,” she said.
However, her work took on a new life once she was enrolled in an actual class.
“I was forced to take pictures and that made me spend more time thinking about the pictures I took,”Russell said. “I started focusing on getting the best picture.”
Layton had high hopes for Russell’s entry in the art show.
“She’s got a good eye, but she sometimes lacks confidence. For me, the art show award was the greatest thing ever. She needed that recognition,” Layton said.
For Russell, who was out of town on the day the awards were announced, the award came as a surprise.
“I was sitting in my aunt’s house when I got a text. I was super happy and very excited. Mr. Layton has told me I’m a good photographer, but I always thought that was just him saying it,” Russell said.