Drury students offer veterans free portrait photos this month

Drury University photography students are again taking portraits of veterans and their families, free of charge, this November.

The project began several years ago as a way of giving back to those who have served our country while also allowing commercial photography students to hone their studio skills.

Jessica Barrows 2

Jessica Barrows and her two children

Abraham Clark, who was in the Marine Corps for 10 years in the 1960s and 70s and served in Vietnam, is a repeat customer – he’s been getting his photo taken by Drury students for a few years now.

“I’m about to run out of poses,” he jokes.

Clark says he finds the Drury students to be professional and kind. He enjoys getting to know them during the shoots, especially international students. He wishes more veterans would take up the opportunity.

Abraham Clark

Abraham Clark

“The thing about photos is they’re memories for families for a long time,” he says. “Sometimes we don’t do this, and then later the family doesn’t have anything to look back on. So I think it would be great if people took advantage of this for their families.”

The shoots begin on Saturday and run through next weekend. There are 50 slots available. Rebecca Miller is Drury’s Art, Art History & Arts Administration program chair and organizes the event, though students ultimately run the shoots.

“The students are on their own to take the photographs and solve any challenges that may come up like lighting, posing, energetic children, or even crying babies,” she says. “A lot of the time I’ll be working in my office making a family’s CD of the images and I hear a lot of laughter coming from the studio, which is always a wonderful moment. Many times I’ve stood outside the studio and just observed our students interacting with the community members and they always delight me with their abilities to solve problems, be professionals, and work together as a team.”

Cody Stepp was one of those students last year. He graduated in May with a degree in graphic design and visual communication. He says the candid shots in which veterans let some of their personality out were the most challenging, but also the most enjoyable.

“It helps engage you as a photographer because you’re investing in these people because they’re opening up a side of themselves to you,” Stepp says.

For example, Clark has worn Native American ceremonial clothing to reflect his heritage. Joe Snider, a 1953 Army draftee who served in Korea, sported a cowboy hat last year.

“That’s my uniform,” says Snider, who has family roots in rural Wyoming. “That’s what I wear. I’m a western man.”

Clark appreciates the opportunity for the portrait, but says he thinks the students get just as much out of the experience.

“Everybody has a different exposure, a different experience,” he says. “So I think it’s good when you put all of these people together. It’s good exposure for the kids.”

For more information or to make a reservation, contact Miller at rmiller01@drury.edu or (417) 873-6337.

Joe Snider and his wife, Dee.

Joe Snider and his wife, Dee.

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