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 or (417) 873-6337.

Joe Snider and his wife, Dee.

Joe Snider and his wife, Dee.


Drury students offering free portrait photography to military families

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 26, 2016 — Drury University photography students will again offer free family portraits to active duty military personnel and veterans during the week of the Veterans Day holiday. This is the sixth year for the project, which allows commercial photography students to give back to those who have served our country while also sharpening their photography skills.

Jessica Barrows

“The students benefit from being able to photograph people from a variety of backgrounds and generations while applying the technical and communication skills they’ve learned in the classroom like studio lighting, camera operation, and interacting with the people they are photographing,” says Rebecca Miller, the program chair for Art, Art History, and Arts Administration at Drury.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to meet so many veterans over the years and hear their stories about time spent serving our country and their life experiences outside the military,” Miller adds. “Whether it’s a family of 10 or a single veteran, the interaction our students have had with those who have served our country in this indispensable way has been invaluable to their educational experience. It is an honor for us to take their photographs and we thank them for their service.”

The portraits are open to the first 50 families that make a reservation. The portraits are photographed in the Pool Art Center, 940 N. Clay Ave., at the following dates and times:

Saturday, Nov. 5 – 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 8 – 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 10 – 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Saturday Nov. 12 – 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

For more information or to make a reservation, contact Rebecca Miller at (417) 873-6337 or


Drury photography students offer free family portraits to veterans

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 9, 2015 — Commercial photography students at Drury University are doing their part to thank those who have served our country by offering free portraits to military veterans and their families. The project, now in its fifth year, is led by Rebecca Miller, associate professor of Art & Art History and coordinator of the photography program at Drury.

The service is open to the first 50 families who reserve a time slot. Slots remain open at the following times and dates:

  • 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 10
  • 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12
  • 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14

To make an appointment, contact Rebecca Miller at (417) 873-6337 or

“We are so thankful for the service and sacrifices our veterans and their family members have given in support of our country and its citizens,” Miller says. “We are humbled to offer these photographs of celebration and thanks, which also provide our students with an engaged and personalized classroom experience.”

Media outlets interested in covering this project may also contact Miller to discuss the best times and dates to do so.


Media Contact: Rebecca Miller, Photography Program Coordinator. Office: (417) 873-6337; email:

Professor’s photos capture small town “relics” & celebrations

Greg Booker has a keen eye for out-of-the-way places.

The assistant professor of art and communication at Drury has for several years now been photographing and documenting everyday scenes in small – sometimes very small – towns in Missouri, Oklahoma and some southern states.

A barbershop scene in Clinton, Missouri.

A barbershop scene in Clinton, Missouri.

An exhibit of Booker’s work, titled “Small Town & Quiet Spaces” is now open at the Lightwell Gallery at the University of Oklahoma’s School of Art and Art History. The exhibit will come to Drury’s Pool Art Center this fall.

It’s a passion project that began when Booker returned to Springfield to join Drury’s faculty in 2009. Born in Chicago and raised in St. Louis, Booker earned an art degree from Drury in 1987 before moving to Oklahoma, where he earned a graduate degree in art at OU. He later landed on the photo staff of the Kansas City Star.

An abandoned storefront in Niangua, Missouri.

An abandoned storefront in Niangua, Missouri.

When he and his wife returned to the area, they bought a home outside of Marshfield. That was the first time Booker had lived in the country.

“I’m used to city life,” he says, and the change of scenery brought small and sometimes even forgotten places into focus for him. With camera in hand, he began seeking out the kind of tiny towns that are today little more than places on a map because highways passed them by or because they were simply too small to survive.

“They’re almost like relics,” Booker says. “It just seems like that was a bit of history that needed to be documented, so it was a chance for me to explore the small towns and document them.”

A four-way stop in the heart of Houston, Missouri.

A four-way stop in the heart of Houston, Missouri.

Booker later began shooting the larger but still small towns where people live, work and play. He’s captured celebrations like parades and fall festivals and everyday moments in local shops and sidewalks – the “places where the community can come together and celebrate their heritage, their small towns and their neighbors,” he says.


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations.

Students study future of genetics by examining their own past

DNA tells a story – a story about one’s past and, potentially, about one’s future.

A group of Drury science students learned more about their own genetic past this semester, and in the process learned important lessons about the future of medicine.

Twenty-four students in Dr. Roger Young’s advanced molecular genetics class took samples of their own spit before the class began and sent it to a company called 23andMe, which provides ancestry-related genetic reports for a fee. These reports, called genotypes, can help people generally understand their ancestry and also identify certain traits and health risks.

Just a few years ago, this testing was highly expensive, Young says. Today it can be done “for less than 100 bucks, which is incredible,” he says. That cost trajectory means genetic profiles will soon be an essential – and common – part of the medical industry.

“It seemed like a natural step forward to take this kind of modern business model and apply it to an academic setting,” Young says.

The students learned they each carry some Neanderthal DNA. They learned they might be pre-disposed to certain health conditions or be carriers for diseases that could manifest themselves in their children, if their partners are also carriers. The results largely remained private amongst the students, but it forced them to think about what they’ll do with the information.

“There’s the raw interpretation of the data, then there’s the philosophy and ethical implications of what you do with that information,” Young says.

In Drury’s typical liberal arts fashion, connections were drawn to other disciplines. Philosophy professor Dr. Chris Panza and a genetic counselor from CoxHealth spoke to the class about philosophical and ethical impacts. And the students even entered – and won – a photo contest with 23andMe. Titled “Human Karyotype,” the photo was of 23 of the students lying on the ground representing both the number and the shape of the 23 human chromosomes.

“Human Karyotype," by Drury student Ashleigh Spalding. The photo depicts Spalding's 23 classmates posing as human chromosomes.

“Human Karyotype,” by Drury student Ashleigh Spalding.

The students used a $300 prize from the contest to hold an event on campus and spoke to about 100 people about the process of genetic testing, condensing their 15-week journey into about a 15-minute presentation.

“A fair number of these students are going into the medical field on some level, and because genetics will be ubiquitous in a decade or less, these students will be prepared to understand this, and teach other people about it,” Young says. “When they sit for their MCATs or medical school interviews, they’ll be able to talk on a knowledgeable level about the future of medicine.”


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. 

Disabled veterans get free photos from Drury students

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 10, 2011 —The Department of Art & Art History and Photography Studies are providing free family portraits for Disabled American Veterans around the area. The sessions are available to the first 50 families that make a reservation. Rebecca Miller, Associate Professor and Photography Program Coordinator, organized the event and her students provide the photography skills.

The idea for the service was sparked in the spring of 2011 from a report on NBC’s Nightly World News from their “Making a Difference” segment. Photographers in Atlanta were offering similar service, and this inspired Miller to get Drury University involved. The contributions that the Drury community has made have allowed the portraits to be cost-free.

“I wanted to give something back to those who have sacrificed so much for our country and freedoms,” Miller said.

Photography sessions are available on the following days:

Saturday, Nov. 12

Tuesday, Nov. 15

Thursday, Nov. 17

Saturday, Nov. 19

For reservations, call Miller at (417) 873-6337 or e-mail her at

Media Contact: Rebecca Miller, Associate Professor of Art & Art History,  Office: (417) 873-6337, E-mail: