Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

December 6, 2012

A Jeweler, Photographer, Animal Lover

Teen runs camera club, makes jewelry benefiting MSPCA

By Dustin Luca
Staff Writer

---- — Alex Martin started a camera club to teach kids her age how to use a camera. Her gear was financed by a hobby that also benefited the MSPCA.

The 13-year-old Wood Hill Middle School student admits that she has issues remembering what shutter-bug terms like “ISO” mean, but the blurry photos she sees popping up from her friends on Facebook are much less forgivable.

“That’s the thing that annoys me the most,” she said, laughing. “I think focus is the biggest problem for a lot of people.”

Two years ago, Alex capped off her fifth-grade year as editor-in-chief of Hawk Talk, High Plain Elementary School’s newly-created student newspaper, by picking up another hobby.

“I started making jewelry during the summer,” she said. “I sold it to my friends at the school and some of my teachers.”

While making regular donations to a local MSPCA animal shelter, Alex said the hobby has raised upwards of $1,000 for her. Of the $1,000 collected, $600 of that went to a Nikon D-3100 she wanted after trying a similar digital SLR camera her mother owned.

After that, “I kind of just played around with it and learned how to use it,” she said.

Stuff like “shutter speed” — how quickly a camera opens and closes its lens — and ISO — how sensitive a camera is to light — equate to better looking shots, she said. Though she hasn’t mastered how to use them in union, she’s helping other students at Wood Hill understand more basic camera concepts.

The club meets every Monday after school for one hour. Most of the time, she explains how to focus a camera, when to use a flash, how to adjust a camera for different brightness situations and more.

This past week, the club hiked around the woods outside the school and tested shooting for texture, or how to show relief on flat objects as if they weren’t flat, she said.

As the club’s members walked around, two of them used an iPad and iPhone. New technology like the smartphone or tablet PC changes photography “in a bad way,” she said.

“More people go for the things that do different things, instead of cameras that do one thing,” she said.

Suffice it to say that, while a phone may have an 8-megapixel camera built into it, using it doesn’t constitute photography. Only real cameras do that.

But even then, “I know how to use them pretty well,” she said. “I know how to make (smartphone photos) look better using the focus than they do.”

Alex’s mother Sheri Martin said her daughter’s energy to work with jewelry and photograph was done “all by herself. She just thinks of things and runs with them.”

She even did her own homework when choosing what brand of camera gear to buy, something heavily debated by photographers around the world.

“I research everything I want to get,” Alex said.

“She drives us nuts doing it too,” her mother added.

In January, Alex hopes to do more with jewelry. She’s slated to teach a jewelry class for High Plain Elementary School students starting in January.

Until then, the shutter-buggery will continue.

To view Alex Martin’s jewelry website, visit www.willowjewelryonline.com.