Student photographing deputy.
In total, students took 1200 photographs of the Mesa County Sheriff's Office staff in three days.


Learning through the lens

Photographing 200 deputies for their professional portraits is no easy task, but it is a great learning experience.

Forrest Zerbe, lecturer of art, was contacted by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office Information and Communication Manager Megan Terlecky. She was looking for help in getting portraits for the entire sheriff’s department. Zerbe knew this would be a large undertaking but also knew the hands-on experience would be great for the students in his 400-level advanced photography and studio lighting course.

“This project was able to demonstrate all the working parts of a professional portrait studio,” Zerbe said.

During the course of three days, Zerbe instructed and guided two of his students through the first phase of taking professional portraits: how to set-up the background, lights and camera; to pay attention to the tilt of a person’s head and position of their body; wrinkles in clothing; and other details.

“Each of the photos need to be consistent and we took one smiling and one not for each deputy,” Zerbe said.

In total, the students took more than 1,200 photos.

For the second half of the project, Zerbe and his students spent two weeks editing each photo before giving the final portraits to the sheriff’s office.

“We are very excited to partner with CMU for this project. This gave us an opportunity to have professional photos of all of our deputies while giving CMU students real-world experience,” said Terlecky. “As you know, we partner with WCCC for the Peace Officers Academy. We know how valuable hands-on learning is and are happy we were able to help further the education of these talented photographers. We look forward to partnering with CMU more in the future.”

This was the first time Zerbe has assigned a project like this to his class but may look into something similar for next semester, he said.

“It was a great opportunity for my students because they got real, hands-on professional experience, which is a marketable skill,” said Zerbe. “And the students seemed to appreciate this experience.”

Media Contact

David Ludlam, Director of Public Relations

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