The Creation of Smaug, a reflection by Betsy Mansfield

Working with Ms. Wash’s class at the School for Creative Studies was an adventure to say the least. The class had so much personality and energy and it was always a great wake up when we went in at 9am. My group consisted of four boys who had a fair bit of energy but also had a huge amount of creativity, which was a lot of fun. Rambunctious is the best way to describe them. While they sometimes liked to focus more on acting out the scenes from Robin Hood, rather than pose for the photos, whenever they got behind the camera they became serious and focused. Overall the experience was a great time, and each student’s picture was so expressive. The amount of creativity each student had was remarkable, and it was really fun to see all of the photos come together. However, there was one that really stands out in my mind regarding both the process and the end product.

Literacy Through Photography (LTP) is all about creativity and promoting it within the classroom, and this project definitely called for a heavy dose of it. When Justice first told me he wanted his character to be Smaug, from The Hobbit, I was a little doubtful. I was unsure about the success we would have with illustrating a character portrait of a dragon; not only was his character not human, it was a mythical creature that was supposed to be huge, have wings, and breathe fire. Needless to say we had our work cut out for us.


Working with the available props and his imagination, Justice explained what he wanted and direct his group mates into position. It turned out remarkably well. He captured both the size of the character and the fear that he induces in others. The picture is expressive and illustrative, but I think my favourite part of this piece is the writing that goes along with it. Justice is extremely smart and very talented, and that definitely shows in this piece of work. His narration that went along with the piece really added to it. It told a story, and didn’t just narrate the photo. With his writing you could tell that Justice really understood the essence of the character. He was able to convey confidence and strength as well as he secrecy and territoriality that the character possesses. The added dialogue enhances the writing by adding to the story and showing us what the character is thinking. LTP isn’t for everyone- others struggle with the creative photo side or the writing side, but for Justice it was perfect. He had an outlet for creativity, which allowed him to narrate and illustrate something incredible. Both his picture and writing were very strong and very powerful. Justice was not the exception in Ms. Wash’s class, but the norm; every student was excited and passionate about their work. When we started this project I was excited to see the end results, in my mind I thought of the illustrations I would make from my favourite book characters, little did I know that I would be so moved and amazed by the incredible work put out by the students.

For more on this project click here

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