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Patchogue-Medford students behind and in front of camera at prom

The Patchogue-Medford High School photography club hangs out

The Patchogue-Medford High School photography club hangs out at the senior prom on June 19, 2017 at Villa Lombardi's in Holbrook. From left: Alex Lesser, teacher Amy Cunningham, Brooke Hanson and Sarah Bennett Credit: Jennifer A. Uihlein

Upon arriving at Villa Lombardi’s in Holbrook for the senior prom Monday night, Patchogue-Medford High School students followed the bright flashes created by photographers stationed at the far end of the lobby. A single file line formed, and students posed in front of an elegant white backdrop covered in twinkling lights before heading to the mocktail hour.

This setup was created entirely by Patchogue-Medford’s photography club. And instead of photographers sent by an event-planning company, the students were behind the lens.

The photography club -- advised by teacher Amy Cunningham -- attends sporting events, awards ceremonies, fundraisers and more. This year marked the first time the club shot photos at the school’s proms.

The seniors in the club took photos for Patchogue-Medford’s junior prom festivities, held on May 19. They set up three backdrops at the high school and allowed juniors to pose together before they took coach buses to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead.

One of the backdrops included 50 handmade paper flowers. The club’s vice president, senior Alex Lesser, said the process was time-consuming but came together beautifully.

“With the paper flowers, it took us such a long time because it was a process of tracing, cutting, gluing, putting them together,” she said. “It took like two months to finish that one backdrop.”

Photography club president and senior Brooke Hanson added, "It took a lot of research trying to figure out exactly what we wanted and just making it beautiful."

At the senior prom on Monday, the roles were reversed: The juniors of the club took photos of their senior-class peers. The sparkling backdrop was a nod to the prom’s “Heavenly Night” theme.

“It’s kind of cool just being on the opposite side of the picture,” Lesser said. “We’re modeling now!”

All of the photos taken by the club are posted on their website, and students can order their prints after the event.

Cunningham said that leading up to the junior and senior proms, she’ll offer tips to her students on what to expect.

“We talk about posing, we talk about the backdrop and lighting,” she said, adding that she’s never far away and assists her students throughout the photo shoots.

Junior Sarah Bennett took plenty of photos of her friends during the senior prom, noting that the biggest challenge was making sure that everyone was paying attention and ready to say “cheese.”

“But once we got it,” Bennett said, “we got some really great pictures. I’m proud.”

Cunningham said that other class advisers have already approached her about having the photography club attend their proms to capture the special moments and glamorous looks of the evening.

And next year, Bennett will take over as president of the photography club. She welcomes this new position as she took her final AP photography course this year, and wants to continue learning from Cunningham.

“We’ve been with her for three years now,” Bennett said. “She’s definitely become family.”

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