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Picture Perfect

An ONU class project captures love one frame at a time.

At Ohio Northern University, we like to think that every class we offer will influence lives and maybe even change a few. But how many classes are truly unforgettable?
Newlyweds Jeremy, BSBA ’12, and Lauren (Lightcap) Smith, BSBA ’12, will never forget one particular photography class that ironically they weren’t even enrolled in. Last spring, the couple approached ONU staff photographer Ken Colwell for recommendations for a local photographer to take their engagement photos. Colwell, who was teaching DSGN 1101 Photography and Communication that semester, couldn’t suggest a single photographer.

But he could suggest 10.

“We didn't expect the pictures to be taken by students, but when we talked to Ken, he mentioned that it would be a great opportunity for his photography class,” says Lauren.

Colwell quickly turned the couple’s engagement photos into a class project that would offer his students an opportunity to advance quickly beyond the basics of photography. Working for a client is something that all professional photographers do, but something rarely experienced in an entry-level college course.

Launch Jeremy and Lauren's Engagement Photos

The first thing the class needed to do was learn about portrait photography techniques, which they did through a combination of formal instruction and by looking at examples online. They used the social media website Pinterest to share ideas and concepts with one another and with Jeremy and Lauren, who also shared photos they liked with the class.

The photo shoots were spread over two Saturdays and each student had 30 to 45 minutes with Jeremy and Lauren, and during that time they were able to take as many photos as they could anywhere on campus.

“We wanted to have our engagement pictures taken on campus since that's where we met,” says Jeremy.

The couple’s favorite photo was taken by Lauren Hector, a junior graphic arts major from Mount Cory, Ohio, and has special meaning.

“Jeremy proposed to Lauren in front of Lima Complex so I wanted to take a picture there. I used pink sidewalk chalk to draw hearts and had Lauren pose like she was blowing a kiss to Jeremy,” says Hector.

The couple liked that photo so much that they had another one taken on their wedding day in the same pose. They also used engagement photos for various purposes leading up to their wedding. A photo depicting the wedding date made from Scrabble pieces was their save-the-date card. The pink hearts from Hector’s photo became wedding shower invitations. And the black and white photograph of Jeremy and Lauren sitting on a blanket in front of the pond was used for the wedding invitation.

“All of our family and friends loved the pictures,” says Jeremy. “They were very impressed when they learned that the pictures were taken by photography students.”

Jeremy and Lauren were married on Dec. 1, 2012, in Farmersville, Ohio. They live in Findlay, Ohio, and both work for Marathon Petroleum Corporation. They have many of the photos hanging in their apartment, and are reminded every morning of their unique class experience when they wake up to an enlarged print of Lauren’s ring with flowers that hangs in their bedroom.