GRCC student’s photo wins national honor



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


GRCC student’s photo wins national honor

March 25, 2014 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. A Grand Rapids Community College student’s photo of a child at a window received recognition in a national competition.

Grand Rapids resident Michele Brautnick was awarded an honorable mention in the 34th annual College and High School Photography Contest organized by Photographer’s Forum magazine.

Her award-winning photo started as an assignment for a GRCC photography class and stars her 2-year-old son, Oscar.

“The assignment was specifically around the topic of light — seeing it, finding it and acknowledging the effect it can have on a subject,” she said. “This was shot inside my house late in the day. The window light created a nice graphic pattern across his tiny face and gave me some great ‘catchlights’ in his big, curious eyes.”

Photography professor Chuck Heiney said the light project is a technical assignment that he gives early in the class.

“In one sense, the light assignment is to ensure students are making correct exposures with their cameras, but light can be used to go beyond merely making exposures of the scene,” he said. “When photographers begin to literally ‘see the light’ in their photography, they have made a huge step forward in the craft. Michele’s photo shows that point of release from basic exposure to seeing, responding and interpreting the scene.”

Brautnick, originally from Port Huron, moved to Grand Rapids shortly after she graduated from Ferris State University in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in visual communication. She is a freelance creative director/designer.

“I registered as a personal interest student in fall 2013 with hopes of validating what I’ve taught myself over the last two years, and wanting to learn more about workflow, technique and studio lighting,” she said.

“My three-year plan is to slowly flip my design business into a commercial photography studio. With the shooting skills I’m gaining at GRCC and my years of experience as a designer, I feel good about making that a reality.”

Heiney said he finds it especially rewarding to work with “nontraditional” students such as Brautnick.

“Michele wanted to broaden her skill set and had specific goals and needs in mind,” he said. “Nontraditional students seem to have a laser focus of knowing what they want and working hard to get to the end of the game as fast as possible.”

All the competition’s winners, honorable mentions and finalists will be featured in the book Best of College and High School Photography 2014. To see Brautnick’s photo, click here.

Students in GRCC's visual arts programs enjoy high-quality instruction in fine arts and photography courses that prepare them for transfer to four-year institutions and careers in the arts. Courses are available to complete a choice among two degree programs in art and two degree programs in photography. GRCC's visual arts programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Students work in a variety of disciplines, from drawing and painting, to ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, and several levels of digital and analog photography. To learn more about GRCC’s visual arts department, click here.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.