By Mike Corbin
There are times in life when you are especially thankful luck was on your side.
In 2005, I almost died. Thanks to some expert medical attention and a bit of luck, I recovered and was able to return to teaching junior high school art and taking pictures. Two years later, I retired from the classroom and had another piece of luck: I began working at the Spartanburg Day School.
I had known that the Day School was a special place before I began working here. My wife, Nancy, had been in place for many years and had helped transform the arts program. The youngest of our three sons, Max ‘05, joined SDS in first grade and loved the place and the people surrounding him.
I was never a gifted teacher (I tried to emulate the qualities and practices that I admired), but I could always recognize those around me that were. The Day School is chock full of gifted teachers. It has been a pleasure to walk into any one classroom and see what they are doing that day.
The entire school community is kind of amazing, really. From board members and heads of school to assistants to maintenance staff, the Day School folks that I have worked with have been tremendous at what they do.
And what they do – and what I have tried my best to do – is serve our families and students as best they can. From 3K to senior year, the transformation from childhood to maturing adolescence to beginning adulthood never ceases to amaze me. The talent, commitment and humor of our students are a recurring source of pleasure and wonderment to me. You Griffins rock!
The Spartanburg Day School campus has undergone several transformations since its founding in 1957, but perhaps none so radical as the changes that have occurred over the past 11 years. That is something else that I realize I was fortunate to witness and be a small part of.
All of this – the physical campus, the Griffin students, families, teachers, administration and staff – is what I have tried to document over the past 10-plus years in photographs for the school. From thousands of these images, more than 400 have been selected to make up the exhibit, The Last Picture Show, up now in the Mildred Harrison Dent Gallery. A closing reception will be held on Feb. 21 from 3:15-4:30 p.m.
“F/8 and Be There” is an old adage for photojournalists that, I found, can apply to almost any discipline. “F/8” is an admonition to use the aperture setting of the camera lens to capture un-posed images with acceptable sharpness and exposure. By extension, “F/8” is an admonishment to get all of the technical and compositional considerations of photography as good as I can for each picture that I take. “Be There” is analogous to the old Nike ad campaign, “Just Do It!” I have tried my best to “Be There!” to capture the Day School community over the past decade.
I hope all past and present members of the Day School community will stop by and see The Last Picture Show. Make sure to “Be There” for the closing reception. Fayssoux McLean & Friends will treat us with their music, and there will be some good eats and a picture take-away. Any of the photographs in the exhibit are yours for the taking at the conclusion of the reception. Please, take them all!
A link to an archive of the photographs in the exhibit is here. If you want a copy of any of the images not available at the conclusion of the exhibit, you can always download any of them and have a print made.
There are too many people to properly thank in this space for allowing me to just be here and for making me a part of this community. I appreciate you all.