”The pictures we make now are artifacts of this time. Photography can be a game changer in discovery or creating social change. It allows us to pause and reflect on important events in our lifetime and around the world.
High School, Photography
Advisor Class of 2022
By Stacy Yuen
Teaching through a camera lens and seeing things “click” for her students is a rewarding privilege, according to Alison Beste.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, Beste moved to Hawaiʻi teaching at Mokapu Elementary School. She obtained a master’s degree in Visual Art from Lesley University College of Art and Design (formerly Art Institute of Boston) and taught photography for 12 years at Assets School before arriving at Mid-Pacific.
“I was ready for a change to a school with a bigger arts program,” Beste explains. “The emphasis here on meeting students where they are and encouraging them to own who they are, as well as fostering a passion and appreciation for the arts is really exciting to me.”
Growing up in Philadelphia, Beste’s passion for photography began in the 9th grade using her father’s Canon AE-1.
“I started with film,” she explains. “Each format brings something different to the table. But I’m a firm believer that if you have something to say, the format doesn’t matter.”
And neither does the equipment.
“These days, most people have a camera in their back pocket – their cell phone,” she explains. “Everyone is a photographer now. The challenge is moving beyond a snapshot to creating an image that says something important or shares something about ourselves.”
Beste has always enjoyed working with young people, and has worked with the National Geographic Student Expeditions program, leading photojournalism students on assignment out of the classroom into the world to places like London and the Australian Outback.
Whether her students at Mid-Pacific aspire to become professional photographers or simply want to learn how to operate a camera, she hopes photography can inspire and empower them to express themselves.
“There’s a piece of ourselves in every picture that we make,” she explains. “There’s an element of bravery when students put themselves out there with their work.”
Rising to the educational challenges during the pandemic, Beste’s students undertook a project called “Covid Chronicles” exploring what they saw and felt when the pandemic first started.
“We used pictures to explore everything from masks to ‘we are closed signs,’ to things we are grateful for,” she says. “The pictures we make now are artifacts of this time. Photography can be a game changer in discovery or creating social change. It allows us to pause and reflect on important events in our lifetime and around the world.”