Photography Club Empowers Students’ Creativity

Student photographers find community.

Photography club was re-established right after the pandemic began last year. 
Photo: Autumn Webster via Photography Club

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and it can reveal a new world outside of our own. The Photography Club is a place at CU Denver where members can enjoy and express themselves in all things photography. 

Shana Cruz Thompson is the president of the Photography Club, and she would call herself a “non-traditional” senior student. She is a photography major and has her own company called Shana Cruz Thompson Photography. Thompson has been shooting professionally since 1993, all while being a parent of five children and balancing home, school, and work at the same time. Since coming to CU Denver, having the opportunity to be exposed to the art community has helped influence her work and has inspired her to reopen her nonprofit organization called Project Photo O. She started it back in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, but now reintroduced it to the Denver community; their work includes photography workshops and education for youth in Denver.  

“Over quarantine, when it first started, I noticed a lot of kids including my own were bored and had nothing to do,” said Thompson. Thompson wanted to bring in art as a way for people to express themselves joyfully. After she graduates, she is planning to dedicate her full time into this project.  

When Thompson started going to CU in 2018, she said there was strong membership in the Photography Club, but when all the seniors left, it came to a standstill. So, she and a group of friends decided it was time to restart the Photography Club again. Right before COVID hit, they had their first meeting to decide for positions and what they wanted the Photography Club to be. Since being quarantined, they wanted to keep the club going, but the club wasn’t official until this year. Despite not being able to do the same types of activities together, they wanted to bring back that sense of community and have a place where people can just talk about photography. “It’s just a fun place to connect over Zoom and have a place to talk about all things photography, and our personal work and even just vent,” said Thompson. The Photography Club is a place where people who have a passion for all things photography can come talk to new people and even get their work critiqued without having the worry of it being graded.  

Not all the members that are a part of the Photography Club are photography majors or professionals. Many of them are students from different majors and backgrounds, and club members encourage students to join even if they only take photos on their phones. The club also tries to give their members many opportunities to be creative through entering contests, collaborating with different organizations, having artist speakers come talk, and even mentioning scholarships as well. Photography Club works towards creating a safe space for everyone, celebrating their differences and creative thoughts. Currently, the club is working on planning a physical show where students share their pictures and projects with one another.  

“There is a lot of empowerment in photography and there is a lot of empowerment in the creative process and we just want to share that as much as possible,” said Thompson. 

This is a selection from the March 17 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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