Igniting Sparks: The Series


By Noelle Doblado

With a single push of a button, the world stands still, frozen in time. A lifetime of memories is captured for eternity, determined to never be forgotten.

Seeing life through the lens of a camera opens one’s eyes to the unique ability of preserving memories and understanding the value in each moment. For Thomas Briones, the Photography teacher at SMHS, photography became his form of self-expression and the motivation behind the learning environment he has created with his passion.

Briones discovered his passion for photography as a child. Growing up, Briones received a collection of professional baby photos taken by his mother. This was an influential moment, as it inspired his first connection with a camera. “I had my life documented. So when my sister was born, I felt like I needed to document hers, so I started photographing her, now I’m doing that for her daughter,” said Briones. At 18, Briones began working in a photo studio while also volunteering at schools. When presented with the opportunity to teach a photography program at 19, he “saw it as a chance to see what it’s like to give back and push my passion onto other people to see if it sparks,” said Briones. Although Briones admires art in various forms, photography has always been his main passion. “I appreciate all forms of art. I specifically like photography because you are preserving memories. After we go, our memories and photos are the last things we have of each other. So I like documenting people and treasuring photos of themselves for life, that’s why I shoot portraits. That’s always been the driving force behind why I shoot portraits,” said Briones. As Briones relayed his passion to his students, he found that connecting with his students is vital. “I came into it to teach what I love, which is photography. But as I started teaching I realized it’s not just about photography, it’s about making connections with students” said Briones. Briones’ love for photography is evident in his classroom environment, where he has found a place to explore his passion.