Student Art Spotlight: Gabriella Ward


Photo courtesy of Gabriella Ward.

WCHS senior Gabriella Ward enjoys taking her pictures outdoors.

By Ela Jalil, Editor-in-Chief

Armed with her trusty Canon T6, the camera she received for her 13th birthday, WCHS senior Gabriella Ward can often be found outdoors, taking inspiration from nature for her photoshoots.  

Ward first began photography when she was 12 years old for her school yearbook, and has been taking photography at WCHS since her freshman year. 

“I just like the freedom because there’s so many different types of photography that you can really get into your own niche of what your thing is in photography,” Ward said. “So mine is kind of like bird pictures and nature-based pictures.”

Now a senior and an AP Photography student, Ward is a part of a class of four that works to create a portfolio centered around a topic of their interest, Ward’s being nature photography. This portfolio, made up of 20 photographs, is the product of a year-long investigative process into the students chosen topic and is sent in May to be graded on a 1-5 scale by the College Board. 

“[It’s] narrowed down from like, 100 Photo 1 students to like the four of us. So we’re all friends and we all know each other,” Ward said. “And we all do photoshoots together when we do assignments.”

Ever since Photo 2 sophomore year, WCHS senior Mason Goldstein has been in photography with Ward. Goldstein admires Ward’s patience and dedication towards getting the perfect shot, and has seen her photography evolve beautifully. 

“Throughout photo we’ve done projects on every type of photography and now AP has been more free lanced and we can take photos on the stuff we want to focus on, and seeing Gabriella focus more on nature photography and capturing animals in their habitats has been really cool to see,” Goldstein said. 

Ward’s favorite set of photos that she has taken are the ones of swans last year. These images were displayed in the 2021 WCHS Art Show, and will be included in her portfolio.

“The swan photos were just really good luck. We were staying at a house directly on the Potomac River for Thanksgiving, and then my family and I saw a group of swans right next to shore. I grabbed my camera and ran outside and began taking photos,” Ward said. “I got really lucky with those photos because they showed up in the late afternoon when the lighting was dramatic and helped to make the backgrounds look better.” 

Through the WCHS Photography Club, Ward has been able to share her knowledge with interested students through workshops and informational sessions. Starting as a freshman, Ward found a welcoming community and has moved through the ranks to now be the club Co-President. 

“I love how the photo club is a community of people who genuinely love photography and all want to help each other improve,” Ward said. “I also really like being able to help other members to improve their own skills by teaching them new skills and the basics of photography.”

Ever since Photo 1, Ward stood out to WCHS Photography teacher Amy Gilbert, both for the time she put into her assignments and the enjoyment she derived from her craft. Noting her consistency and tenacity, Gilbert admires how Ward puts everything she has into perfecting her image. 

“Tenacity. She got those swan pictures because she sat there for like two hours taking and practicing and waiting for that moment to capture exactly what she wanted, and that is what makes a real photographer- putting in the time and really experimenting and trying until you get what you’re looking for,” Gilbert said. “And I see that in her a lot.”

From having her work showcased at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) to being one of 10 finalists in the Mid-Atlantic Photo Visions competition, Ward has generated a growing audience for her work. Although Ward is pursuing engineering in college, she still plans on continuing her passion for photography through art classes and other ventures. 

“I just hope she continues to push herself because I think that she has an amazing eye and the more she practices just the more amazing it’s going to get,” Gilbert said.