The story behind the pictures

May 4, 2015

Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     “I liked cameras and the thought of what they could do,” John Scialdone, junior, says, as he sits down at the desk, brimming with energy.
      Scialdone has been fascinated by photography since he was in eighth grade. High school opened many doors for Scialdone; he began taking Photo classes provided at the school taught by teacher Joanne Ross.
      “He’s very creative and he’s very adventurous with his photography,” Ross said, “He’s very devoted to his photography.”
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
Scialdone is the Chief Photographer for The Glen Echo and photographs many school events.
“I take photos for the school once or twice a week,” Scialdone says, as he looks around quickly, his head always turning from point to point as if constantly searching for a new shot. “It all depends on the activities the school has going on.”
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     Not only does Scialdone photograph school events, he also spends a lot of his time taking photos for his own personal enjoyment.
     “I think that John’s individuality is something that really contributes to his abilities as a photographer,” said junior and photographer Caitlin Pfeiffer, “He is unlike anyone I’ve ever met and you can see how well he portrays his personality into his work.”
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     The homecoming field was filled with many different people: the athletes were clad in their uniforms, warming up on the sidelines, jogging lightly, while the coaches paced nervously from the benches to their players and officials.
     School Principal John Arlotta was on the field, looking up at the bleachers filled with fans, the high school marching band, and a contingent of screaming high schoolers.
     John Scialdone was also on the field, and he was, odd for his character, incredibly quiet and focused. His eye was trained instead on angles, shots, and frames.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     October 25, 2014 was a warm day in mid-fall, the sun making the field seem like it was summer again. The team from Harrison was downfield, preparing themselves to attempt to ruin Glen Rock’s homecoming day.
     Scialdone captured the game tirelessly, amassing a roll of 300 pictures before halftime.
     He liked the privilege that he had, being on the field when all of his friends were in the stands. He liked feeling as if he wasn’t just in the front row — he was part of the action.
     “To capture a great photo,” Scialdone says, “one must have a great attention to detail.”
     He was a picture of focus that day, emulating a professional on the sidelines with his camera.
     “I am used to shooting fast paced situations with a lot of action. And with football being one of my favorite sports,” he said, “this was a fun game to shoot.”

Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     Scialdone believes that action is his specialty so a shoot like this came naturally to him.
     As the game began, Scialdone waited excitedly, talking to other local photographers. Scialdone was one of the youngest photographers there.
     Being the first home game of the season, Scialdone was just as eager as the rest of the fans up in the bleachers.
     “During the course of the game I was granted access to the side of the field [during the game] and on the field before the game started.”
     Scialdone anxiously set up his equipment and waited for the game to begin, watching the players warm up.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     The game started off, the sun was beating down on the field. Scialdone noted the natural light and the openness of the field.
     “Keep close attention of the change in light to keep your exposure where it should be metered,” said Scialdone, explaining his thought process at the time.
     The first ball was snapped across the field, Scialdone took a shot, paying close attention to the light.
     Scialdone followed the action up and down the field, following the ball wherever it went, following its every move and watching every set of hands it fell into.
     Scialdone used a Canon 60D, a Canon 75-300mm Telephoto Lens and a Canon 18-135mm Lens for this game. This equipment was all Scialdone has access to, however it was the best for this purpose.
     Shot after shot, Scialdone was proud of every photograph he took.
     “There’s one shot of Brady [Miller] running with the ball with two players from Harrison in the background,” Scialdone said, “It has a lot of action, and who doesn’t love Brady?”

Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     The fall breeze was beginning to pick up as the game was reaching its last few minutes. Scialdone took every photograph he could, snapping pictures left and right.
     He waited patiently for the perfect shot.
     “I was looking for photos with a lot of action and liveliness to bring out the action of the game.”
     As the game came to a conclusion, Scialdone found himself with 600 photos ranging from action shots to still photos of the players.
     Scialdone looked through the pictures vigorously; the process of choosing the best ones began. His main goal when choosing which pictures would be featured on The Glen Echo was that they told the story of the game: the action, the excitement.
     “I went through them, picked the best, edited those and had 18 at the end.” Of his 600 photographs, only 3 percent made the cut.
     Junior Josh Stein also does similar work to Scialdone, however Stein does film as opposed to still photos.
     “I film some events,” Stein says, “John does more photo and photography, I do more video stuff for the school.”
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     Music playing in the background, Scialdone was soon faced with other task. Glen Rock was hosting their annual Rock House performance at the Elks Club in Ridgewood, NJ.
     Bands and performers were setting up their equipment just as Scialdone was preparing his.
     Scialdone, whose father is a musician, was enthusiastic to watch his friends perform but also to have the privilege to photograph them as well.
     However, this time he was not alone, fellow student and photographer Caitlin Pfieffer was giving Scialdone a hand on this event.
     Pfeiffer was excited to work with Scialdone on this project. The two have taken Photography classes together and were eager to collaborate.
     “There wasn’t much of a need to ‘divide’ the work because we both had different styles to bring to the coordinator in the end,” Pfeiffer said.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     As the first performer stepped on stage, Scialdone lined up his first shot.
     “I placed myself behind an amp where the light was perfectly angled on the subjects.”
     The music continued as Scialdone quickly flipped through the photographs he had already taken, moving around the stage searching for the perfect shot.
     The process for Rock House was different than that of Homecoming. Scialdone’s subject was still for the most part and required a lot less precision.
     “At Rock House the light from the lights was not as powerful as the natural light at the homecoming game, so I forced myself to use flash,” said Scialdone.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     The event was nearing the end, and Scialdone was nonetheless ecstatic about the photographs he had captured.
     “After I take my photos, I import them to Adobe Light Room for post-production editing,” he said.
     Scialdone had taken 400 photos of the performers at Rock House and after editing them, he picked out 9 that were to be featured on The Glen Echo. A 2.25 percent success rate.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     A plethora of talented students awaited their turn at the microphone under the bright spot light. Scialdone sat in the audience with his friends, though he wasn’t just there to enjoy the poetry readings and the music.
     Scialdone holds his camera, chatting with his friends while waiting for the first performer.
     “The Coffee house event was a slower paced event, more relaxed,” Scialdone said.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     The overhead lights went off and the spotlights were shining bright. Scialdone lined up his first shot, found the perfect angel and the exact amount of light, and quickly clicked the shutter button on the top of his camera.
     “Framing tells the story.” Scialdone knows very well the exact angels and light needed to capture a photo that is worth a thousand words.
     Performer after performer, Scialdone had taken about 250 photos, becoming more and more proud after each shot.
      With every photo Scialdone takes, it’s clear the desire that he has.
     “Every one of John’s pictures reflects how much he loves photography and the passion he has for it,” fellow photographer Jessica Giardino, junior, said.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     Scialdone paced the floor of the school’s cafeteria, trying different angles and changes in light, with a cup of coffee in hand.
     “Straight on from the back of the cafeteria and off to the side a little bit is the best place for capturing photos,” Scialdone said.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     Everything was going seemingly well, Scialdone had captured some great photos and was enjoying the evening, the words of students original poetry was buzzing through Scialdone’s ears as he zoomed in on senior Tim Mountain.
     “This ones my favorite because it’s very artsy and captures the energy very well,” said Scialdone.
    Scialdone’s coffee cup was empty, the cafeteria was clearing out, only a few people hanging around as the performance ended. Scialdone flipped through the 300 photos he had taken.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     Scialdone, sitting at his computer, picked out his favorite photos from the evening. He strenuously shuffled through his pictures.
     Ross explained John’s skill with the following: “It’s his creative way of looking at things and the fact that he’s also an active person.”
    Scialdone opened photoshop and edited his favorites. By the time he was done, Scialdone found himself with just 12 perfect photos from all different angles.
    “John’s greatest strength is his use of Photoshop. He really takes advantage of the abilities offered to him through that program and transforms his photographs into something really unique,” Pfeiffer said.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     The stage curtains opened and the spotlight shined down on the stage. Scialdone held his camera against his eye, attempting to capture the ideal lighting.
     “With the play, it’s hard to move around without making noise or being in someone’s view,” Scialdone said.
     Scialdone sat in his seat, camera still in hand; he started capturing the first couple of minutes of the show in a few frames.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     He began anxiously waiting for the perfect beam of light to strike the stage, “The lighting [in the auditorium] is very minimal compared to the cafeteria,” Scialdone says. “With the plays, the lighting will always be a certain way, and with the cafeteria you have more free room to roam around and there’s brighter lights.”
     The play continued, Scialdone did his best attempting to change the angles on some of his photos granted he was unable to roam freely throughout the auditorium.
     “My favorite photo was of Jack and Olivia, which was Pip meeting Miss Havisham for the first time,” Scialdone said.
     This photo represents the play well, has an eye-catching angle and expresses the perfect amount of light.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     Scialdone continued to scan the stage, waiting for a shot that would take his breath away.
     “I was looking for action and movement,” Scialdone said.
     With every movement on stage, he tried to capture the whole show in still photos.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     “John is a very good photographer, the photos he produces are really good,” says Josh Stein who has worked as a cameraman for the school. “I admire his work and the outcome of his work.”
     The lights on the stage began to brighten, it was intermission and Scialdone looked through the photos he had already taken.
     Pleased, Scialdone thought to himself which of this photos he may considering using when the entire play was over.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
“I took a total of 400 photos,” said Scialdone with a smile on his face.
Scialdone yet again opened photoshop and edited the photos he found best fit. Sitting at his desk with his lap shining brightly down on his computer, Scialdone was excited to see what he had captured from the evening.
Editing the photos is one of Scialdone’s favorite parts of the photography process. Experimenting with photoshop and seeing how he can bring his photos to the next level.
“He uses really professional editing techniques,” said fellow photographer Jessica Giardino.
Scialdone used 10 photos from the performance to be featured on The Glen Echo.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     Mid-February rolled around and Scialdone was asked to photograph the school’s performance of Beauty and the Beast.
     Preparing to photograph and enjoy the classic Disney musical, Scialdone was looking forward to his next task.
     “It was very exciting and energetic,” he said.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     The first scene of the play began as Scialdone sat anxiously in his seat.
     Although Scialdone was unable to walk freely, he used the angles at his disposal to capture the musical.
     “I was really trying to capture the characters and the essence of the musical,” Scialdone said.
     Scene by scene, Scialdone truly did capture the essence of the musical.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     “I had two favorite characters to shoot: Tog, because he’s very energetic and a lively character on stage,” Scialdone said, “and Blythe with her dress and assorted wardrobe.”
     Scialdone held his camera, turning his head all around the auditorium. He tapped his foot along to the songs, waiting for the light to hit perfectly.
     “Beauty and the Beast had various scene changes making the background different,” said Scialdone. This caused the lighting to change frequently which meant Scialdone had to adapt to this change.
     Scialdone edited 20 photos using Light Room. Scialdone was focusing on truly capturing the characters in these shots.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     Scialdone spends a lot of free time doing his own photography alongside the photos he takes for school activities.
     Recently, Scialdone decided to photograph his friend Stephen Mawker’s Jeep.
     The two came up with the idea one day and began the process soon after.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     “I used wide angle lenses and we had to set up the car in the desired way,” Scialdone said.
     The two moved around Glen Rock and Ridgewood looking for perfect places for the photos, attempting to capture the beauty of the car.
     “My main focus was to really make the car look cool,” he said.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
     Ross said, “It really is a lot about being active and moving around and using your physical self to get places.”
     The natural light helped Scialdone tremendously, helping execute the exact photos that Scialdone wanted.
     Despite the shoot simply being for fun, he looked through the 50 total photos he took and edited 11.
Photo Credit: John Scialdone
“Every one of John’s pictures reflects how much he loves photography,” Giardino said.
With every photo Scialdone takes, it is apparent how much he loves the art of photography and how much every shot he takes means to him.
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  • Marie and John scialdoneMay 6, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Impressive ,Wow!,Keep at it !

  • Adel KleimanMay 6, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    He is so talented and the school is lucky to have him on their staff. He will do well in college and in his future.