(This is the first of two posts regarding photographing my daughter’s 8th grade class.)

As my daughter’s time at the The Waldorf School of Philadelphia winds down, I wanted to contribute something from my heart for her and her classmates–a keepsake that I hope will help remind my daughter and her seventeen classmates of the wonderful family they created together during their time at this magical school.

My daughter Ruby has gone to this Waldorf school since she was two and a half, starting in “parent/toddler” where she learned to make bread, peel apples, and knit. Waldorf is a very specific and unique philosophy started by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1900’s and has gained much attention lately due to its absence of technology in the classroom. Ironically, top execs in Silicon Valley (most notably from Apple and Google) choose to send their children to Waldorf schools as they understand the issues that arise from being exposed to technology at young ages.

In brief, Waldorf schools believe in hands on learning, being strongly connected to nature, and age appropriate education. For example, during her 4th grade block on agriculture, the entire class lived on a farm for one week participating in actual farm chores with both livestock and crops. The result: a profound and joyful connection to the land, their food, and the animals that live with us here.

Each child is unique and celebrated as such. I wanted to portray in one image the interests, passions, and dreams of these amazing adolescents. I met with the class last year to discuss the idea of a group picture that represented these things. The class was enthusiastic and dove in head first brainstorming with me. The result, one year later, is this tableau image taken in the Great Hall on their new campus – a former Frank Furness Episcopal Church built in the 1800’s.

The image will appear in the yearbook and was used as their graduation invitation. Click the image to see it larger.

Waldorf School of Philadelphia, 8th Grade Class of 2017

The idea of creating a tableau come from my art history background, having shot a tableau recently for the Pennsylvania Ballet (which can be seen HERE), and of course Vanity Fair.