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Mississippi College

Mississippi College Photography Class Visits Windsor Ruins and Port Gibson

July 5, 2011

Cameras in hand, Mississippi College students took a scenic summer journey to Windsor Ruins, and historic Port Gibson.

The town that Northern Gen. Ulysses S. Grant declared was “too beautiful to burn,” Port Gibson was blazing hot that late June day when art professor Michael Hataway arrived with his MC  photography class.

But the experience shooting pictures of Port Gibson churches, the remnants of the Windsor plantation built in 1859-61 was worth every minute, the students say.

MC’s graphic arts coordinator and assistant chairman of the Art Department, Hataway has been taking his classes on such road trips for years.

The students’ photos will be part of a PowerPoint presentation they are preparing for his summer class.

Nursing major Beth A. Sisson, a Clinton native, captured some great pictures of a Port Gibson church that was built before the Civil War, Hataway said.

That’s high praise from the longtime educator, who was an instructor at Hinds Community College for most of his career before joining the Mississippi College faculty.

There’s nothing like learning from an excellent instructor with “his lifelong experience,” says Sisson, who lives with her husband and three dogs in Madison.

Sisson, who’s carried her Nikon cameras around for years, says she’s really improved her craft by taking the MC course in June. “Kind of makes me want to change majors,” she says with a laugh. But look for the 1997 Mississippi State University graduate to return to nursing school when fall semester classes begin in late August.

After taking Hataway’s classes and the road trip to visit Southwest Mississippi’s cultural gems, Sisson says her creative juices are really flowing. As a result, she’s learned to “not be afraid to try different techniques or perspectives.”

A senior interior design major, Ben Brummett, 35, says the class provided a number of solid tips to enhance his photography skills. A former chef who left the business after 13 years to enter the drafting and architectural design field, the Madison resident says he’s serious about stepping up his picture-taking skills.

That’s why he signed up for the Art Department class to learn more about composition and Photoshop.

The Holmes Community College graduate says he’s learned so much the past four weeks on the Clinton campus and recent field trips to photograph some of Mississippi’s treasures off the back roads. “He’s a great teacher,” Brummett says. “Mr. Hataway really loves what he does.”

Hataway has taught the digital photography class at Mississippi College for the past seven years. Students of all majors have taken the class. His course teaches students how to learn Adobe Photoshop editing skills and master the latest technology on computers.

Other trips have taken the MC photography class to places like Vicksburg, Raymond, Jackson, and Olde Towne Clinton.

Hataway’s teaching abilities are getting recognized. The 65-year-old MC professor from Raymond was recently named the 2011 Alumnus of the Year at Hinds Community College. He will be honored by Hinds President Clyde Muse and other school leaders this fall at a dinner at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center on the Raymond campus.

Once, Hataway accompanied Hinds Community College students on a trip to see some of Russia’s finest pieces of art. But again this summer, he says students don’t need to travel very far in Mississippi to take remarkable photos of some of the South’s best attractions.

Photo: MC students taking photographs inside a church in Port Gibson, Miss.