30 students selected for Long Island Arts Council show

High school students from Freeport, Baldwin and Long Beach display their photography skills


Huddled in front of her photograph on display in the Freeport Memorial Library lobby, Agostina Alfonso, 15, her mother, Paola Centurion, and her photography teacher, Lisa Pignataro, chatted about the photo Agostina had snapped of Harry Styles. The image, according to Agostina, intimately captured her experience at a Styles concert at Madison Square Garden in 2017, when she was beginning to explore photography.

Agostina, a Freeport High School sophomore, was one of 30 photography students selected by the Long Island Arts Council at Freeport to take part in this year’s photography show, “Kaleidoscope: Long Island Students’ Point of View Photography.” Other participants included students from Baldwin and Long Beach high schools.

Agostina said she had experimented with photography, but had never taken it seriously until two years ago. “I thought it was something just to do for fun, but now I take it seriously and even have taken classes,” she said. “I love the idea that I can capture a moment and have it forever with me in some kind of way and people can find something in them they like.”

FHS technology teacher Lisa Pignataro said her students use photography as a form of creative expression that represents their lives, which she said she believes is empowering. “A picture is worth a thousand words, and each picture my students take inspires them and gives them joy,” Pignataro said. “It boosts their self-esteem and gives them something to be proud of. This extends beyond the smartphone camera and the selfie.”

Balwin High School student Heather Ilardi, 15, took the best in show in the BHS category by capturing her friend Savannah playing in the park. The photo, she said, just happened naturally. “I just told her to look up,” Heather said. “and I took the picture.”

Being best in show, Heather said, makes her feel like she’s good at something. “I want to become better at taking photos, like my grandpa,” she shared.

“I love her shot,” said Heather’s grandfather, Bill Gardner, from Riverhead. “I’m proud of her. It’s the type of picture, when you look at it, you don’t know exactly where it was taken and leads you to ask questions and wonder.”

Standing in front of her best in show photograph of the Long Beach sunset with her dad, Raymond Powers, Long Beach High School junior Mairead Powers, 16, said she was standing on the jetty on shore while the waves crashed around her to get her winning shot.

Raymond looked at his daughter in disbelief. “You didn’t tell me that part of the story,” he said.

Mairead laughed nervously. “There was something about the sunset that day,” she said. “I love taking pictures of the sunset.”

Mairead said photography is her passion. Her goal — she doesn’t want to take landscape photographs forever. She wants to photograph the National Hockey League, especially the New York Rangers, and one day she wants to become a sports photographer. In the meantime, she’s practicing by taking pictures of her younger brother’s hockey team, the Long Beach Lightning, at games.

“I’m proud,” Raymond said. “It’s a beautiful picture.”

The executive director of the Long Island Arts Council at Freeport, Laurence Dresner, said he was impressed by the photography that the students submitted. “The kids are talented,” he said, “and I think they should consider entering high-lever competitions because I think they will do very well.”