Blake Learning in Style School students restored photos

“It takes a lot of vulnerability to give up a treasured photograph for restoration, especially if it is the only physical copy,” says Winnie Ulland ʼ24, a student in Brian Sago’s Advanced Photography class. Ulland and her classmates gained a new appreciation for the value of a single picture when they volunteered to restore damaged or low quality photos belonging to students at Learning in Style School (LISS), an education center for adult immigrants who are learning English. 

After restoring the photos, Blake’s students visited LISS to return the pictures and meet the people they belong to. Sago says this is one of the most momentous projects he’s taught and the experience has been transformative for his students. Class member Nick Gajdusek ʼ26 explains that many of the photos they worked on included family members who have died or hold cherished childhood memories, making the effort to restore each photo that much more significant. “Because we got to hear the history of these photos we had been looking at and working on for so long,” he adds, “to put a story to a picture meant a lot not only to [the LISS students] but to all of us as we gained a sense of pride and joy for what we were able to do for them.”

Collin Lee ʼ24 agrees, “I loved how they trusted us with special and memorable photos … While editing the photos, it felt like I was getting to know the person and the importance behind the photo.” Lee edited a photo of a student who couldn’t be there to meet him, but her mother was there to accept the picture. “[Her] mother kept stating that she looked so beautiful in the photo,” he says. “So while I was helping out their family, their reactions gave me a sense of pride in my work. I had no idea that one photo could have such a significant impact on somebody.”

Will Nelson ʼ24, who was able to meet the students whose photos he restored, had a similar experience: “To see their eyes brighten up and hear how grateful they were made me feel like I was able to contribute to something so important in their lives. It made my day that much better.”

Blake and LISS are longtime community partners. Special thanks to Blake Service Learning and Community Engagement Director Lisa Sackreiter and Martha Nemesi and Elisabeth O'Toole at LISS for their support of this project.