With the help of photojournalist Lori Rafferty, Santa Barbara Middle School students are developing a passion for photography.

And their work is paying off, in the form of an exhibit inside Samy’s Camera, 614 Chapala St. Their photos will be on display through the end of June.

The display includes photos by students Ava de Nunzio, Amy Davis, Brigid Quinn, Eliana Schiffer, Emalani Artiss, Gabriel Hart, Heather Harkness, Hope Saxon, Leah Yahyavi, Maddy Stranahan, Sophia Phillips and Sydney Riegert.

Each of the sixth- through ninth-graders in Rafferty’s winter-term digital photography class used top-of-the-line SLR Nikon D40 cameras, provided in part through a grant from the Village Properties Teachers Fund.

Rafferty, a Noozhawk contributor, says what has surprised her the most about her students is how quickly and proficiently they have grasped the ability to see creatively and compose interesting pictures.

“I think it’s because with this age group, they don’t have all the visual baggage we have as adults when looking through a camera,” she says.

Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson can be reached at mnelson@noozhawk.com.