Seattle Sketcher and a photographer friend met at their kids' school this morning to guest-teach a class of visual journalism. Call it sketchbooks vs. cameras!

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My photographer friend Mike and I met at our kids’ school this morning to guest-teach a class of visual journalism to 7th and 8th graders. Call it sketchbooks vs. cameras!

The assignment consisted in documenting the local QFC supermarket, where the staff was so eager to welcome the students that they brought out balloons for everyone — I overheard a worker say “I thought it was a kindergarten class!”

The visit was short, just about 45 minutes, but we managed to draw and photograph a lot of things. Quick and simple renderings of flowers, watermelons, salmon, the store manager and the fish guy all made it into my notebook right on the spot. Later, I added watercolor from memory to flesh out the sketches.

A highlight of the supermarket tour was getting access to some behind-the-scenes spots you don’t get to see when grocery-shopping. In the back of the store, the staff let us step into walk-in freezers bigger than my kids’ rooms. The temperature inside was set at 33-degrees but the cold didn’t keep anyone from making lines and taking snapshots.

At the end, no winner was declared in the face-off between pens and lenses. And that’s a good thing.

Whether with a pen or a camera, the act of recording things visually forces us to pay attention to our surroundings. It helps us see things with new eyes when we take the time to look. And that’s all that matters.