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I remember the first day of any Summer camp I went to was always the most nerve racking- meeting new people and having to spend the entire week with them is an interesting experience and I am always happy at how well the Summer camps go! This week specifically Scott and I had 11 girls enrolled, and with a week full of photographic adventures planned- I knew things would go perfectly! As instructors, Scott and I always have our campers tell us about where they are coming from photographically, and what the enjoy taking pictures of the most. These budding photographers had a full range of likes from landscape to portrait of their friends as well as photojournalism! We always like to see their interests changing throughout the week as the Aperture Academy introduces them to all sorts of photographic opportunity!
Monday: Portraiture and Studio Lighting
Introductions started off the first day, Scott and I went over basic camera function along with a key note presentation in hopes to plant key words in to everyone’s foggy Summer brains. Just as most learn best with hands on, in-field lessons, we headed outside to start the natural light portrait part of the day. It was early enough to beat the Summer heat, and as we walked around the pruneyard shopping center, we were thrilled to see bonds forming between the girls. Everyone was always be behind the camera, but we encouraged each camper to be a subject or model as well, so those interested in portrait photography would have a chance to feel what is like to have camera lenses pointed at their faces! We headed towards downtown Campbell and ended the outside portion in Campbell park where we practiced action shots by swinging and ran in to doggy subjects, super cute and willing to be our models : ) After getting back to the gallery, we introduced shooting portraits and products with studio lights- touching on posing and flattering light as well as safety in the studio. The girls downloaded their images from the day and using Adobe Lightroom, we started their personal workflow and post production.
Tuesday: San Francisco Zoo
We were all excited to cruise North to the SF Zoo, it had been a while since I taught a workshop there, and I heard there was a new edition to the zoo tiger family! I knew it was going to be over cast, which is ideal for most wildlife and portrait type of photography because it cuts out the contrast and leaves photographers with an appealing, even light. I always hope for the fog to clear up after lunch, to give everyone a chance to shoot in both types of light! We made it in time for the bear feeding and watched the two sisters scavenge for apples and as the keeper squeezed some honey on to the glass, so we definitely got some up close and personal portraits! The girls were noticing a greenish hue to all of their shots and it was true! The glass enclosure had a greenish tint, which Scott & I assured them was an easy fix during post production. After polar bears, seals, lunch at the Lemur Cafe, the cat kingdom and stopping by to say hi to the attentive meerkats, we loaded up in to the ApCab to head back to the gallery for a quick hour of image selection. When we returned, Scott and I had the girls start their artist statements for the gallery show that Friday- with little hesitation, we have them a few key questions to start with, just to get them thinking about it. Final revision was to be made before the show : )
Wednesday: Landscapes and Photojournalism in Santa Cruz
While the campers arrived during the mornings, Scott and I were helping them with unfinished editing & we got them thinking about which images were print worthy for the gallery show! Introducing social media; using websites such as Facebook and Instagram we showed them how one could use it as a marketing tool to promote their work and ideas for their own photography! For those who had FB accounts, we had them post to their wall their favorite image so far, as well as details about the show. Excited to have a day at the beach, this is always my favorite day as an instructor because there is a story assignment that goes along with the trip. Just up the coast, North of UCSC, there is a secret pull out, with a not so secret beach named Shark Tooth Cove. A great place to shoot a beach scene with plenty of room to spread out and get unique shots- including a cave, giants crashing waves, reflections, and graffiti art. With a final stop at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, our assignment was to have each camper capture the essence of the amusement park in 7 -10 images. While some focused on details- color, numbers and letters, other found couples, siblings in matching outfits, and children enjoying rides and fun!
Thursday: SF Palace of Fine Arts
Traveling Northbound one last time this week, we made our way back up to San Francisco, visiting baker beach just South of the GG bridge giving time for landscape practice. The bridge had a nice thick layer of fog just above the supports, engulfing the cables and making for a beautiful image! After being underneath, everyone voted and decided to go walk across the bridge, were we could have been gobbled by the blanket that often lays over the bay. The Golden Gate Bridge took 4 years to build, and opened to the public in 1937, which makes for a fantastic photo opp. especially from the pedestrian walk way! Shooting upside the towers and some including the cables in to their compositions, the girls were capturing some truly eerie images- excellent in both color, and black and white- I knew everyone was excited to get images form this day, downloaded and produced. Finally we stopped at the Palace of Fine Arts, were we made friends with a goose in the lagoon, and practiced the art of symmetry underneath the rotunda!
Friday: Gallery Prep and Show As with any successful exploration in photography, you want to share the results with peers, friends and family. After a week of practicing new skills, visiting new locations, and learning the ins and outs of many different types of photography, it was finally time to pick out the very best images from the week and have them displayed in our gallery for all to see. Each student was able to print out 5 images of their choosing (4 small, 1 big) for our gallery show later in the afternoon. We, as instructors were tasked with helping each student finalize their decisions and help to make those images look the very best for the show. We tackled new post-processing techniques, and gave everyone a lesson in properly matting their final prints. While everything was printing, the students were broken up into groups and sent out on a scavenger hunt designed to put their skills to the test. With everything printed out, the girls matted all their own prints, organized their section of wall space to their individual liking, with time to spare for the show. It was a hit! Favorite images from the week were displayed in a random loop on our big screen, while friends and family gathered around the beautiful art on the walls. After a few words from Scott about the weeks events, and congratulations all around, our time with this amazing group of young photographers had sadly come to an end. At least for this week.
Scott, Alicia, Megan and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team are extremely proud of you! Until next time...
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.