Teaching young people about photography is awesome! Most of the workshops we teach tend to cater toward adults, so even though we definitely get some younger photographers in our workshops, this demographic tends to be under-represented. That’s why we have been doing our teen summer camp for the past 8 years. Here we get to cater activities and a relaxed learning environment that fits more in line with this group of photographers.
This past week I was lucky enough to have a good group of kids to work with. The first day was mostly about learning the settings in the camera so that they knew what Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO were and how they work together. Even those who know their cameras pretty well can get hung up with some of these terms and how they work together. Once the lecture and slide show parts were done we spent a couple of hours learning about portrait photography and practicing with our logistics manager/owner Monique. She’s a great model and the kids had fun walking around the business park looking for what might make a good background. I like the fact that we were working in an area that many people would not think of as “photogenic.” This is a great lesson for life with a camera. Not everything we photograph is going to be awesome immediately, sometimes it takes creativity and patience to find out what the “shot” is and work with what you have.
After our portrait session, it was time for a fun lunch break nearby and then we jumped right in for another fun shoot. Monique has an active Blue Merle Australian Sheppard who loves to be photographed, so she came to our class to give the students an opportunity to work on pet portraits and action shots of her catching a frisbee. The kids loved it!
After our impromptu dog photography session, it was time to start working on Lightroom and Photoshop techniques. We went over what all of the functions of Lightroom are and got into a few editing techniques for portraits in photoshop. It’s always fun to see the work you’ve made in the field up on the screen, and then make it look its best. This is also an area where many photographers start to develop their own style.
The first day flew by, and we were excited for day two and our big field trip to Santa Cruz!
The Santa Cruz boardwalk area is always fun! It’s a great place to work on street photography, landscapes, some wildlife, as well as interesting abstractions with the many textures and colors in the vicinity. When we arrived the morning fog was still sitting over the area, making for some moody, cool images. I personally liked the palm trees in the fog, I could shoot fog all day. We spent time working underneath the pier with repetitive shapes, and some moody layering of the pillars in the pier. From there we went on the pier and had fun looking for seals, and shooting some baby seagulls. The pier offers so many different things to shoot, it’s fun to see what catches your eye and then try to make it into something cool in the camera.
We left the pier behind us and moved into the amusement park portion of the area, where we practiced doing some panning shots of the carousel and some intentional movement blur of the giant swing set. The big lesson is that there’s always something to shoot and having as many different creative techniques at your disposal will help you be creative.
After a yummy lunch at a local burger restaurant, we set off back to the city and the end of our second day.
On our last day together we started by doing some still life/product photography. The light setup is the same for both, so it’s just a matter of how closely you want to photograph the subject. We had the kids bring a few of their own things from home to shoot, and we brought a few things as well. It was a fun way to get up close and personal with photography.
The majority of the day was devoted to finishing processing all the images, gathering the images for their photo scavenger hunt that we gave them on day 1, and then printing out some of their photos. Man, they looked NICE! It’s always fun to see the way the students see the subjects we photographed, and then how they processed them. I could already see a few unique styles developing. The print showcase is the perfect way to end a fun 3-day workshop. We really liked getting to know the students and helping them start to make another jump in their photography journey. Each of the kids had a really strong eye for detail and saw things in a refreshing and unique way. It was awesome for us to see!
Until next time,
Brian, Monique, Cali, and the rest of the Aperture Academy team
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.