Ahh summer. The perfect time of year to enjoy the outdoors, travel and take photos, or just to relax and bask in sun. As kids most of us remember going to summer camp and spending the days interacting with others and making new friends, exploring, and just generally having a good time. We here at the Aperture Academy also remember all the fun times we had at summer camp, and thought, why not make it a little more interesting and have our favorite pastime be the theme: Photography! We introduced the Photography Summer Camp back in 2011, and every summer a new group of young photographers join the ranks of our beloved alumni. This year, new Pro-Instructor Ajay Fay and myself had an awesome group of 9 young photographers. This is our story:
Monday: Portraits and Studio Lighting
We began our 5 day journey with the hope of exposing these kids to every kind of photography we can pack into a week. Monday, is studio portraiture. After meeting all the students and talking about our different skills and hobbies, we have the group assemble our studio from scratch, and create an impromptu photo studio right in the gallery. They learn everything about the basics of lighting, starting with continuous lighting and basic camera skills. But whose modeling? Well, Ajay and I fill in to break the ice, and then everyone gets their moment in the spotlight. Everyone is a little pensive at first, but after a little while, the camaraderie is evident and Ajay and I can see that we are going to have a great week. After lunch, we begin teaching about post processing using Lightroom, and then we break down the hot-light studio, and reconstruct and strobe (or flash) studio in its place. Now everyone gets a crack at using studio strobes! Before long, I think everyone forgets that they're at summer camp; the ice has officially been broken. Day one success.
Running high on the energy from day one, Ajay and I took the kids to the Zoo, to learn about the proper techniques for wildlife photography. The day could not have been more excellent for San Francisco in the summer. Typically you hear SF in the summer is cold, foggy, and miserable, but not this day. We started with the big cats, and getting everyone comfortable with their camera settings. It was warm enough, that some of these guys were pacing around their pens, giving us ample opportunity to grab tons of great photos. From there we went to the bears, and were on hand for the Grizzly feeding. Even though I've seen it a hundred times, theres something about two 600lb grizzly bears running at you full steam that never gets old! We prepped the group as best we could, and got the Grizzly Gulch with ample time to setup and wait for the action. And for about 5 minutes, the bears ran around in front of us searching for their food. We spent time with the gorillas, penguins, and various other animals before Ajay and I realized that our group was effectively pooped. Time to head home.
Wednesday: Cityscapes in San Francisco
Today we set out for another adventure in San Francisco, this time to actually photograph the city, and learn a little bit more about landscape and architecture. What better place to start than the Golden Gate Bridge? Battery Godfrey has some of the best views of the bridge in all of the city, so we started there, learning the ins and outs of landscape photography. We used filters in the broad daylight to slow down the action, and make the cars look like streaks. We headed up to Alamo Square and got some shots of the famous Painted Ladies with the SF skyline behind it. Then we traveled back to the Marina, to work the architectural features of the Palace of Fine Arts. Again, the weather could not have been better! What luck! Our group was really coming together.
Thursday: Landscapes and Photojournalism in Santa Cruz
Sadly one of our students got sick today and couldnt make the final show. WE MISS YOU! And so the show goes on, now with only 8. The wealth of stellar images on the wall was impressive to see. I think the parents appreciated the growth these guys have made in just 5 short days. We still cannot express how much fun it was teaching you these skills and seeing your passion for photography blossom. The class of 2014 was pretty special in my mind, I hope we all stay in touch and hopefully next year you can all come back for round 2! Today we set out to finish our landscapes lesson in the city of Davenport. Since we were shooting in the mid-morning light, this required another round of using ND filters to hold back the bright daylight and allow us to have longer shutter speeds, smoothing the action of ocean. We visited the old Davenport pier before heading down to Shark Fin Cove for some fun on the sand! Watch out for the surf! After lunch at a local burger joint, we headed south to the Beach Boardwalk, where had our group try to tell a story of the Boardwalk in 10 images; a photostory of sorts. They could take pictures of whatever they wanted, as long the story made sense. We got some pretty unique stories! With the temperature hitting the 90's, everyone was clamoring for some shade and AC, so with our time nearly up, we decided to head back and have them download their images for the day.
Friday: Gallery Prep
Sadly one of our students got sick today and couldnt make the final show. WE MISS YOU! And so the show goes on, now with only 8. The wealth of stellar images on the wall was impressive to see. I think the parents appreciated the growth these guys have made in just 5 short days. We still cannot express how much fun it was teaching you these skills and seeing your passion for photography blossom. The class of 2014 was pretty special in my mind, I hope we all stay in touch and hopefully next year you can all come back for round 2! Our last day at camp! Today was all about prepping the images for the gallery show. Every student got the chance to print 5 images of their choosing, and to have those images displayed prominently in our gallery for a group showing. Ajay and I had them finish up processing their images, write an artist statement and bio, and matte their prints. We then took a little break to have them split into teams and complete a photo/video scavenger hunt. The videos were ridiculous, funny and inventive. Needless to say were impressed. We also had them learn some new Photoshop skills by taking three portraits and splicing them together making a hybrid of their classmates. Wow they picked it all up fast! With their images now printed, matted, slideshows ready to go, it was time for the rest of the family to come the progress they had made all week.
Scott, Ajay 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.