Last month, I was honored to be part of a workshop at The Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at the beautiful Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Center. The two week long intensive program is aimed at the education and advancement of high school age students in the arts, including acting, creative writing, ballet, modern dance, orchestra, chorus, drawing and painting, photography, and film and video. It is an amazing academy and an excellent resource for gifted young artists. I found the students to be fantastic, all of them bright, enthusiastic and eager to learn.
Working alongside brilliant photographers Konrad Eek and Ben Long, I knew we were in for a great time when these two knuckleheads launched an impromptu 20 minute comedy routine to kick things off…
Konrad teaches photography at Oklahoma City Community College and runs Maxwell Eek Design Photography, a commercial photography studio focused on product and fashion photography for wholesale and retail catalogs. Ben is a San Francisco based photographer with a long list of commercial clients, a longtime contributor to many magazines including MacWeek, MacUser, Macworld UK, and is currently a senior contributing editor for Macworld magazine and a senior editor at CreativePro.com. His book, Complete Digital Photography, now in it’s 6th edition, has become something of an industry standard. Together, the three of us formed “Team Photo” and had a blast sharing our diverse passion and knowledge of photography. (Taking notes myself during their lectures, I found the students weren’t the only ones who had something to learn.)
Even when the students weren’t working on assignments, we found ourselves taking advantage of every opportunity to photograph.
Early in the first week, we pulled over on a bus trip to the city of Mangum, spotting a dead snake on the side of the road that just beckoned to be photographed.
|Konrad and his new snake skin belt.|
It was great fun, and when somehow word got around that we were interested in photographing dead things, students started collecting and donating dearly departed Oklahoma wildlife:
The work the students completed on their assignments was remarkable, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the work they produced. In one assignment, the students were asked to see “light as subject”, giving them the challenge of making light itself the main focus and subject matter of an image:
In another assignment, students were encouraged to photograph something in such a way that a shape in the foreground visually relates to a form in the background. It’s an undertaking that is usually a lot more easier said than done, so I was very impressed with how well everyone handled this one:
The students were thrilled to do an underwater shoot, photographing models in a pool with “splash and trash” type disposable cameras.
By the time they finished cannonballing into the pool, they did a great job and came away with not only excellent images but a new appreciation for what I do and the obstacles involved in making my work.
The show we mounted at the end of the workshop was extraordinary and extremely professional. I am so proud of all of the students, for the outstanding work they did, and how much they grew and progressed in just two weeks. THANK YOU ALL for being such a wonderful group!
Also, thanks to The Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute for the invitation to be part of such a fantastic program and wonderful experience! And of course, special thanks to the rest of TEAM PHOTO, Konrad Eek and Ben Long! It was great not only to teach with you but learn from you as well. Hope we can do it all again soon…