Back in June, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Ben Long at The Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute workshops.  In addition to his work with many magazines such as MacWeek, MacUser, Macworld, and, Ben is also a regular contributor to, an award winning online instructional video library. produces thousands of video tutorials and training on various topics.  While most of their video’s feature courses on software, they have been working towards focusing on where creativity and technology intersect.  Some of their latest videos are aimed at educating not just the practical aspects of a given discipline, but the artistic understanding and creative vision that can be applied.

Ben Long’s Foundations of Photography series has been a huge success with, addressing technical knowledge of photography with an understanding of the aesthetics of it as well.  Following our work together during the summer at Quartz mountain, Ben and I were reunited for fall courses at The Oklahoma Arts Institute.  The folks at took the opportunity to incorporate the workshop into a new course Ben was working on for the site,  Foundations of Photography: Composition.  We were followed by a camera crew who filmed our lectures on creativity, intuition and seeing, as well as critiques and discussions with the students.

This was such a new and fantastic project to work on, and it was wonderful to work with Ben and everyone from  The Foundations of Photography: Composition video series was published on on 12-23-11 and has already been a huge success, highlighting as one of the most viewed courses.  I highly encourage anyone interested to check out the series, you won’t be disappointed!

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.

Team Photo

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  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.)

The Lecture

It was a wonderful experience!  Upon arriving, I gave a lecture and presentation of my work and never have I spoken to a more appreciative audience.  The reaction from everyone was enthusiastic, with great questions and insightful responses to my work.

Oklahoma Wildlife

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 Students

Ashley Hale

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:

David Parks

Maggie Knobbe

Chris Tran

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:

Amber Griffith
Ethan Yates

 The students were thrilled to do an underwater shoot, photographing models in a pool with “splash and trash” type disposable cameras.

Kaylee Howerton 

Kaelea Crowell

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.

Closing Show

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…