Two weeks ago marked the end of our Spring 2017 Who are U? Class. After five weeks together, it was bittersweet to say goodbye (for now) to our two students, Sophie and Emily. Spending those Saturdays together, delving into the world of photography, had allowed us to really form a bond and help each other grow as artists. There were so many interesting discussions, fun shoots and moments of inspiration, but the highlight was seeing the girls each develop their own unique photographic interests and aesthetics. The work they produced throughout various in-class shoots and in their final projects showed not only a solid grasp of concepts and techniques taught, but also true creativity and vision.
All in all, the class, and Sophie and Emily specifically, reaffirmed why we do what we do--for the love of photography and the fresh new voices that command to be heard.
Check out a week by week recap of our class below!
Week 1: In the first week of class, we delved deep into exposure and composition, both in the classroom and out shooting. We reviewed use of aperture, shutter speed and ISO in producing a well-exposed photo, and then explored how these controls can be used creatively to give photos a certain depth of field, quality of motion and noise (or graininess). We began thinking specifically about portrait photography and the various composition techniques that can be used to enhance it, as the class's project prompt was introduced: "who are you?" The girls were asked to answer this question however they liked--the answer could be as narrow as picking one person to profile, or as wide as exploring who we are as humans--and depict their individual responses in a photo series. A discussion on visual storytelling led into a brainstorm, and ideas were born for each student's project.
Week 2: The second week of class was all about light--the foundation of photography. Knowing how to observe, capture and use light to your advantage is the difference between a casual and a practiced photographer. We explored various lighting techniques and scenarios, working with natural versus artificial light, white balancing for different light sources, and directing subjects into good light (perhaps a photographer's most challenging task!). We also continued our discussion on portraiture and explored what exactly makes a compelling portrait, as well as the traditional, environmental, candid and abstract variations. Armed with this new knowledge, the girls made a plan for shooting their photo projects.
Week 3: We spent our third Saturday together exploring the 49 Geary St galleries in San Francisco. The Scott Nichols Gallery, Robert Koch Gallery, and Fraenkel Gallery are all photography focused and have a wonderful mini-museum vibe. We were fortunate enough to catch exhibits by some of the biggest names in photography, including Ansel Adams, Danny Lyon and Elliott Erwitt. The trip afforded endless opportunities to expand our visual literacy and simply be inspired. We ended with a short photo walk through the city streets and then the girls were off to execute their "who are you?" shoots.
Week 4: With their photo projects shot and raw images in hand, the fourth week of class was an editing rundown. We introduced Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop and learned how to cull through images, spotting the strongest ones and maximizing their composition (with cropping and cloning), color balance, whites and blacks, and shadows and highlights in post-process. We did a couple of "follow along" edits as a group and then let the students have at it with their own images.
Week 5: The last week of class started out with a review of the material taught and a fun photo "scavenger hunt." We spent a good portion of our time outside, shooting and flexing our new skills behind the camera. And finally, as a culmination of all the hard work that came before, the last half hour was entirely dedicated to exhibiting Sophie's and Emily's photo projects. Their families joined us for a presentation and discussion of the work, which was the perfect way to end our class. You can see the girls' photo series in their entirety on our Past Projects page.
Many, many thanks to Sophie, Emily and their families for bringing their talents, energy and enthusiasm to our Spring 2017 Who are U? Class!