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Design4Kids InFocus

Monday, January 6th, 2014

_MG_1140Those of you who have been long-time members and readers are aware of the work I do with the Design4Kids Workshops working with Fotokids, the world-renowned program developing the creative drive and thinking in the disadvantaged youth of Guatemala.

I met Nancy McGirr, the director of Fotokids about four and a half years ago when a “coincidental” encounter put me in contact with Jeff Speigner, a graphic designer who had met Nancy a year earlier and had just developed the fledgling Design4Kids project. The story of that “coincidence” is a whole post in itself, and a monumental example of the Law of Attraction in action.

Design4Kids is a group of graphic designers, photographers and professionals from various areas of experience who have come together to help teach business-based skills to the Fotokids students, furthering their quest to create a positive, meaningful life for themselves and their loved ones. The for-profit design firm, Jakaramba, is now well into its third year, a result in great degree of the Design4Kids program.

This week I’m back in Guatemala to teach what will be the first of a departure from our usually graphic design and photography related, client oriented workshop projects. I’ll be the sole mentor working with Nancy and Linda Morales teaching advanced photography skills and portfolio development to a group of some of the more advanced Fotokids students in Santiago Atitlan. Linda, by the way is a former Fotokids student and is now one of the program’s chief instructors. She’s a highly accomplished artist and educator.

Design4Kids InFocus kicked off Sunday in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. After introductions all around, the workshop opened with the instructors sharing their work with the students and a review of student work. The core theme of the workshop is portfolio development, and additional photography.

Monday. Our first full day of instruction began with Linda teaching the basics of the dSLR followed by my lesson on using reflectors to modify light and control contrast.

The nine students, with an average age of 13 years, are already experienced and talented photographers. This first photography-only centered Design4Kids workshop promises to be and exciting time.

I’ll be posting daily updates on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/design4kids so go ahead and “like” our page to receive updates on the workshop and what the kids are doing. You can check out some of our previous workshops there too. You can also see more info on Design4Kids at www.design4kids.org.

And you definitely want to see the whole Fotokids story at www.fotokids.org.

Be sure to like our page, www.facebook.com/design4kids, and tell the people you know all about it too.

Hasta pronto.

 

 

 

 

Design4Kids Honduras Photo Workshop Wrap Up

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Well, as usual, the internet speed and availability down in Honduras kept me from updating live as I’d hoped to. So here’s a review of the workshop.

We arrived in Las Mangas just an hour after power returned following three days of their having no electricity, no water, nada. It’s the rainy season in Caribbean Honduras, and the La Ceiba and Rio Congrejal area had just received the most rain since Hurricane Mitch inundated much of Central America in 1998. The river had swelled to extreme levels, closing the road up to Las Mangas for several days.

Carmiña and David and their crew, our hosts at El Encanto Doña Lydia made quick work of the cleanup and we were comfortably settled in by Saturday evening.

My colleague Eric Lolkema and I had come by bus from Antigua, Guatemala on Saturday, and the rest of our mentors arrived Sunday afternoon. The students and staff got together Sunday evening to meet, learn about each other, and get a quick overview of the workshop ahead.

Our initial theme was to work with a client, as is the typical Design4Kids workshop format, this time producing a photographic rather than a graphic design project. A last minute change of plans for the planned client caused us to have to reevaluate this strategy. By the end of the day Monday we realized that our plan of introducing the students to the use of dSLR’s and controlling the cameras manually would be more effective without the additional pressure of trying to shoot for a client project.

Eric Lolkema demonstrates a creative motion technique

Eric's final result

 

The Guaruma students participating in the workshop were all experienced and talented photographers, but had exclusively used the school’s point & shoot cameras for all of their photography up until this time. Our objective was to bring them to the next level, integrating their conceptual knowledge of creative photography with the greater ability to control your results that using an SLR in Manual mode provides. The week consisted of classroom presentations and practical assignments showing the students the proper use of the Aperture/Shutter relationship, learning to read and interpret the camera’s Light Meter, and the creative use of depth of Field and Motion effects. We finished up with an introduction to the use of fill-flash and reflectors to augment available light for greater image control.

By workshop’s end we instructors realized that a week was not sufficient to bring these students up to being fully confident with all aspects of using and controlling their new cameras. Our review of their final assignment work revealed that the ability to take a photograph creatively with a fully automatic camera does not immediately transform into the technical skills required to control the camera on your own.

The good news is that these kids are already accomplished creative photographers, and the seeds have been sown for their continued growth to Mastering Their SLRs. They’ve begun to realize the advanced level of creative control that exists when you are in complete control of the photographic process.

Dates for the next Design4kids workshop, back in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala have been set, for the week of June 26th through July 2nd, 2011. More information can be found on the www.design4kids.org website or by contacting me directly at stu@thephotomentor.com

Design4Kids 5.6 Honduras Photo Workshop Update

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

We’re just a month away from the start of the Design4Kids 5.6 workshop being held from January 16th through January 22nd, 2011 in Las Mangas, Honduras. The client has been selected, final course content is being completed, travel plans have been made.

The “5.6” number of our fifth Design4Kids Workshop honors the key difference of this event. Unlike the four previous workshops held in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, where photography has been included as a part of the curriculum that was concentrated on graphic design and a graphics project, this week will shift its focus (pun entirely intended) to photography as the primary project.

The kids at Guaruma in Las Mangas, an affiliate school overseen and funded by Fotokids, have been studying photography at various levels, but have little in the way of a graphic design background, and even less in the way of graphics software and graphic design-capable computers. Thus, we felt that our first workshop here in Honduras would be more effectively spent in expanding and refining their photo skills.

The client will be one of the local travel lodges here along the Rio Congrejal, an area emphasizing eco-tourism and honoring its rich and diverse environment. The kids, ages 13 to 19, will learn how to move from simply walking around with a camera to planning , coordinating and effectively executing a photography project for a specific purpose, providing photographs to specific guidelines.

Along the way we’ll introduce them to the advanced capabilities of SLR cameras – their experience up to now as been almost entirely with point & shoot digitals. Take a look at their photos at www.guaruma.org and the Honduras project on www.fotokids.org and you quickly realize that photography is not about the tools but the skills and creative vision of the photographer. They’ve produced an amazing body of work.

As always, I fully expect to come away from this week having gained far more that I give, and working with all these kids is always an incredibly enriching, rewarding experience.

THERE’S STILL TIME!

Although we’re just four and a half weeks away from our kick-off, there’s still time to get involved. We have just one opening still available for a motivated individual to participate as a mentor in the workshop. While having photographic skills is valuable, even more essential is the willingness to give of yourself and a desire to enrich the lives of others. No matter what professional or technical skills you possess, the life skills and knowledge that you impart on the kids here are invaluable to their ultimate success in life. To learn more and become a part of our dedicated crew, email me personally at stu@thephotomentor.com . You can also learn more about Design4Kids at www.Design4Kids.org .

Interior Photography at the Capital Home Show

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Just finished shooting the exhibits done by some friends of mine for Habitat ReStore of Northern Virginia at the Capital Home Show in Chantilly, VA this weekend. These designers are incredibly talented, using the discarded and recycled “home parts” from ReStore to create some amazing home furnishings and accessories.

If you’re not familiar with Habitat ReStore – and if you live in a house (apartment, condo, etc.) you should be – these are resale outlets operated by Habitat for Humanity. They collect donated recycled, reusable and surplus building materials and offer them for sale to the public at a fraction of the retail prices for the same materials. Proceeds from the sales help fund local Habitat projects.

Think there’s nothing of interest there for you, since you’re not rehabbing or rebuilding a home? Take a look at what these designers, all members of the IRIS National Capital Area Chapter, can do with these materials and you’ll have an entirely different outlook.

Try – an étagère made from kitchen cabinet doors and pipes. Kitchenette storage benches made from kitchen cabinets. Throw and area rugs made by stitching together carpet samples!

The possibilities are nearly endless. If you’re in the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area, you owe it to yourself to go over and take a look at everything they’ve done. The Show runs through Sunday, September 26th at the Dulles Expo Center. Note – I’m not affiliated with the Home Show, am not selling tickets nor make anything from the show. I’m not directly affiliated with Habitat for Humanity, but am a strong supporter of their works.

You can find more about Habitat ReStore of Northern Virginia at http://www.restorenova.org/ or if you’re not in the Northern Virginia area at http://www.habitat.org/env/restores  (click on the “Shop>ReStore Retail Outlets” tab to locate a store in your area). To learn more about IRIS and to locate a designer, take a look at http://www.irisorganization.org .