Spotlight on...the students of Inside the Frame with Rebecca Conway

Awareness and intention are two of the most influential tools in framing an effective composition. Whether you are drawn to the visual and graphic nature of a scene or are an emotionally driven shooter, knowing how to arrange those elements is crucial in conveying your intended message to the viewer. My first run of the Inside The Frame here at Illuminate was wonderful, challenging and inspiring. Each week of the three-week class builds through daily lessons and offers exercises and weekly assignments to have students practicing each technique or concept. I was inspired while watching the students push and challenge themselves to put the new lessons to practice with a better understanding and fresh approach to the topics they were already familiar with.  
 

Not all assignments in the class were related to shooting new images, but exploring the value of studying your own imagery as a whole to develop more insight to your own innate way of seeing. Recognizing what draws you and drives you to frame a scene is the foundation for developing your eye for more dynamic composition. 

Conversation and question is key to gaining knowledge. The dialogue with the students and myself about lessons, along with the feedback on critiques I gave on assignments and exercises had them questioning their intent and evaluating their own images in ways they had been overlooking, unaware of, or possibly forgotten over the course of their journey of learning. So much insight was gained from not only their own personal critique, but reading and following the other questions and feedback in the class. 

A big thank you to the students of this class for challenging your mind and eye to see things in a new or different way. I am grateful for the chance to share and continue growing as a teacher. Can’t wait until my next class in a few months! 
xo, 
Rebecca Conway | Instructor of Inside the Frame

Spotlight on..the students of the Simple Edit with Leah Zawadzki

The Simple Edit is not about image processing as much as about the process itself, about the role post production plays in making photographs. This first class of students was amazing, eager to learn and so full of potential. In our two weeks together it was all about unraveling that potential, exploring it in their work and bringing it to life with their edits.

Beyond the mechanics of learning the Lightroom program, during the first week of class we took a look at student work by editing images. In this process, not only did they get a first-hand look at how Lightroom worked, but also gained insight on “seeing” edits and what we can learn from our images in post processing. Here are a few photographs from that exercise.

Growth occurs in the process of making choices about our work. The better we understand our own work and the direction we want to take it, the easier the choices become. From choosing color temperature to image contrast, to which photos to show in a session or in our portfolio’s or even with our personal work, making choices helps define us as artists. By shooting and editing and making more work, it’s in this process that we all have the opportunity to make better work. 

By the beginning of the second week students are asked to look at their own work and select 6-10 of their top images. These images begin to define the kind of work they want to make. It’s amazing how many of us have a hard time, for whatever reason, making these decisions. But once we push ourselves to make hard choices, the result begins to tell us not only about our work but about ourselves.  

Over the weekend, students are asked to make work using the process presented in class. Part of the exercise is about using Lightroom, so if questions arise, they do so during class. More importantly, it’s about making new work and to practice making choices in post-production. Here are a few images students submitted, and I was so impressed with the progress in just a little over a week.

It was so much fun to see the growth and discovery unfold before my eyes. By the time class was over I had fallen in love with my student’s hearts and each one’s desire to make meaningful work. It was such a pleasure!! xo

Leah Zawadzki | Instructor of the Simple Edit

Spotlight on....the students of Magic of Light with Summer Murdock

"I have been teaching the Magic of Light workshop going on four years now and every class I feel so incredibly honored and humbled that these talented photographers saw something in my work that made them want to spend their time with me in class. It is amazing to see significant growth in these artists in such a short amount of time. I was able to witness many "aha" moments. Nothing makes me happier than to see photographers begin to gain the tools and knowledge that will help them bring to life the images that have been previously stuck inside their heads. Or even seeing them begin to develop the confidence that they can walk into any lighting situation and know how to create the images they want with intention vs by "happy accident." I saw a lot of that during this last class. The Magic of Light workshop is more than just learning technique though, it's about slowing down and seeing all the beauty around us, being inspired by it, and then using your camera to capture it deliberately and with intent. It's about trusting in your own creative vision, no longer being a slave to your camera, and creating cool images in whatever light is available. All light is not equal but you really can create good images in any kind of light. It's also about having an open and safe space to learn and grow…

These are some of the images that the talented and inspiring photographers created during the last run of the workshop…"

Summer Murdock | Instructor of The Magic of Light

 Yan Liu

Yan Liu

 Becky Amshoff

Becky Amshoff

 Sarah Pogorzelski

Sarah Pogorzelski

Spotlight on...the students of The Family Historian with Heather Robinson

There is a popular saying, “A picture paints a thousand words.”  Isn’t this why so many people take photographs?  We need these mementos to help us remember the past.  Because without them we forget.  But the truth is even with them we forget.  This is because our brains aren’t capable of retrieving all the specifics that make up actual stories.  With the passing of time the story lines become twisted.  If the who, what, when, where, and why never get answered, what becomes of the story?  The answers can only come from those who lived the stories.  And if these answers never get recorded, the photograph is merely a piece of paper with some people’s images printed in ink. It is through the narratives that we attach to these pictures that our stories live on long after we are gone.  

In The Family Historian, I challenge my students to search their souls for what is most sacred to them and therefore must be preserved.  I encourage them to let down their guards and document their families with honesty.  

During the first week of class, I show the students how to capture what matters most in their family stories while using creative light and composition.  I believe that you can document your everyday authentically and artistically. 

 Image by  Francesca Russell   
 Image by  Kristin Wahls   

Image by Kristin Wahls  

 Image by  Sonja Stich

Image by Sonja Stich

In order to leave behind a rich, authentic family history, I encourage the students to capture not only the good but also the bad.  I was so proud of all of the students who allowed themselves to be vulnerable. They embraced the mess and chaos of raising children and captured it not only accurately but also beautifully.   

A major goal of mine when teaching this workshop is to not only embolden students to step into the frame with their families, but also to write themselves into the story by photographing themselves in real everyday moments with their children.  I want them to take self-portraits that show connection.  These photos might one day be all that our children have of us.  Shouldn’t they show them who we really were and how intensely we loved them?

 Image by Renee Jansen

Image by Renee Jansen

 Image by  Jessica Gyoda   

Image by Jessica Gyoda  

The final assignment required the students to put everything they learned about light, composition, authenticity, and writing narratives together to document an important part of their family history.  This is when all those important questions get answered.  The narratives connect the dots.  They bolster the photographs.  Together they tell the stories that make up a family legacy.  

Perhaps there should be a new saying, “A picture inspires a thousand words.”  

 “Look at you, Honeybear.  Holes in the knees of pants that have suddenly become an inch too short.  You look at me and whisper, "I'm so tired", and boy do I believe you.  Growing makes us ache.  You have started asking to hold my hand on our morning outings while baby sleeps.  You hand is still so tiny and soft and warm and it makes me remember when it was just you and me, Daddy too of course but mostly just us wandering the days away.  I miss that time with you.  When I was the witness of every wonder you had for the world.  When I didn't have to share you.  When you didn't have to share me.”  Image and words by Kendra Knaggs  

“Look at you, Honeybear.  Holes in the knees of pants that have suddenly become an inch too short.  You look at me and whisper, "I'm so tired", and boy do I believe you.  Growing makes us ache.  You have started asking to hold my hand on our morning outings while baby sleeps.  You hand is still so tiny and soft and warm and it makes me remember when it was just you and me, Daddy too of course but mostly just us wandering the days away.  I miss that time with you.  When I was the witness of every wonder you had for the world.  When I didn't have to share you.  When you didn't have to share me.”

Image and words by Kendra Knaggs  

 “Just another ordinary day. Up at the crack of dawn, eating your favorite breakfast-- peanut butter roll-ups (today they are in the "taco" shape) and b-meanas. You've called them b-meanas for as long as I can remember. My heart will be sad the day that they become, 'bananas'. Grace, you are flipping through a year's worth of pictures on your digital camera-- the camera that we bought you for your third birthday. You are getting more and more excited with each picture you find. I love flipping through your camera and seeing through your eyes. There are so many pictures of me. I once read somewhere that we photograph what we fear losing. Mine is you. I'm glad yours is me. Eloise, you were so mad at me this morning because I moved your chair. The two of you usually sit on the end of the table so that you aren't touching, but today your mama needed to play with the light. You keep asking Grace to show you the pictures, she does, and then takes a picture of the two of you together. I hope you are always together, side by side, thick as thieves.”  Image and words by Jennifer Vidonish

“Just another ordinary day. Up at the crack of dawn, eating your favorite breakfast-- peanut butter roll-ups (today they are in the "taco" shape) and b-meanas. You've called them b-meanas for as long as I can remember. My heart will be sad the day that they become, 'bananas'. Grace, you are flipping through a year's worth of pictures on your digital camera-- the camera that we bought you for your third birthday. You are getting more and more excited with each picture you find. I love flipping through your camera and seeing through your eyes. There are so many pictures of me. I once read somewhere that we photograph what we fear losing. Mine is you. I'm glad yours is me. Eloise, you were so mad at me this morning because I moved your chair. The two of you usually sit on the end of the table so that you aren't touching, but today your mama needed to play with the light. You keep asking Grace to show you the pictures, she does, and then takes a picture of the two of you together. I hope you are always together, side by side, thick as thieves.”

Image and words by Jennifer Vidonish

 “It has been approximately two-thousand-seven-hundred and 1 days (give or take a handful) since I have slept through the night. Pregnancy nights were filled with endless trips to the bathroom to pee, hip pain, hunger then nausea and inability to turn myself over without Dad’s gentle push to help my aching body. Newborn to 18 month nights were filled with round the clock feedings, blistered and bleeding nipples, the dreaded light-blanket at home jaundice care, kids up screaming just for no reason, and an anxious mind that questioned everything. Then until now nights have been filled with need for water, bedhead in the shadows and sleep filled eyes looking for a body to wrap yourselves around, labored breathing from the croup or plain old wakefulness.  When I first got pregnant, I think a million people said to me, “Oh night time is my favorite. Enjoy it while you can. They won’t be little forever. This time goes by too fast.” Each time it was said to me I wanted to punch them in the face.  But two-thousand-seven-hundred and 1 days (give or take a handful) later, I can see a glimmer of beauty in the night time work. There are faint shadows of moments moving through my mind of the joy instead of the pain. Hands on my tummy feeling you move, the warmth of your breath on my neck and the pressure of your tiny fingers wrapped around mine, the relief that comes over your body when I carry you back to bed after a bad dream, the sound of your sweet voice saying, “I love you too, mom.” Time can indeed heal and the gift of those memories is this kind of closeness with you.”  Image and words by  Rachel Wheeler   

“It has been approximately two-thousand-seven-hundred and 1 days (give or take a handful) since I have slept through the night. Pregnancy nights were filled with endless trips to the bathroom to pee, hip pain, hunger then nausea and inability to turn myself over without Dad’s gentle push to help my aching body. Newborn to 18 month nights were filled with round the clock feedings, blistered and bleeding nipples, the dreaded light-blanket at home jaundice care, kids up screaming just for no reason, and an anxious mind that questioned everything. Then until now nights have been filled with need for water, bedhead in the shadows and sleep filled eyes looking for a body to wrap yourselves around, labored breathing from the croup or plain old wakefulness.

When I first got pregnant, I think a million people said to me, “Oh night time is my favorite. Enjoy it while you can. They won’t be little forever. This time goes by too fast.” Each time it was said to me I wanted to punch them in the face.

But two-thousand-seven-hundred and 1 days (give or take a handful) later, I can see a glimmer of beauty in the night time work. There are faint shadows of moments moving through my mind of the joy instead of the pain. Hands on my tummy feeling you move, the warmth of your breath on my neck and the pressure of your tiny fingers wrapped around mine, the relief that comes over your body when I carry you back to bed after a bad dream, the sound of your sweet voice saying, “I love you too, mom.” Time can indeed heal and the gift of those memories is this kind of closeness with you.”

Image and words by Rachel Wheeler  

Over the course of two weeks, I quickly became enamored with the beautiful voices who came together to share their stories, their hopes and fears, and their hearts.  I look forward to keeping in touch with these students and hopefully getting peeks from time to time at the lovely stories that they are writing for themselves and those they love most.

XO,
Heather Robinson | Instructor of The Family Historian

Spotlight on...the students of Project Development & Fine Art with Deb Schwedhelm

Where do I start? What an incredible two weeks we had together and I was absolutely blown away by the dedication of these students and all that they accomplished. 

This was my first, but definitely not my last, Project Development & Fine Art course here at Illuminate. It was a jam-packed two weeks of information, sharing, learning and growing but the Illuminate platform made it so easy to follow along, discuss and ask questions. The students asked incredible questions, which sparked even deeper discussions on each day's topics. 

Towards the end of the course, the students were asked to share an assignment that they had been working on since day one, but remember it’s a two week course so they had started only 10 days prior. The series of images that the students produced inspired me on so many levels. Seriously, did I mention that I was blown away? I was! I offered each student honest and heartfelt feedback and critique -- but what impressed me so much was how dedicated they all were to working on the assignment. They were SERIOUS about this class, which made my heart so happy. So today, I want to feature a few of the students projects (but they really were all so good). Each student started working on a concept at the beginning of class and this was their resulting series, 10 days later...

  Lauri Tripaldi  |  IMPRESSIONS OF SELF

Lauri TripaldiIMPRESSIONS OF SELF

  Tricia Ramsay  | FINDING HOPE

Tricia Ramsay | FINDING HOPE

  Yasmeen Strang  | THE TUB DIARIES

Yasmeen Strang | THE TUB DIARIES

  Cindy Alvarez  | RESCUE DOGS

Cindy Alvarez | RESCUE DOGS

  Melissa Hogan   | THE CRACKS THAT LET LIGHT IN

Melissa Hogan  | THE CRACKS THAT LET LIGHT IN

I wanted to share a special note about Melissa and her workshop journey, which I am sharing with her permission. She emailed me on day two or three and said that she didn’t know if she could continue on, as it was just too much. We talked a bit about what was going on and strategies in moving forward. I told her that I knew she could do it, if her heart was in it. Well, she not only continued on, she did so fiercely and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Sometimes it just takes a little support and encouragement and I’m grateful that was there for her, to urge her on. 

I am absolutely honored to be able to teach, guide, share and inspire and I take my role as a teacher and mentor very seriously — each and every time. To all my students, thank you of entrusting me with your time, energy, hearts and minds; I am beyond grateful for the opportunity. I look forward to the next time!

xo,

Deb Schwedhelm | instructor of Project Development & Fine Art

Spotlight on... the students of Coming Home.

It's one thing to film documentary and lifestyle images in your own home, in a space where you feel comfortable, where you know the light inside and out and where the subjects are always readily around when an image presents itself. It's quite another thing however to walk into another person's home, not know the subjects as well, have to get familiar with the layout and light (fast) and capture that same unrehearsed, candid vibe.

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