Laura Monahan comes from an artistic family, and spent her youth practicing sculpture, oil painting, pottery, and what turned out to be her ultimate passion: photography. Her ability to preserve candid moments has left an indelible impression—she has a published portfolio on three continents and product lines appearing at national retailers such as Hallmark and JCPenney. Laura’s photo shoots always take place outdoors, capturing newborns, older kids, families, and makeshift popsicle-stick families in soft, natural lighting and poses that never appear unnatural. Her settings span the country from San Diego’s foamy beaches to Denver’s red-rock sunsets and into the Midwest’s autumn leaves.
Englewood Camera's expert imagists pass on hard-won photo wisdom to aspiring shutterbugs in small, hands-on classes. The Basics of Digital Photography class acquaints fledgling photographers with the conceptual essentials and technical principles of camerawork, including framing, focus, film exposure, and using the flash to temporarily blind uncooperative children. From class discussions, pupils can learn from the experience of fellow shutter squires and develop an infectious curiosity about photography that will endure after the three-hour class.
Behind the windows of the Sipping n’ Painting studio lies an intimate workshop where soft hanging lanterns spotlight guests laughing, chatting, and sipping wine as they paint canvases. Seasoned instructors stroll across the rustic hardwood floors, offering step-by-step guidance and tips to painters as they complete vivid reproductions of majestic mountains, beautiful flowers, or plucky sausage vendors. Each night, classes focus on a different featured painting, though participants who feel comfortable doing so are encouraged to work on their own original pieces. The instructors keep classes lively and fun, encouraging socializing and providing each guest with a complimentary glass of beer or wine and light snacks.
At the tender age of 6, Mark Cafiero received his first camera. Though it was broken and filled with cartoons his father had drawn of Mark and his sisters, that camera sparked an early interest in photography. Since then, that spark has erupted into a full-fledged passion, leading Mark to become a professional photographer who has snapped photos for hundreds of clients, including celebrities and professional athletes. To share his spark with others, Mark founded Chimpsy, a resource that helps photographers of all experience levels calibrate their skills with casual in-person and online classes.
Available in more than 30 cities across the nation, Chimpsy's two-hour crash course features a hands-on shooting session and campfire-style presentation on topics ranging from camera anatomy to photo composition. For home study, online classes help photographers—beginners and aspiring pros alike—get more from their pictures through two-hour video tutorials that cover photo-editing software, shooting tips and techniques, and steps on how to build a photography business. From the comfort of their bedrooms, students can watch these professional photographer-led tutorials live or replay previously recorded sessions. Along with instructional classes, Chimpsy offers shutterbugs a place to submit photos for contests with monthly prizes or for feedback from peers, pros, and sentient picture frames.
Merissa Pratt honed her eye for composition and color from behind the lens of a camera, but it didn't take her long to apply her talents to painting as well. To help others discover their penchant for the brush, she began Painting Parties by Merissa, leading groups in recreating her personal paintings. She travels to the location of the party host’s choice, transforming a room in a client's home or office into a temporary studio as she covers precious floors with drop cloths and fills the space with easels, paints, and brushes. She invites guests to supply snacks and, most importantly, their favorite libations to help draw out creative impulses. At the end of the session, she and her crew handle the cleanup while the newly initiated painters admire their frame-ready works of art and master gallery-friendly phrases such as, “This really speaks to me,” and “No, seriously—I think this painting is talking.”
An active Denver photographer since 1985, Bart Levy imparts hard-won wisdom to aspiring photographers in upbeat, three- or four-hour workshops. In these workshops, the seasoned shutterbug demystifies DSLR cameras, teaching pupils how to harness ISO speeds, manual settings, and flash settings to produce crisp, memorable images of lens caps. Students also learn how to compose visually striking snapshots and Levy will also demonstrate the differences in digital file formats, so acolytes can upload and share pictures without setting their web browsers on fire.