Ben Chen has experienced his share of success in his nearly 30-year photography career—his work has been published in such publications as Cosmopolitan, The Los Angeles Times, and ESPN Magazine, and he has lent his expertise to some of the nation's largest corporations, including Procter & Gamble and The American Red Cross. In 2006, the photographer began to notice that more and more novices were purchasing complex DSLR cameras, and that gave him an idea. Chen decided to share his wealth of knowledge with aspiring photographers by creating the 4-Hour Newbie Photography Boot Camp, which teaches students how to shoot manually with their DSLRs and create artistic, professional-quality photos. Since then, more than 5,000 students in 20 cities throughout the country have benefitted from these classes. In 2013, he acquiesced to student demand and created Part II of the class, which goes beyond photography basics by diving into post-production techniques. Nowadays, students can take both Part I and Part II in the same day, helping them go from student to master in less time than most action-movie montages.
A gallery of masterpieces showcases stunningly virtuosic renderings—which are especially impressive considering they were created by kids. While fostering a friendly, cheerful atmosphere, instructors teach classical art skills to classes of up to 12 students at a time. During weekly classes, the skilled instructors demonstrate how to realistically illustrate animals, figures, and still-life scenes using traditional media. "Creativity follows mastery" is the KidsArt philosophy, so they designed the sort of program they imagine the old masters would have approved. Planting graphite sticks and paintbrushes in pupils' hands, instructors teach color mixing, show students how to break an image into its component parts, and instill necessary behaviors such as focus and patience. Programs include individualized drawing and painting lessons and special-topic workshops, such as clay sculpture, figure drawing, and Anime/cartooning.
Felicity Christopher sees the world through a kaleidoscope of colorful shapes and personalities. Armed with her Canon camera, she roams weddings and special events such as live music shows, capturing the emotions of the moment in sharp, vibrant images. Whether she's working outdoors or in the studio, her mastery of lighting lends perfection to family gatherings or fashion shoots of the sun in Versace. Fine-art photography is in her repertoire as well, and she applies that commitment to craft to each and every session.
The meaning of art may be subjective, but Mission: Renaissance believes that the basic, technical skills needed to create art are learnable, regardless of a student’s age or experience. The instructors at the studio, which was originally founded in 1975, illuminate the Gluck Method, which focuses on the classic rendering techniques that the great masters used on their first computers. The classes can accommodate students as young as 5, and they explore a number of different mediums—including charcoal, watercolors, and oils—while giving attendees the experience they need to appreciate art, as well as create it. Spread across 19 studio locations in southern California, attendance is capped at around six students per instructor, which allows them to offer artists more personalized feedback and more fitting nicknames.
Classes at Creative World Art School don't simply teach the skills of painting, sketching, and sculpting. Instead, the non-profit's instructors encourage children and teens to view each project as an exercise in critical thinking and self-expression. This emphasis on enrichment above all else helps students develop a sense of curiosity and creativity that can help kids succeed outside of the studio as well. To accomplish this, the teachers lead age-appropriate programs that utilize both traditional and contemporary media—everything from drawing and book-binding to digital computer animation and e-book-binding.
"I am artistry"—that's the translation of Je M'appelle Artistry, as well as owner Shonny's philosophy. Shonny works as a photographer, designer, and instructor, often combining all three passions. Snapping photos with her Nikon D600, she captures intimate boudoir scenes, romantic wedding images, and fanciful kids' shots, focusing on portraits. She extends this love of portraits into group or private workshops, where students learn to incorporate natural light and elements into their pictures. Her photos have been published in the cloth-diapering book Changing Diapers; she also designs her own cloth-diaper and clothing patterns.