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, an 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.
At age 19, Kendra Rostvedt set out to sell snowboard gear out of a storage closet. She opened her first bona fide retail shop in 1998, operating under the ethos that boardsports should remain accessible to anybody who wants to try them. Today, the walls of Thrifty Stick Boardshop are lined with longboards, snowboards, and skateboard decks. Skaters can peruse seasonal apparel from more than 50 brands—including Gnu, Volcom, and DC—or bring in equipment to the repair shop, where technicians tune up skis with hot wax and fasten wheels to busted hoverboards so they won't be completely useless.
Pitter Patter Pix's award-winning founder has captured artistic images of over 2,000 babies and their families with in-studio portraits and on-location shots, and has used her expertise to train hundreds of photographers. During her workshops, she teaches parents how to nab the best possible pictures of their children—whether they're using high-end equipment, a camera phone, or a Diane Arbus impersonator—through lighting techniques, posing, and props.
Every performer has a different goal. Recognizing this, the teaching staff at Academy of the Arts-Denver (each a professional in his or her respective field) designs all of their lesson plans around their students' individual goals. These highly personalized plans shape the approach to the school's age-specific, professional and recreational group acting and vocal classes. The teaching staff also uses their 75 years of accumulated experience to focus on talent development, whether students want to break into the business, or perform for the joy of it. Private lessons help build proficiency in guitar, bass, drums, and music production. Though lessons focus on specific technical training, the teachers encourage creative experimentation no matter the genre. Former students have established careers in TV, Broadway, Film, and Music. As they learn, Academy of the Arts-Denver's students are also encouraged to take part in rehearsals and performances.
Founded in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1996 by pet owners who were sick of bothering neighbors to care for their furry charges when they were busy or away, Out-U-Go! keeps beloved animals happy when their owners are unavailable. Certified members of Pet Sitter International, Out-U-Go’s fully licensed and bonded pet professionals undergo a rigorous screening process, putting in time at the company's Dog Walk University to learn how to deal with willful pets, calmly handle emergencies, and internalize animals’ fear of vacuums. New customers start off with a free meet and greet, with sitters coming to the house to meet dogs, cats, and smaller critters, and discuss special needs and routines. Services range from daily walks to full-time housesitting and pet taxi rides to groomers, vets, and kennels.