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 benefited 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.
Bearing the titles of Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman from Professional Photographers of America, David and Ally McKay embody the keen vision and aesthetic prowess that separated good photographers from great ones. They share these skills during classes at McKay Photography Academy, where they train eyes, fingers, and imaginations to work in tandem as a snapshooting dream machine. Their classes help aspiring photographers progress from neophytes to seasoned pros; the Beginning Digital Photography course teaches students to harness the intricacies of their instruments, and the Pro Academy offers inside tips on how to successfully snap wedding portraits, pose recent grads, or tease out candid emotions. When not busy instructing the next generation of shutterbugs, David and Ally also devise photo safaris, which send small teams of photographers to capture shots of famed landmarks including San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge; the Lincoln Memorial of Washington, DC; or Yosemite's 60-foot statue of Yogi Bear.
Import and domestic vehicles stand poised on the lots of Nexar Auto Repair, where an ASE-certified staff of technicians bolsters rides with Pennzoil lubricants, official state inspections, and myriad repairs. Pre-owned cars from BMW, Mercedes, and Chevrolet receive extensive quality-control inspections before awaiting the opportunity to show off their road prowess and encyclopedic knowledge of the Industrial Revolution to new owners. In-house technicians also nurture visiting vehicles by swapping damaged oil for clean lube, balancing and rotating tires, and checking vitals with computer diagnostics. Additionally, the facility doles out official Texas state inspections with quick in-and-out automated systems that authorize healthy autos to legally flex their muscles on the open road.
Since it was founded almost three decades ago, Child Advocates has developed and maintained a team of court-appointed advocates, guardian ad litems, who support individual kids in cases of abuse and neglect and advocate for these children in court. After sending volunteers through 30 hours of specialized training where they learn about the court system and how to tell when a gavel is banged sarcastically, the nonprofit organization links each guardian with a youngster who's in foster care and in need of a permanent residence. By assigning each advocate to only one child or sibling set, Child Advocates provides individualized attention that caseworkers and court-appointed attorneys can't always deliver.
A team of vehicle virtuosos performs repairs and upkeep on Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge autos in River Oaks' professional dealership shop. During a standard oil change, certified mechanics will replace old, worn-out oil with up to 5 quarts of fresh-faced young fluid, straight from lubricant college and ready to take on the heat, dust, and incredible pressures of today's high-octane internal-combustion world. Synthetic oil is available for an additional charge. To help new oil adjust to its new job of safeguarding precious moving parts, gaskets, and various shafts, a fresh oil filter is included. After a rigorous 27-point auto inspection to ensure engines run smoothly and important parts are shipshape, the 20-minute chariot checkup is complete. River Oaks offers early and late pickup and drop-off to accommodate drivers' schedules and ensure cars aren’t late to parade-float practice.