The Memory Photo Gallery photographers have been capturing life's memorable moments for five years. They shoot weddings and events, take portraits of families and children, and they specialize in photos that use natural lighting and a variety of perspectives. They capture images in their own studio or on location, encouraging children to play with favorite toys, individuals to loosen up with various poses, and engaged couples to stroll or somersault happily down a river walk.
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.
Barbara Kaufman created her first painting in 1980. It was in a process class where she sat in front of a blank sheet of paper and felt “A push. And this fear. And all this possibility and absolutely nothing at the same moment.” So she began scribbling, and something happened. “Something always happens,” she says. “That white paper never remains white.” It was an exhilarating feeling––an infectious feeling she hasn’t lost in more than 30 years as her paintings have accumulated and signposted her life as an artist, a teacher, a mother, and a cofounder of The Painting Studio. Barbara wasn’t born with a brush in her hand––she came to painting later in life––yet she'd carved a path straight toward it without realizing. She had nurtured a teacher's patience as a certified speech therapist, played with ingredients and recipes while running a vegetarian restaurant in Europe, and found the joy of a journey when hitchhiking to San Francisco. These seemingly disparate events form, as she describes, a relationship with creativity—with life—that focuses on the exploration rather than on the product. It’s a relationship that she carries into the studio, where she encourages students to play with their own creative energy rather than work with visual prompts or technical advice. In a talk she gave entitled “Stepping Into the Unknown” at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, she acknowledges that “the process doesn’t listen to me.” But then adds that the key to her unprocessed method is, in fact, “the letting go of control––the kicking and screaming.” Since her first painting kicked and screamed its way onto a blank piece of paper in 1980, Barbara has helped “ignite the creative desires” of students from diverse stations in life. And above all else, her workshops are adventures, though without the typical treasure map and jetpack. Together, she and her students spend time exploring a life that is nothing but their own.
The skilled instructors at Inspire Music Center encourage students to express themselves through song during beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons in a variety of instruments, including electric guitar, cello, French horn, and voice. Its ensemble of music graduates and seasoned performers uses its extensive musical knowledge and collection of 20 different instruments to teach aspiring musicians proper playing techniques, practice methods, theory, and how to topple glass houses with high notes. In addition to honing students' music-playing skills, instructors prep advanced pupils for professional auditions, instrumental competitions, and concerts.
Before each student starts siphoning out his or her inner sonatas, he or she will fill out an application and learn about the course curriculum and academy policies during a private orientation (a $25 value) with the student’s parents and Director Thomas Skousen. Each student is then integrated into the creative-instruction procedure, which weaves four students at a time through stations of one-on-one instruction and computer exercises, building technique training, sight reading, and music-theory knowledge in addition to mastering songs (a $130 per month value). The result is a rigorous yet fun and rewarding class that fosters community, which each budding contrapuntist celebrates at the month's end with in-class performances and ceremonial wig powderings.
Recently featured in the Los Altos Town Crier, Fun With Media's three intrepid instructors translate their passion for pixels into hands-on digital-art classes for kids 8 (third grade) and up, transforming them from passive perusers to dynamic designers in the digital media world. Using their own experiences and interests as a foundation, multimedia-curious moppets master photo, art, animation, and movie-making software, expressing themselves without thrusting the opinions of paint-covered hands onto a newly upholstered couch.