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.
Capturing True Emotion is driven by a dynamic band of instructors who rove across the continent with cameras and teaching skills in hand. By fusing their narrative, tech-savvy minds together into one oversize head, the educators provide comprehensive guidance on both camera operation and creative visualization, giving participants complete control over all of their camera settings. During the hours spent in the company of other pupating shutterbugs, students convene at a tantalizing location to practice skills such as controlling depth of field by adjusting the aperture, composing a family portrait so there's not always a burning zeppelin in the background, using alternative angles to avoid red eye, and other techniques.
Paintings of bowls overflowing with fruit, majestic Southwestern mesas, and a white horse against an orange backdrop line the brick walls at Mitchell School of Fine Arts. Beneath those examples, students of all ages and levels learn to create their own magnum opuses under the tutelage of instructors, who channel degrees in fine art, publication in books and magazines, and a range of other credentials.
In classes, the teachers focus on topics such as landscape painting or classical drawing to help pupils master the nuances of a particular style and portray the beauty of a blossoming flower or a dirt bike that runs on flowers. An animal pastels class for youngsters inspires participants to grab soft drawing implements and sketch colorful fauna on paper. Private lessons are available, as are commissioned portraits from the faculty themselves, who will render the likeness of a loved one.
Local artists reign at Painting Above the Bar, where their work adorns the walls and their expertise is shared during BYOB painting classes. During each evening session, students grab supplied brushes and paints and create their own take on the lesson’s themed project, which ranges from natural vistas to holiday scenes. For a spin on the average party, the staff oversees private gatherings, after which all guests can take home their creations.
Over his 25-year career in snapshottery, Jimmy Loyd has accumulated an impressive list of skills as freelance photojournalist for the Houston Chronicle, portraitist, and studio owner. An early adapter to the digital-camera revolution, he can capture digital or analog family portraits, professional headshots, and in-the-moment sports images with ease. Loyd also employs his expertise in intermittently scheduled classes and photo tours, which might occur on-location at the Houston Zoo or, for more candid shots, out in the wilderness where animals don't have access to stylists.
A&A Video Productions, Inc. tells stories. At special events, its staff take on the roles of filmmakers, capturing things in true cinematic fashion. They find the most visually striking angles and shots for each moment. For the complete story, they also help clients reenact key moments, such as the first time a couple met. The experts then edit everything together into a final product that would be right at home on a movie screen, complete with graphics and musical scores.