Since she was a child, Pla Schneider dreamed of writing and illustrating her own children's book. She earned a degree in visual communications and exhibited some of her work in boutiques and galleries, but she couldn't find that spark of inspiration. She was able to find a muse in her daughter, who inspired Pla's first book, Sassy Cassie A True Little Princess. At Sugar-n-Spice Studios, Schneider helps art students circumvent creative blocks by guiding them step-by-step in a fun, playful environment. Patrons dab acrylic paints onto stretched canvases, rendering images of flower-filled parks, technicolor giraffes, or mermaids swimming alongside seahorses and other imaginary animals.
Fine Art Studio is where students learn how to paint and draw or strengthen their existing skills. But the studio isn't just a school; since 1976, it's also been a working graphic design house and photography studio, producing everything from logos and brochures to fully designed web sites.
The bride stood under the photographer’s lights, resplendent in her wedding gown, as her family looked on from a distance. As she and her photographer, M. Chen, prepared for the shoot, she was handed a package—a prewedding gift from her soon-to-be husband. When she lifted the lid, she immediately burst into tears. Inside laid a photo of a great dane puppy—the dog she’d always wanted, which her husband planned to give her on their wedding day. As she ran to hug her mother, Mr. Chen ran after, shooting image after image, capturing the exact moment she fell into her mother’s arms. These quick reflexes have been honed through his nearly 30 years as a sports photographer and professional fly swatter, and he draws on photojournalistic techniques to compose a traditional portrait or snap once-in-a-lifetime, candid moments.
Regardless of specific approaches, he consistently draws from the landscape style of Ansel Adams and the dramatic lighting techniques of Monte Zucker. His work as a photojournalist and private portrait photographer has earned him more than 300 publications in the glossy pages of New York Daily News, Popular Photography, ESPN Magazine, and Professional Photographers of America magazine. When not snapping on-location engagement shoots, family portraits, or boudoir sessions, he passes on his technique through traveling photography seminars, hands-on workshops, and by gently tapping the heads of his students. Though formerly designed only for professional-level photographers, these classes instill confidence and camera basics in beginners. As he frequently finds new class examples and takes feedback from his students, Mr. Chen frequently fine-tunes the curriculum after each seminar.
Julie Diebolt Price, president of JDP Photography, puts friendly faces on websites and brochures by crafting portraits for corporations, entrepreneurs, and organizations. In addition to helping clients such as Standard Pacific Homes, Women Helping Women, and Orange County Rescue Mission, Julie chronicles programs and events for the National Association of Women Business Owners, and she rubs elbows with august institutions such as the Professional Photographers of California and the Professional Photographers of America. Despite a successful professional career—her portfolio is filled with group portraits, product images for advertisements, and stock photos—she has not neglected her artistic side: a piece she dubbed “Tableau at Badling” landed a spot in the PPA’s 2010 International Photographic Competition general collection. When she isn't snapping photos, she teaches others how to use cameras such as DSLR, point-and-shoot, and camerae obscurae.
Orange County visual artist Don Le has a passion for expressing his subjects' inner beauty and personality. In his career in photography and video production, Le's portfolio spans across a wide range of styles, from wedding compositions to celebrity and fashion photoshoots to family portraits. Le's pieces often splash with a dreamy saturation of color, and he can upgrade a shot with his playful, inventive use of lighting, computer-generated backgrounds, and various angles. During three-hour photography courses, Le teaches students how to visualize and create photo compositions of their very own. Those courses include pointers in both outdoor and indoor photography, so you can properly capture Bigfoot in either the woods or a department store.
Fibo Kids Art Academy’s instructors teach kids aged 4–18 the finer points of art with the Fibonacci method, crafting individual curricula within a peer setting, bolstered by doses of art history. They tailor the lessons to each student's interests, strengths, and weaknesses, placing kids in small groups for creative interaction with their peers.
To build a foundation for their skills, the instructors engage youngsters in in-depth art-history lessons that expose them to the paintings, drawings, and techniques of both past and current masters from movements such as impressionism and cubism. In addition to year-round afterschool classes, the academy offers one-week intensive summer camps that cover topics such as fashion design, anime and cartooning, and drawing on a sibling's face while he or she sleeps.
iWink Studios' squad of professional shutterbugs collaborates with clientele in front of and behind the lens with shoots, studio rentals, and photography courses. Offering both in-studio and on-location shoots at destinations throughout Orange County, photographers frame acting headshots, weddings, newborns, and boudoir models, all of whose sessions yield quality prints and retouched digital images. Meanwhile, novice photographers can rent cameras, lenses, and lighting equipment for their own shoot in one of iWink Studios' private 25'x41' or 27'x34' spaces. Studio rentals additionally supply guests with models, makeup artists, hairstylists, and personal training for smile muscles. Elsewhere, photography classes enrich apprentices in picture-taking techniques, with courses on digital-photography fundamentals, shooting with studio lights, and weekly workshops that cover a rotating range of topics.