Ever since he began playing with the family Kodak as a toddler, Mark Chamberlin’s passion for photography has been insatiable. He opened his first studio in 1977, and soon earned numerous awards for his portrait, wedding, and scenic photography. By 1995, he felt ready to move on from the studio business and switched his career focus to adult education. As the director and primary instructor of SmarterPics, which he founded in 2008, Mark teaches all level of student the ins and outs of digital photography.
In classes and private tutoring sessions, Mark instructs students through a combination of verbal instruction and hands-on practice. His classes range in subject, from introductory DSLR-camera courses to flash photography and controlling bright sun, where students learn more productive ways to work with light than attempting to harvest it from within. Subjects in his tutoring sessions also run the gamut from camera basics to digital editing tips, depending on the specific needs of his clients.
Not many antique stores have a more fitting location than one housed in a mid-nineteenth-century barn. At the aptly named The Barn Antiques, a dizzying array of vintage paraphernalia fills the space, some of it spilling out into the colorful, landscaped garden in the form of retro white plant holders and birdhouses that attract robins who trill Vaudeville-era tunes. Amid the treasures, one might find pottery pieces by McCoy and Red Wing, handwoven rag rugs, nostalgic postcards, and oil lamps—all of them culled from the collections of celebrated antiques dealers.
The Art Experience, a full-service art supply store, wields their aesthetic expertise to professionally custom frame whatever clients wish to make wall-ready. Capable of handling large-size frames such as 40"x50", the staff collaborates with quality glass ($15+), hundreds of mat boards ($14+), and multifarious metal and wood molding options ($7+/foot) to showcase décor-to-be of any shape or size at its cutest angle. The volume of in-house materials ensures that newly sandwiched and bordered pieces return to their owners as quickly as possible. With a custom-framed piece, blank walls can finally cover their nudity stylishly with sleek, snappily bordered diplomas, cereal boxes, and ATM receipt collages.
In the 1965, Dr. Harold Furlong approached the town of Pontiac about creating a space where children could see, make, and learn about art. Nearly 50 years later, the Pontiac Creative Arts Center has stayed true to this original mission. Behind the Creative Arts Center's stone archway lies a variety of classrooms where seasoned faculty members create a relaxed environment that encourages free expression during classes in topics as diverse as ceramics, glass-blowing, and acting. Exhibition galleries feature year-round and rotating exhibits by local and national artists. In the past, these have highlighted quilts and paintings, vintage photographs, and exhibits highlighting art by African American or Latino artists. In addition to holding on-site arts education programs and special events, the non-profit organization also sends its instructors to local schools to teach classes and give performances.
The 5,100-square-foot studio at Photo Studio Group is a blank canvas upon which a community of visiting and member artists stages their craft. For an hourly rate, photographers can click their shutters at a professional studio backdrop and use lights, backgrounds, and grip equipment on a first-come, first-served basis. A series of workshops bring the ins and outs of the industry into focus, including a class on studio techniques that covers set design, hair and makeup collaboration, and teaching mannequins to hold a pose. Photo foundations workshops focus on topics such as camera equipment and composition, and Photoshop workshops introduce students to the image-enhancing software and other Creative Suite applications. Photo Studio Group also hosts a pro lecture series, where esteemed photographers and designers chat about their techniques in a casual setting.
After working for 24 years at what he calls a "real" job, Bob DiTommaso left the office environment to pursue his passion: photography. It wasn't an easy switch—his career move required long hours and lots of hard work—but Bob says he wouldn't change a thing. The effort paid off in the end, when he opened his own studio, Robert DiTommaso Photography.
Bob works mainly in family and children's photography, but his interests run the gamut from portraits to landscape and sports photography. Regardless of subject, the seasoned shutterbug brings a keen eye for capturing the ineffable in each and every shoot. And he prints his images in-house on a wide-format professional ink-jet printer.
When he's not taking great photos, Bob is teaching others to do so during photography workshops that take place in-studio or on-location. He even leads photography safaris, multi-day trips that trek through national parks and other breathtaking locales in search of the perfect shot of Bigfoot buying deodorant.