By Melissa Itzkowitz – TakeGreatPictures.com
Digital Photo Academy offers dozens of classes each month in over 20 cities throughout the country taught by over 60 professional photographers and photojournalists.
I took my first DPA class in Boston with Kathy Tarantola this past summer and loved it. My dad was recently given a DSLR after his brother realized that he was still walking around with his Honeywell Pentax, circa 1972, approximately, for 34 years. Three years later, my dad still didn’t have a clue as to how to use his camera. As the 2011 summer intern at DPA, I suggested that we take Kathy’s Intermediate class together so that she could help him transition from his film camera to his digital camera, and so that I could learn more specifics about the new DSLR that I had just purchased. Kathy led a fantastic workshop, from the detailed powerpoint to answering all of our questions, to experimenting with us both inside and outside of the classroom. There were about eight of us in the class, all with totally different backgrounds and ages, but at similar photography skill levels, which made for an intimate classroom environment and allowed Kathy to give each and every one of us personalized attention. Throughout the four hours of the workshop, we really bonded as a group while Kathy taught us the photography basics, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, and the buttons and functions of our cameras, like the different manual modes, the white balance, and the histogram. When I returned to DPA headquarters in New York on Monday, I couldn’t wait to share what a wonderful experience my dad and I had with Kathy and the other DPA students.
After learning more about the buttons and functions of my camera, I decided to take another class, this time in New York, about composition to better understand what makes a powerful image and how to improve my technique. I signed up for Understanding Composition with Adam Stoltman and headed down to Chelsea. Another intimate classroom setting, we got to know each other, the types of cameras we each used, from DSLRs to point-and-shoots to iPhones, and why we were all interested in improving our photography. Adam explained some of the most important and interesting compositional techniques to keep in mind as we set up our shots. He discussed using “leading lines” to help pull your viewers’ eyes in a particular direction, accentuating color and contrast to make a vivid photograph, and getting up close and personal to your subjects. Looking at the many examples of close, personal photographs, I was inspired to better incorporate this technique into my own body of work…..