I had a great opportunity last week to “photo mentor” a high school student who is the daughter of a friend. By the discussions we had, it sounds like she is enrolled in a very creative, free-thinking high school that encourages students to be open-minded, wordly and expressive of their personal pursuits. Every Wednesday she is allowed to attend school or not in lieu of working on a project that helps her discover her passions. She was interested in learning more about photography so her mom asked if I would be interested in showing her a few tricks. Me? A photo mentor? I was honored and thrilled!
Because the day was overcast/chilly and not so great for landscape photos of the omnipresent mountains in Colorado, I decided to take her to the Denver Botanic Gardens – a place where, I’m ashamed to admit, I have never been. I’ve always wanted to go, but never trekked out, was always too busy with work that I just wanted to crash at home on the weekends and not to mention this place is a good hour away from where we live. But now that I’m home free, I really want to take advantage of all the things/places around me. I knew that this place would be a great spot and it did not disappoint. It was certainly smaller than I expected, but then again, it’s the middle of winter and about 1/8 of the place is indoors, the rest outside where things are a crispy, uninspiring brown. Didn’t matter…we spent a good 3 hours photographing the garden entrance (a waterfall/pond adorned with tulips and greens) and the rain-forest inspired dome. I felt like I was in Costa Rica again and recognized many of the plants/flowers from my trip there this past summer. The best part was that it was mid-week and we only came across a handful of other visitors so we were allowed to spread our tripods out, take our time and photograph to our hearts content.
One of the things that I informed my mentee is that you often times have to take a hundred pictures until you find one that you really like and this was no exception – I took over 500 photos and only ended up with a handful of keepers, but even that is a success in my book. The above pics are representative of some of those keepers…the rest I’ve posted on my site: www.greenearthimages.com
I really enjoyed myself that day, sharing my knowledge and techniques but at the same time being brutally honest about the fact that I’m self-taught and still have a LOT to learn, that I still don’t understand my camera entirely, that I’m still learning about lighting and composition and that I’m, well, still a student. But I guess that’s the best part, because if you know it all, isn’t that when you get bored? Better to leave the door open so that you can continually learn and extend yourself.
By the way, I learned that the Botanic Gardens as well as many other museums offer free admission once a quarter (or even once a month) to allow those on a budget the opportunity to engage in the beauty and art around them. I encourage you to check out your local spots to see if they offer similar programs (or go on regular days and consider it your contribution to the arts!)