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Budding North Shore photographers focus their lenses on nature

Artists For Kids students explore the theme 'Near and Far'
artists for kids photography

Since 1989, Artists For Kids has been creating an extensive art education for the children and youth of British Columbia.

Since 1996, it has run a fashion photography program, called the Artists for Kids Photo Enrichment program. This year, organizers have made the change from fashion to landscape photography.

Artists For Kids program co-ordinator and North Vancouver school district teacher Sean Clancy says “a few things led to the move.” One of the reasons he stated was, “The weather in April is unpredictable at best, which is fine for nature photography, but nerve-racking for fashion.”

Landscape photography captures the spaces in our world, whether they are vast or small. This year’s Artists For Kids Photo Enrichment program’s theme, “Near and Far,” captures the essence of that. Students travelled to several outdoor locations to shoot, along with Clancy, fellow Artists For Kids program co-ordinator Daylen Luchsinger, and professional nature and landscape photographer Jess Findlay, to help with any technical or creative problems they might have.

Michaela De Ciantis-Wong, an Argyle secondary student, says she “had one the best experiences of [her] life.”

I agree. This program pushed me, a predominately urban photographer, out of my comfort zone and into a completely new style of photography. We went to many beautiful locations, including Lighthouse Park and Cypress Falls, to shoot. The experience taught me, again in the words of De Ciantis-Wong, “You just have to look a little deeper, or turn around, or move a bit to your left or right, and BAM! the best picture is right there.”

In my, admittedly limited, experience, the best way to find the shot you’re looking for is by experimenting.

Findlay says he “really enjoyed working with all the students. Their enthusiasm and creativity was infectious!”

The teachers were with the students every step of the way, taking and editing their own photos, learning new tricks they hadn’t seen before, and supporting us from all sides as we learned and experimented. Clancy, who has been with Artists For Kids for 11 years, says, “It was exciting to do something new, with no idea if it would be a success or not.”

Whether the change from fashion to landscape photography is permanent or not is still under debate, Luchsinger says. “That is the question percolating in my mind currently. I think there are some definite areas as a teaching group we can improve on and make landscape photography even better next year, but there is also the draw to switching it up again to maybe something like urban or forgotten spaces.”

Clancy says he’d “like to continue with this program or a slight variation of it.” Findlay says he’d love to return if they continue with landscape photography, as would I.

The change was a major success, for the students involved as well as the instructors. I feel like I came out of the course with more skills as a photographer and a bigger perspective on the photography world as a whole.

Sierra Kolkman is a Grade 11 Argyle secondary student and has been part of the Artists For Kids Photo Enrichment program for one year.

Scroll through the photo gallery below or click here to see the students' work.