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Hone your Photography Skills @ your library!
By Rebecca Walden

From the interested novice to the accomplished amateur, and all levels in between, teen photography programs at the library offer a little something for everyone. Encourage the young person in your life to check out the library sponsored photo contests and programs in your community. The results will inspire you!

Improve Your Craft

Many libraries, including Miami-Dade Public, sponsor annual photography contests, often drawing applicants in the hundreds.

“This is the fourth year and the response has been very good,” says Vinora Hamilton, Library Outreach & Programming Coordinator. “We had more than 200 participants from schools and various art programs within the community.”

“In some cases, participants were not regular users of the library. Hopefully this [experience] will encourage them to take advantage of all the wonderful resources we offer.”

Up next? The library is hosting a Teen Poetry Contest in April.


Showcase Your Skill

Participating in these types of programs can also provide your teen a creative platform where they can share their art on a community-wide scale.

At Cincinnati Public, contestants are recognized at an award ceremony, and winning photos are posted to the Library’s Flickr page, their teen Web site – TeenSpace – and are also included in the Virtual Library.

“We have had very positive responses from teens, parents, and teachers stating how great it is that the Library offers a creative outlet for teens and recognizes their work in such a public way,” says TeenSpot Manager Jennifer Korn.

“2011 marked the 8th year for the Teen Photography contest.  The contest was the brainchild of the Main Library’s Teen Advisory Board (OTAB) circa 2002-3 as a way to celebrate Teen Read Week. Each year features a different theme – this year’s theme was ‘Go Wild!’”

“We partnered with the Hamilton County Parks District to lead wildlife photography workshops. Parks employees presented a program and also brought an animal from their rehab facilities so patrons could interact with and photograph the animal.” 

Korn and her staff continue to up the ante for the photography contest. With Chipotle already in partnership as a sponsor (they provide gift certificates to contest winners), the caliber of workshop training is soon expected to include the technology resources of the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

Score Swag!

Winners of the Charleston County Public Library’s “Here I Am!” Contest indeed won big.

“We established a partnership with The Charleston Center for Photography, who agreed to sponsor the program, judge the photos and provide an all-day photo camp as a prize for all the Honorable Mentions, and who also put us in touch with their contacts at Nikon - who generously donated three high-quality digital cameras to award to the teens who took the top three photos,” says Andria L. Amaral, Young Adult Services Manager. “The teen whose photo won First Place also received a special private photography lesson with Stacy Pearsall, Director of the Charleston Center for Photography.” 

“Nearly 50 young adults submitted photos interpreting the theme “Here I Am!” in literal and abstract ways, where they shared unique perspectives on their lives, communities and the world around them. We received entries from all parts of the county, many from teens who had never participated in a library program before.”

“The top three photos and 17 Honorable Mentions were displayed in the lobby of the Main Library in the fall, and that exhibit brought many teens (who had submitted their entries at branch locations) and their families to the Main Library - exposing them to the vast array of materials and services available at Main - for the first time.”

“The 20 teens who received top honors were immensely proud of their achievement. During the month that their photos were on display at the Main Library, we frequently saw them at the exhibit, surrounded by a group of beaming family members, and posing for photos standing next to their images. I don't think any of them had ever received recognition for their photography before, and this helped them realize a talent they hadn't known they had.”

“Nearly all the winners attended the photography camp, and I received glowing reports from the teens and their parents. The mother of one of the top three winners told me that now, photography was her daughter's "thing," and that she was constantly using the camera she won. The staff at the Charleston Center for Photography had told the young lady that she had a "great eye" and was a "true artist," and this was helping shape her self-image.”

For Amaral, the program is a perfect example of the library’s mission realized. “This event was a great way to help teens discover hidden talents, to encourage them to think about their lives and surroundings from unique perspectives, and to publicly celebrate their achievements.”


Sources List

Digital photography for teens by Marc Campbell, Dave Long

Click : the ultimate photography guide for generation now by Charlie Styr and Maria Wakem

Photojojo! : insanely great photo projects and DIY Ideas by Amit Gupta and Kelly Jensen

BetterPhoto basics : the absolute beginner's guide to taking photos like the pros by Jim Miotke and Betterphoto.com

The photographer's eye : composition and design for better digital photos by Michael Freeman


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