But first, let me take a selfie…
I’ve got nothing against the selfie. But in an attempt to stop my nearly-teen from clogging up my phone, his phone, his dad’s phone, you name it, with literally hundreds of odd-angled pictures of himself, I handed him over for a day – hoorah! – into the capable hands of Cynthia Nolan at Shoot Me Studios in Berkhamsted. Her one-day course for ‘tweens and teens’ seemed like something he’d love, and something that might, just might, mean he’ll start taking pictures of something other than his own face.
Cynthia Nolan, who founded and runs the studio, has serious photography pedigree – her work’s been featured in ‘Vogue’ (oooh!) and she completely won over my son when she casually mentioned having photographed Olly Murs. He was less impressed about Karen Millen and Matthew Pinsent, but perked up a bit again at the mention of Patrick Vieira. She’s also got a psychology background and has a great way with people. Anyone willing to spend a day with six of other people’s teenagers already has my admiration, mind you, even without all the rest.
And they had a blast. The morning was spent getting to know their cameras – or, in my H’s case, my camera – and learning about the technical bits: shutter speed, ISOs, aperture, all that stuff. After lunch (which was included – hoorah for not having to make a packed lunch!), they headed out and about to put their new knowledge to work.
H came home with lots of pictures of the canal – which I suppose makes a change – but there was a real sense that he was trying out different ways of taking them, different effects, and so on, and he could talk through them quite knowledgeably when he was showing us them at home later. There was also a perfect opportunity for action shots (and letting off some steam) at the park.
Back at the studio, the group – four girls, two boys, ranging from 11 to 16 – set up their own modelling session. I couldn’t help noticing that H had several shots of one of the young ladies in particular, but I’m choosing to believe that he was focusing on the technical aspects of the session and nothing else.
When I turned up to collect him – and, of course, embarrass him horribly simply by asking if he’d had a good time – they were busy editing the photos that they’d taken, reflecting on what had worked and what hadn’t. It was great to see, actually.
Shoot Me Studios run all kinds of courses – and they’re repeating this one during the February half term. They’re also doing a day for tweens and teens on movie-making, along the same lines, which sounds great, too. There are courses for adults, too – introduction of photography, that sort of thing – and they sometimes run days aimed specifically at girls that aim to overcome that ‘I hate how I look in photos’ anxiety, focusing on improving body image along with the technical photography bits.
Has H stopped taking selfies? No, of course he hasn’t. Does he take better pictures now? Definitely.