Free photography camp Aug. 2-5 for BIPOC youth

A free summer camp that will teach the basics of photography to Snohomish County BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) youth ages 12-18 is being held at Mill Creek’s Mixed coffee shop Aug. 2-5 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Participants with various levels of experience who are interested in photography will receive hands-on experiences, a chance to create their own mini-portfolio and also learn how the medium can be used to fight injustice.

Ashley Kay Smith, owner/operator of Last Forever Images, will be teaching the lessons in partnership with the Communities of Color Coalition (C3) and Mixed Coffee and Community.

“We want to get students to think about photography as something they can do whether it be a hobby or a career, but also using photography as a way to use your voice,” Smith said.

It’s recommended that students bring a digital camera, notebook, laptop and sack lunch — although there will be a limited number of cameras available for participants to borrow. They will learn the basics of using a digital camera including lighting, composition and photo editing software.

Smith said that after determining each student’s level of previous experience, the lessons will be structured to help each individual advance their own goals in photography. Participants will also examine how they can use photography to help address issues that affect the community and fight injustice. Students will have the opportunity to display their photos in the coffee shop afterward and also share their work with the community at an upcoming art walk.

Smith said she was strategic in choosing the location and making sure to support Mixed, which is a Black-owned, woman-owned business. In addition to class instruction inside the coffee shop, students will also be given the opportunity to apply what they learn by taking photos in different types of settings nearby, such as the Mill Creek Town Center and nature trails in McCollum Pioneer Park.

“They’ll have a mixture of nature, but then also some downtown feel, and the main focus is portrait photography since that’s what I do,” Smith noted. “But generally what they will learn about is the exposure triangle, which is your (camera’s) ISO, aperture and shutter speed.” Lessons will focus on how those three elements are used to capture good photos and then transition into further knowledge involving image composition.

She said the classes will also examine how photography “has been able to be used as a catalyst of change” in various formats.

“The camp is all about, yes — learn photography,” Smith said. “But also, photography is more than just pressing the shutter button, that’s why it’s called ‘Beyond the Shutter.’” She said she will also focus on each individual’s motivation when they are capturing images. “This program really surrounds everything I love, which is photography, working with youth, but also fighting for change,” she added.

Registration and more information about next week’s camp can be viewed here.

Mixed: Coffee and Community is located in Mill Creek at 800 164th St. S.E., Unit N.

— By Nathan Blackwell

  1. As a “BIPOC” photographer, I cannot think of a less relevant factor to photography than my race. The only possible reason to bring race into photography is if you are teaching a portraiture class and will be going over the ways to properly color correct for “BIPOC” skin tones.

    1. Thanks for clearing that up Kashf. Also big thanks to Ashley Kay Smith for the efforts and inclusiveness.

      1. Inclusiveness? Eligibility for participation in this event is based solely on skin color…..pretty sure that is textbook racism.

        1. Exactly. Not letting kids participate solely on the color of their skin is the definition of racism. Can Asian kids participate even though they aren’t considered BIPOC? Is this the kind of thing that should be reported in the portal? If the camp is ‘all about yes learn photography’ than skin color shouldn’t matter.

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