Many camera companies do charitable outreach work, including sponsoring photo contests, offering scholarships, and doing grassroots projects. Canon does a bit of everything, and the company’s work with the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts is a significant way for the camera company to support the next generation of photographers and videographers.
The Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts provides hands-on opportunities for Kentucky’s talented high school students to hone their creative talents and add new skills to their repertoire. Students include dancers, actors, instrumental and vocal musicians, writers, future architects, and most importantly to Canon, visual artists.
PetaPixel spoke with one of the campers from the most recent GSA summer program for visual arts, Eva Carias from Louisville.
Carias was a natural candidate for the program, having been interested in photography since childhood.
“I have always been in love with photography since I was little. My mom would let me claim her old Canon cameras as mine, as I would take pictures of everything I saw. I used to just see it as a hobby and something I couldn’t do as I would be teased at school for always carrying a camera around,” Carias tells PetaPixel. “It wasn’t until I took a Photo 1 class my sophomore year of high school that I fell back in love with the art and realized that I could follow my passion and potentially do it for a living.”
The GSA program is an intensive three-week summer program, and each day is full of valuable learning opportunities for budding artists. As part of the film and photography program, Carias says her daily morning studio work was focused on photography, and her afternoon classes were centered on videography.
On some days, the students would enjoy a performance following dinner. The performances would be from one of the other art programs, so it could be a musical performance or a dance workshop. Other evenings include post-dinner studio work, sometimes until 11 PM. Carias says her night studio time allowed her to finish up on her homework, whether it was editing photos or working on her documentary assignment.
“GSA is truly a bonding experience as you spend all day every day with students who are equally as passionate about art as you. The bonds that you create during these three weeks last a lifetime,” she explains, adding that she still talks daily to the friends she made at GSA and plans to spend time with them over the holidays.
The GSA is currently accepting applicants for the 2024 program, and Carias cannot recommend it enough.
Driven to succeed and improve, Carias spends a lot of time taking photos of school sports. “I started taking pictures of every sports team at my high school, learning and growing with each sport I photographed. I started to work very closely with the athletic department and was able to take photos at more than five state championship games. I also was then able to help not only my school’s athletic department, but I was able to help my school’s marketing department as I would go to events and help take promotional pictures to use for prospective students and parents. I was also able to work with another local high school and photograph the biggest football rivalry in the state two years in a row, as well as have the opportunity to take photos and become the social media manager for the boys’ wrestling team.”
Carias says that her experience playing sports has helped her with her photography. “As an athlete myself, I was able to use my knowledge of how each sport worked and use it to decide where I wanted to stand, what angle, and what shutter speed I needed in order to achieve the perfect shot.”
As a junior, the year before attending GSA, Carias branched out into portrait photography. Her friends helped by being willing models, and she also shot senior pictures for her friends who were about to graduate.
“I love how taking senior photos is a little more relaxed and at a slower pace than sports. I enjoy being able to have conversations with my clients and be able to capture genuine emotions. Sports and senior portraits are my favorite as I am able to capture people’s true emotions. I love being able to notice the small details like the ring a senior is wearing or the reaction of a fan in the stands after their team scored a touchdown or just won the game,” Carias says.
“I love being able to showcase how I work and function just by publishing my work. I love how I am able to see the world so differently just by zooming in or out of your camera or even just by changing the angle and showcasing that to others.”
While she has done considerable work to learn and improve independently, Carias says the GSA program was highly beneficial. She was able to continue to grow as a photographer and learn much more about filmmaking.
“I was able to learn about the rule of thirds, RAW images, masks, and different editing styles, backing up photos to an external hard drive, the importance of clearing your SD card after different shoots, the importance of background knowledge, how to edit, how to light an interview properly, and what a Kelvin is and why is it used during filmmaking,” she explains. “The most important lesson I learned was about the importance of telling a story in both photography and throughout films.”
Using her improved skills, Carias says that she can show more details from a sporting event and tell a more cohesive, compelling story through her images. “I am able to notice my surroundings and realize that the small details will help me tell a story and show people why they should care and why my photo or film is important.”
Currently a senior, Carias is preparing for the next step in her educational journey. She plans to attend college and major in sports marketing and communications, and intends to volunteer for her school’s athletic department, “specifically in the media team.”
“I want to be able to take photos for their sports teams as well as help with any promotional shoots for the college. I plan to take multiple internships similar to the ones that I already have had,” the photographer says. “I’ve job shadowed and had an internship with a photographer from the University of Louisville as well as my high school’s sports photographer. I hope that I will be able to have an internship with an NFL, NBA, or any other professional sports photographer. I also would like to venture out and have an internship or job shadow with a concert photographer and get more involved in the entertainment industry. Ultimately, I want to be able to use my skills and love for photography and videography and use them to promote a team, person, product, or company.”
Eva Carias is well on her way to achieving her artistic and professional dreams thanks largely to her experience at the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. Carias is active on Instagram and she also has a general portfolio and a collection of work made during her GSA program.
She was far from the only student in the program, and many of them have positive things to say about their time in the program.
“Thank you so much for generously allowing us to use your cameras and lenses. Getting to use professional equipment allowed me to explore my ideas and familiarize myself with essential skills in film and photography. It was amazing to experiment with such high-quality tools and my growth at GSA wouldn’t have been the same without them,” one student told Canon.
Another added, “Thank you so much for all you have donated for us to use here at Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts! It truly was a privilege to get to use these cameras and lenses. It gave us an opportunity to capture great moments around Kentucky — a county fair, a walk downtown, the tracks at Keeneland, and more. Having access to these cameras, and learning so much about them in just three weeks, gave each of us great experience that we can use in our careers in the future. I had an amazing time at GSA and it wouldn’t have been the same without the help of the equipment that Canon provided to us. Thanks again!”
A common thread throughout many of the quotes is that most campers do not have regular access to professional-grade equipment, which is unsurprising given that cameras are very expensive and most high school students are not flush with cash. The opportunities to not only learn from professionals in the industry but also gain experience working with high-end gear is invaluable.
“Thanks for all the gear you sent to GSA. At home, I don’t have any professional camera gear accessible for me so it was difficult to get a grasp of more modern cameras. The gear you sent helped me understand cameras so much better, finally being able to grasp the differences between lenses and aperture. Again, thank you so much for sending this gear. It helped to further my knowledge on this art form that I love so much,” adds another student.
Image credits: All images courtesy of Eva Carias