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Kids become shooting stars

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo by Haesley Minturn
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Haesley Minturn has probably always known she’d take a few bad photos. The difference now is that she’s so not scared of that.

Minturn, 13, was one of nearly 100 budding photographers, grades 7-10, who recently went through photography classes with local shooter (and the Post Independent’s own) Kelley Cox. More than the technical stuff, the Rifle kid remembers Cox talking about ideas. She urged them to explore, Minturn said, and “not to be afraid to take bad pictures.” Those words stuck with her.

“I like trying to find things to take pictures of,” she said, “things that have pretty colors.”



Like the rest of the young photo students, Minturn took part in the experience through her local Garfield County library. Cox visited all six of the branches and taught two sessions at each. At the first, they spoke about photo concepts, and the kids were outfitted with disposable cameras. They were then given one week to take pictures.

When they met again two weeks later, Cox had had a chance to look through all their images and pick out her favorites. They talked about the pieces, and she presented each student with a matted print. Part of the point was to show the youngsters that it doesn’t take fancy equipment to make art. It just takes an artist.



“I can’t wait to get my own digital camera,” said an excited Annie Jones, 12.

A newbie to photography, she had only been able to go to one class at the New Castle Library. But it still got her jazzed. She remembers learning about color and light, and she used that in her favorite pictures ” of an old stairway, of a tree with sun streaming through it and of her sister running up a hill. She’s now saving her baby-sitting money for a new camera.

“I just really like it how you can take something that will always be there and look at it whenever you want,” she said.

Her brother, Andrew, 16, has been an artist all of his life, but has mostly been into painting. For him, the class was a foray into still lifes and figuring out how to get just the background he wanted. His favorite image is a pair of white Converse sneakers next to a red, kids wagon.

“You can take pictures of stuff that people have taken pictures of before, and you can get a new look at it,” he said, explaining his favorite part about the medium.

Glenwood’s Laura McDermott, 12, felt the class made her “think a lot more” about how to take photographs. She enjoyed Cox’s nudging to capture images of whatever she wanted.

“When you take a picture, you can make it great (even) if it’s not a great subject, with shadows and angles and color,” she said, quoting Cox.

“She was very patient,” McDermott added, “and she was a really good teacher.”

Quotes like that don’t surprise Diane Webster, the youth services librarian at the New Castle Library. Last year, it was Webster who asked Cox to do these classes. That first summer, Cox was only at the New Castle branch. After seeing how much the kids enjoyed it, however, all the other libraries wanted in, too.

“She was awesome with the kids,” Webster said. “I think she shared her enthusiasm with them. Her enthusiasm caught.”

For anyone who knows Cox, that’s not hard to imagine. Talking about the class, she sounded nothing but excited.

“I had at least 90 CDs of disposable camera photos to look through, and it wasn’t a chore at all,” Cox said.

The idea wasn’t to take “snapshots of anything,” she said, but to create real works of art. She explained that with her pieces, she doesn’t go terribly technical, and she relies on the artistic quality of photography to make her work sing. In her eyes, there are no rules in photos, and she wanted these kids to know that.

“I tried to get them to step out of the natural realm of their picture taking and come up with something unique,” she said.

She described being so enamored of the “artsy” and “creative” ways the kids had used their film. She seemed just as impressed, though, by all the times their pictures had flopped. After all, taking risks is part of the journey.

“And I congratulated them for taking a lot of really bad photos as well as a few good ones,” she said, laughing.

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

ssieg@postindependent.com


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