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Life through a lens

on September 21, 2010

Using digital cameras, students at the RYSE center began a semester-long search for compelling images and important stories. Sponsored by ArtsChange, the new project only requires a little bit of light and a lot of imagination.

“You just need yourself and eyes,” said photography teacher Joe Mintz, of Berkeley, as he takes his students outside to explore. An artist, he volunteers his time at the RYSE center and takes photography classes at Berkeley City College.

This past summer Mintz created a three-week-long class that explored the art of composition, framing, and visual thinking. His class roamed the Bay Area: the Mission in San Francisco, train tracks in West Berkeley and skate parks in Richmond.

ArtsChange uses books and videos to illustrate dynamic photography.

“The students were very receptive to what I was showing them,” said Mintz. “They absorbed it just like that.”

Mintz said his students this past summer had very little photography experience. Most of their interests revolved around video and music.

This fall Mintz hopes to build on that summer experience with a new project. During this ten-week session, students search their community for people they admire. Then they conduct interviews, shoot portraits and create a photo essay about a local hero.

“My hero story will be on my brother,” said Manuel Floriano, 17, of Richmond. “He’s in the U.S. Navy stationed in Saudia Arabia. He’s visiting for a month and just got here on Saturday.”

Floriano admires his brother because he’s on top of his career.

“He’s on a great road that I want to follow,” Floriano said.

ArtsChange photography instructor, Joe Mintz, center, illustrates the use of multiple strobes while posing for a portrait with his students Manuel Floriano, left, and Xavier Polk, right.

Xavier Polk, of Richmond, has a different hero when talking about photography. This 17 year old wants to become a successful businessman.

“My hero is Big Rich of San Francisco,” said Polk, referring to the local hip-hop entrepreneur. “I look up to him because he is young, positive and doing exactly what I’m trying to do – to better myself as a photographer, sound engineer and business owner.”

Photography is a powerful  medium for art, communication and business, said Mintz. The digital age allows beginners to tap into it quickly – the learning curve is quicker.

And it is with this beginner’s ease that Ginea Jack, 17, of Richmond, picks up her first camera while attending her first photo expedition outside the RYSE center.

“You can make your own opinion about something if you can see it,” Jack said.

Richmond Confidential will soon feature student artwork by ArtsChange. Stay tuned.


  1. […] ArtsChange youth photographers profiled in Richmond Confidential Posted on September 21, 2010 by artschange This summer, ArtsChange launched a series of workshops dedicated to providing creative opportunities for young people while making use of only the most affordable and accessible resources. ArtsChange challenged the youth in the Urban Studio Arts Institute summer program to think of the street as studio and find active ways to reclaim and redefine that space as the documentors of their own communities. Local news outlet Richmond Confidential followed up with two of young people in ArtsChange’s Digital Photography workshop who spent the summer capturing images with simple point-and-shoot cameras and refining them with the most readily available computer software. Take a look at their work and the story by our new media partners at Richmond Confidential where they are creating space for ArtsChange youth to post work on their website to reach the audiences these young artists deserve! Read the Story […]

  2. Xavier Polk on September 23, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    LOL i feel famous but it was something possitive & i did it for my city of Richmond & photography & music keep me out of trouble & big ups to RYSE Center, Arts Change & The City Of Richmond for helping me find my goals & keeping me out of trouble..
    I am a upcoming artist, sound engineer, producer & photographer. known as Da KiDD AOB but government Xaiver


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