create / 2015

Los Angeles Center of Photography Brings Life Changing Photography Classes to Boys & Girls Clubs

Los Angeles Center of Photography Brings Life Changing Photography Classes to Boys & Girls Clubs

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Los Angeles Center of Photography

LACP will bring a year-long digital photography program to four Boys & Girls Clubs in LA County. Youngsters from 10-18 learn basic digital photography skills, followed by portrait, street photography and documentary classes, focused on their lives and communities--but also exposing them to careers. LACP will host a final exhibit for each group in Hollywood—heightening student self-esteem by following through with a long-term creative project and helping mount the show.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • Westside
  • Long Beach Boys & Girls Club

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Advocate with policymakers and leaders

How will your proposal improve the following “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Concentration of manufacturing activity in LA
  • Federal research grant funding
  • Jobs per capita
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Gini coefficient
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”) (Dream Metric)
  • Recruiting and retention rates for local higher education institutions (Dream Metric)
  • Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to create.

LACP Founder/Executive Director Julia Dean has volunteered her time to launch a pilot program at the Variety Boys & Girls Club in Boyle Heights. There are four classes of ten weeks each: Basic Photography, Portrait, Street Shooting and Documentary Photo classes. Each serves 15 students, and ideally every student would take the sequence. But there’s some attrition. So “the basics” are built into all classes, letting new students join later classes. Besides technique, the curriculum teaches communication skills, shows the meaning of long-term commitment to a project, and enhances pride as students help mount the show at LACP’s gallery in Hollywood–where family and friends go to the opening.
The history of Boyle Heights, where gangs were prevalent, meant youngsters were often forced to stay indoors after school for safety. According to Boys & Girls Club staff, many have a parent who is an alcoholic, drug abuser, or simply working too hard to supervise their kids after school. Boys & Girls Club is a refuge where students are dropped off after school and picked up at 8:00 pm. For LACP, the club is a perfect venue: structured, yet students can participate based on their interests. Through networking with other B&G Clubs in LA County, Julia has targeted three other neighborhoods that are similarly disadvantaged, and contacted the Executive Directors. All are enthusiastic about hosting the program. Besides continuing in Boyle Heights, LACP would use the grant to expand to clubs in Lincoln Heights, Venice and Long Beach in 2016. The program meets the metric of making Los Angeles “a better place to create,” as well as “a better place to learn” in overlapping ways. Instructors will introduce students to many career opportunities in professional photography. LACP adult workshops cover a gamut of classes focusing on photography’s applications to many creative industry specializations–advertising/graphic design, editorial/journalistic, older entertainment forms (film, television, music) and digital ones (gaming, website design and more). Photography is involved in LA’s premier manufacturing industries—fashion, food, furniture, toys and products of all kinds. Students learn about fine art photography, and its ecosystem of schools, galleries and publications. The introduction can inspire students to explore many routes into LA’s creative economy–after high school or through higher education in LA’s community colleges, universities or art schools.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Though cameras (especially phone cameras) are everywhere, serious digital photography is still a skill to be taught, mastered and perfected. So LACP’s program assumes no prior knowledge, and covers basic photo concepts and skills first. Pre- and post-tests on this “book knowledge” will be administered for each class in the sequence. Equally important, instructors will continuously evaluate the creative work done by each student—a process that will culminate at the end of 2016 as student photos from each club are selected for the final exhibitions. The program director, Julia Dean, will observe classes from time to time, to monitor the effectiveness of the instructors and the students’ progress. A final, extremely useful source of evaluation will be the staff at each Boys & Girls Club location. They will observe classes as well, and will be in frequent contact with Julia to share their insights over the course of the year.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support