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photo by Matt Thomas

June Photo Newsletter
Family Photos

Dear Photographers,

   Last month we explored portraits.  This month we continue the theme, but expand our view to the idea of family.  By blood or by love - who make up the circles that surround you? Siblings, cousins, friends, pets?  Age peers or across generations? Traditional nuclear families or any variation on the above?  The question we pose is how to use our photography to capture not just  individuals, but also  relationships. Learning to take effective group shots is always a challenge.  Observing the subtle facial expressions and body language that convey the stories, choosing the best lighting to reinforce the mood, selecting a background that amplifies the feelings, these are all aspects of creating telling family photos.  

Join us as we delve into this wonderfully exciting part of photography.


June Mutual Aid Photo Workshop:

     We're trying something new this time.  Instead of our usual presentation dealing with issues of equipment, technique and composition,  this month we invite participants to bring in samples of their own family photos (see above for expanded definition of "family") to share.  As a group we can offer feedback and suggestions.  Bring in some shots you are proud of, and some of your bloopers.  You will leave with lots of great tips and new ideas and encouragement to keep going with these very meaningful images.

Monday,  June 12  7:00 - 8:30










Photo Field Trips














Family Photo Shoot at Swarthmore College
   We are planning an extravaganza this time!  You are invited to bring along anyone you'd like to an event designed to open up your thinking about those traditional group shots.  Included will be jumpology, bubble blowing and spraymania.  Curious?  Up for a fantastic photo op that will capture your people in spontaneous moments of fun and silliness?  Come!

Location:  Swarthmore PA

Saturday,  June 17  10:00 - 12:00


Photo by Owen Biddle


Not a photo but.....

    In this family portrait Edgar Degas  (1834 - 1917), using conventional means, goes beyond the surface to tell us so much about the relationships and interactions in this family.






One of Rachel's
favorite books

DSLR and Mirrorless Fundamentals Tutorials

Below are descriptions of the basic units of our curriculum available to students ranging from beginner to advanced.  Most units are five lessons and include a set of assignments designed to give practice in targeted skills with opportunities to get feedback from the instructor so that you learn from your experiences.

Just give a call and  we can set up individual sessions to keep you moving forward with your photography.

 Call (610)-626-7854 for details.


​(click on links for more information)


Fundamentals 1:  Camera Operations   is for students who are just starting out, or want a good review of the basic camera functions. 

Fundamentals 2:  Applications  is for students who have some comfort with the camera and want to start applying their skills to expand their photographic range.

Fundamentals 3:  Composition  takes photography beyond the subject, and encourages you to see the artistic and compositional opportunities in everyday life. Here is a chance for your right brain to come out and play!


Fundamentals 4:  Lighting Across the Genres is for students who are  ready for the next critical step: lighting.  Explore sophisticated means of controlling both natural and artificial light for portraits, landscape and still life to get just the mood and effects you want.


Advanced Photography - Using self-generated assignments and in-depth critiques we will help you move forward in your work.

a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.


Return of the

In-Person Photo Salon

Sunday,  June 18  2:00 - 4:00

These are very friendly, relaxed get-togethers at my apartment in Lansdowne. Photographers of all levels are welcome to share pictures, get photography tips, and discuss camera equipment. You can also get ideas for entering photography contests, submitting to photography magazines and having photo shows. Feedback from the group provides encouragement and inspiration to go out and take more pictures. These informal photography critiques offer an excellent opportunity to start identifying themes in your work and to get ideas for new directions. Group size is limited, so if you can come an RSVP is required by email or call (610) 626-7854. Cost is $10.  These Salons often fill-up, so it's best to get your spot early



Photographer of the Month

Matt Thomas







Here is what Matt has to say: "I'm a (very!) amateur photographer based in Center City Philadelphia, where I live with my wife and our six year old daughter.  I first picked up a camera about a year after Zoe was born.  I realized I wanted a better way to capture the memories we were making as a new family.  As I played around with an old DSLR, I found that  I loved the challenge of learning how to use a camera well, both technically and creatively.  There was--and is!--something magical about hard science and clear rules blended with creativity and spontaneous moments.  I love taking pictures of our travels, of nature and - of course! - of my daughter, who remains a very keen subject.  As she's gotten older, it's been fun to watch her steal the camera from my hands and take photos of her own."

We are so excited to present this sampling of Matt's current work.  The combination of his adventurous use of technique, his really inventive concepts and his obvious love for his family add up to photos that  engage, charm and amuse us. It's a treat to share with Matt so many wonderful moments with Zoe. (But watch out - it looks like she may be some serious competition using the camera!)

Click on thumbnails to see full images.

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photo by Zoe Thomas, age 5 years old


Photo Tips of the Month:  Family Photos

Remember, family can go far beyond the traditional nuclear variety.  Whoever makes up your circle of love is fair game - don't necessarily have to be the two-legged type either!  What is distinctive here is the emphasis on relationship.

The Big Four:  subject, background, light, gesture

The 50 mm is your friend.  Its wide-open aperture buys you more light and blurs the background.

Look out for interesting lighting conditions to bring a special feel to your photos that can reinforce the mood you are trying to communicate.  Matt's pictures above offer lots of examples.

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