Life Behind the Lens – The Start of a New Photography Program

Hiking with Illuminate Atlanta

Led by founder Sara Keith, director Allison Jarek, and programming coordinator Kahiah Polidore, Illuminate Atlanta is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to increase accessibility to photographic education and the arts by providing photography education and opportunities to undeserved communities in the Metro Atlanta Area.  As of the 2019 Spring Semester we are excited to announce that we have partnered with Illuminate Atlanta to co-lead a handful of Thursday hikes, giving our participants the unique option of exploring the world of photography.

Recently we enjoyed our first co-led hike of the semester where Sara and Allison met one of our hiking groups at Tanyard Creek Park, a section of the north side trail Beltline. They brought us some beautiful cameras to use that were both exciting for our participants to interact with and great tools to learn on.

Photography Exercises

Sarah and Allison came prepared with a handful of engaging exercises to guide our experience and stretch our creativity. Many of these exercises not only help to make better photographers but also help to strengthen fundamental developmental capacities such as symbolic thinking and perspective taking. Our participants had a blast trying these out. You don’t have to have a fancy camera to try these for yourself, so the next time you pull out your camera phone here’s a few ideas to play around with:


For our first exercise, Sarah and Allison challenged us to get as close to an object as possible to capture its texture. The idea here is to focus not on the form of an object but its individual parts that make up the whole – a valuable metaphor in social-emotional learning when considering and empathizing with other’s experiences that may be very different than our own.

Subject Subtraction

Next we worked on something I call ‘Subject Subtraction’. The goal here is to get a shot of a composition and gradually remove elements until there are only one or two elements left.  It’s another way to look at big and small picture ideas within the scope of a subject, and to practice re-framing personal perspective.

The Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

While stumbling upon a playground we seized the opportunity to try another exercise called The Alphabet Scavenger Hunt. The goal is to find what look like shapes of the alphabet in organic and inorganic objects. This in particular helps to build symbolic thinking skills which is the “ability of transforming objects or experiences into meanings which are different from the original by using imagination” in childhood and adolescence symbolic thinking, “forms the foundation for intellectual development and communication,” (Potter, Gillian from Early Years).

It turns out that playgrounds in general are fantastic places to try this exercise out as they contain many regular and irregular shapes. The task proved to be a more difficult challenge that we thought. We couldn’t find all the letters of the alphabet but we did find a lot of them. Which ones can you make out below?

Worm’s Eye View

Finally, we ended with a twist on the birds eye view. The premise for this exercise assumes that often we are either looking straight ahead or possible more introspectively downward. This exercise helps you practice looking up, and seeing what’s above you. Imagine your a worm looking up at the rest of the world.

Aspiring Photographers

Did you like the photos you saw in this post? They were all shot by our talented participants!

Thanks for reading and we look forward to sharing more work with you from future Illuminate Atlanta Hikes!

Benjamin J. Davidow, Marketing Manager

One Comment on “Life Behind the Lens – The Start of a New Photography Program

  1. Interesting project put forth in this illuminating article! I think the alphabet scavenger hunt was a fascinating exercise!

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