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FOTOcamp offers special digital photography experience


Campers at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre's Youth Summer FOTOcamp are taking pictures of a tiger on one of their many field trips during their weeklong camp. [Photo by Palm Beach Photographic Centre]


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A summer camp designed to help children and teens tap into their creative sides returns in June for its 26th year.


The Palm Beach Photographic Centre’s Youth Summer FOTOcamp has two two-week sessions, June 12 to 23 and July 10 to 21. The camp meets 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday, and each session is capped at 12 campers.


“They learn so much in those two weeks,” says Fatima NeJame, the president and chief executive of the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, which is on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach. “They keep coming back year after year, and they become lifetime friends.”


The camp is open to ages 10 to 17 and tailored to those who have an interest in photography or computers, she says. Campers receive individual and group critiques, and they’re each provided the use of a Canon digital camera, thanks to a sponsorship with Canon.


“It’s a great opportunity for them to learn,” NeJame says. “Once you learn how a digital camera works, you can apply those principles to almost any digital camera.”


The camp teaches the essentials of digital photography, including composition, shutter speed and aperture, resolution, lens choice and focus, along with digital editing through Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.


“A child is not going to sit in a classroom and listen to somebody do a slide presentation or a speaker all day, so the FOTOcamp is specifically geared toward kids,” NeJame says. “It’s more appealing to the kids, and then right after that, we take them somewhere to photograph where they can practice what they’ve learned.”


Field trips, called FOTOwalks, visit locations including downtown West Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Zoo, Yesteryear Village at the South Florida Fairgrounds, Grassy Waters Preserve and Grandview Public Market, NeJame says.


During FOTOwalks, campers will learn many facets of digital photography, including composition, shutter speed and aperture, resolution, lens choice and focus. [Photo by Palm Beach Photographic Centre]


When students return to the center at the end of each day, they go through their images and narrow them down to 15, she says. “We teach them how to create a portfolio out of those images. They learn every single day.”


In the second week, the campers look through their images and choose the 15 best for a final portfolio, she said. Each also selects a favorite image to go on a T-shirt.


“We see kids come back wearing their shirts from previous years,” NeJame says. “It’s kind of like their diploma.”


At the end of both sessions, family and friends join the campers to see presentations of their work and celebrate their accomplishments.


“We show a lot of pictures of the kids themselves having fun and taking photos,” NeJame says. “I just love to watch it and see the kids laugh and giggle. They just really, really have a good time.”


The Palm Beach Photographic Centre will celebrate the campers’ work by displaying it during the 2023 Juried Exhibition from Aug. 10 to Sept. 23, with an opening night reception and awards from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 9. The winner of the Best Student award receives a Canon digital camera.


“We want it to be a place where the children really learn something that could possibly become their future career or something they can take with them for the rest of their lives,” NeJame says.


FOTOcamp has two two-week sessions, June 12 to 23 and July 10 to 21. The camp meets 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday. Tuition is $1,295 per session.


For more information or to register, call 561-253-2600, or go to workshop.org.

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