THROUGH THE LENS: Community Engagement Through Photography

Posted on Jan 7, 2016

Supported by a generous grant from the East Tennessee Foundation, “Through the Lens” is a project designed to engage with our community using photography as the tool. The project will incorporate artistic growth through the series of workshops listed below, then reach out to youth as adult mentors teach and guide them on the own photographic journey, all to culminate in an exhibit of the young people’s work.

Phase one will concentrate on building adult photographers’ skills. The half and full day workshops are open to the public, and will take place at the Etowah Community Center, 155 Robinson Street, Etowah, TN, just off Highway 30. Pre-registration is encouraged, walk-ins will be accepted as space permits. You may pre-register through PayPal below on our website, come by the office to pay with cash, check or credit card during regular office hours (Thursdays and Fridays, 12 – 6 pm), or call (423) 263-7608 during office hours to pay with a credit card. Workshops longer than 3 hours will include a 30 minute break, so bring lunch or snacks.

Phase two of the project will bring together selected adult photography coaches and middle school students from diverse neighborhoods to learn basic photography skills and develop a community documentation exhibit.


February 6, 2016            USING ADOBE LIGHTROOM              Instructor – Steve Gustafson

10:00 am – 1:00 pm      $25.00

This workshop will deal with importing images into the Lightroom Library, including setting up folders and collections. It will also include instruction on pre-processing photographs during import, such as exposure compensation, color correction, and noise reduction. We will also explore the various tools found in the Lightroom Development Module and explain how to use them in given situations. Adobe Lightroom is an efficient software for photographers to import, select, develop, and showcase large volumes of digital images. You can spend less time sorting and refining photographs, and more time actually shooting them. Its clean interface lets you quickly view and work with the images you shot today, as well as the thousands of images that you will shoot over the course of your career.

The instructor will provide images, so that the students are working on the same ones. Laptops are recommended, but not a requirement, as time will be given to take notes.


March 19, 2016          DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY      Instructor – Roby Cogswell

10:00 am – 3:00 pm      $35.00

This workshop will provide an overview of documentary photography for those who have some basic experience with shooting, regardless of which format you use. Rather than focusing on technical how-to’s, we will concentrate on finding new subject matter, approaches, motivations, and practical outlets for students to continue their pursuit of photography. Since documentary photography overlaps with other specialties, such as photo-journalism, portraiture, and travel photography, we will emphasize subject matter that is historically significant or representative of a culture and life at a particular place and time. In addition to studying the technical aspects of documentary photography, both past and present, we’ll explore relevant topics such as 1) how we “read” photo-images for information and meaning, 2) the photographer’s role in the documentary process and the importance of cultural etiquette, 3) the pursuit of objectivity and questions of appropriate photographic style, and 4) the unique prospects for documentary work by cultural insiders.

The instructor will present an array of photos to illustrate these issues, and active discussion is encouraged. Participants may bring their own documentary work (preferably on a thumb drive). There will be a period for the participants to put into practice what they have learned, so cameras and needed equipment should be brought to the workshop. Anyone wishing to be considered as a mentor for Phase 2 of the project is strongly encouraged to attend this workshop.


April 2, 2016            COMPOSITION FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS    Instructor – Steve Gustafson

10:00 am – 1:00 pm      $25.00

In this workshop, participants will discuss and give examples of how to communicate with a photograph. We will learn how a viewer perceives the elements of an image, and how to control those perceptions. We will look for the meaning in a photograph, and finish with practical ideas and tips for more creative and imaginative compositions.


April 16, 2016            MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY                  Instructor – Steve Gustafson

10:00 am – 4:00 pm      $45.00

After learning to control the exposure on your camera in the manual exposure mode in this workshop, we will proceed to explore the different methods of shooting close-up (macro) photography. How to control the focus and depth of field will be examined. The morning session will be in the classroom, and we will venture outdoors after a break for the afternoon session. Please dress accordingly. Students must have either a macro lens, extension tubes, or other close focusing device for their camera. A tripod is not required but highly recommended.


May 7, 2016            PHOTOGRAPHING WATER IN NATURE    Instructor – Larry Winslett


10:00 am – 4:00 pm      $45.00

Water is one of nature’s most mesmerizing subjects and takes many forms. So, how do we document the wonder of water? From stop action to producing silky smooth scenes, there are many professional techniques to ensure outstanding results. In this workshop, we will learn about location and perspective, direction and speed of water, camera settings and creative shutter choices, the importance of a tripod, specialized equipment and lenses, managing exposure with neutral density filters, managing glare and reflections with polarizers, protecting your gear, and experimenting with composition. In the morning session, the instructor will share proven techniques and beautiful images of water. After a break, be prepared to head into the field to practice new techniques.

Participants must bring a camera, lenses, polarizing and neutral density filters if you have them, and a tripod. Bring extra memory cards and batteries. Dress accordingly for the weather. Bring waders if you plan to get in the water.


Steve Gustafson has been a photographer since 1975. He currently teaches continuing education photography classes at Chattanooga State Community College. His teaching credits cover all ages from children through adults, in everything from basic photographic skills to Photoshop and Lightroom , and post-processing techniques. He has written extensively about photographic composition, and a recent article on lens choice was published in Photoshop User magazine. In April of 2015, he teamed up with fellow photographer Pete Collins to produce a training video on photographic composition for the Kelby One website.

Roby Cogswell grew up in Shelbyville, and studied at Vanderbilt and Indiana Universities. He recently retired from 30 years as the Folklife Program Director for the Tennessee Arts Commission, where he managed grant programs, documented and wrote about Tennessee folklife, and worked with exhibits, publications, events, services to artists, and heritage tourism projects. As a photographer, he has extensively documented Tennessee folk artists and their work, along with other folklife and heritage subject matter. His work makes up most of the 22,000 image Tennessee Arts Commission Folklife Program collection, which was recently transferred to the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Two galleries of his photos can be viewed at and

Larry Winslett  is an award-winning photographer who has chronicled the natural world in many parts of the United States and Canada. Specializing in a region’s wildflowers, animals, rivers and streams, his work has been featured in a variety of publications, including Sierra, Wilderness, and Wild Mountain Times, as well as four permanent exhibits at Stone Mountain’s Memorial Hall Museum and the Fernbank Natural History Museum. He has led workshops and tours all over North America, including the University of North Georgia continuing education programs, and the John C. Campbell Folk School. A leader in support of environmental organizations, he has effectively used his photography to bring awareness to the many issues facing endangered places. His work has also appeared in numerous publications, including  two books co-authored with his wife, Julie, Wildflowers of Stone Mountain and Stone Mountain – a walk in the park.