NYC SALT – A Photography Program Worth its Salt!
by Sandra Kehoe – February 26th, 2015
X-Rite Coloratti Master Douglas Dubler was volunteering his time teaching a workshop to the SALT students and invited us to come along. It was an incredible experience to see the work that is being done with the students to cultivate their passion for photography and teach them the techniques and tools required for digital photography, and most importantly, helping the students prepare their portfolios and apply to college to study photography.
The program was founded by Alicia Hansen. The genesis of the program came from what Alicia was witnessing where she lived and wanting to make a change because, “There were too many kids hanging out on the streets in my neighborhood doing nothing! NYC SALT evolved out of a class I created and taught for a nonprofit up in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in North Manhattan.”
NYC SALT received its non-profit status in April of 2008 and the program boasts an incredible 100% acceptance rate into college, in a neighborhood where only 37% receive higher education. And many of those were on full scholarships; to date, her students have received over a million dollars in scholarships.
“Our mission is to engage, inspire and empower underserved youth through photography.” – Alicia Hansen
SALT students have earned full scholarships to Syracuse University, University of Vermont, Hofstra, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Purchase, Binghamton University, and Fordham University.
“I believe that the way to affect change in my community is through personal relationships. More that anything else, I value community in my program. We want to have a life long relationship with every student we serve.” – Alicia Hansen.
SK: Tell us about the SALT program.
AH: Our program is what we’re calling an Artist in Residency program for high school students. 16 hand selected High School students that have demonstrated they are serious about learning what is involved in the profession of a pro photographer, and all that goes into that. We don’t limit the program to any one type of photography – we include information and practices for all types of photography and all of the technology used in the professional photography world as much possible. In addition to field trips, the students meet once a week for three hours of instruction and hands-on training.
SK: What was the focus of today’s workshop?
AH: We were thrilled to have acclaimed photographer Douglas Dubler teaching today’s workshop on monitor calibration, color and the importance of a color managed digital workflow. We have taught digital printing in previous years, but this year is first time that we’ve taught the concept and application of color management. Our students would not have even thought much about the color differences in their monitors before today.
When Douglas generously offered his time and expertise to teach a class on color management, we gladly accepted and the students were very excited. This year is a brand new class of kids so they’re all beginners, just starting to create their portfolios.
Color Management is such a new concept to them and it’s wonderful to watch how engaged the students are, listening to everything Douglas has to say – After the class, they had great questions for Douglas and they are excited to apply what they learned. They all felt that it was really good information and a fascinating aspect to photography and can’t wait to learn more.
SK: Being that color management is fairly new to the students, were you concerned about the student’s understanding the technology?
AH: The students came away with a really good grasp on how to calibrate their monitors and the importance of working with properly calibrated monitor. Douglas gave them an in-depth look at the different color spaces and shared really neat visuals all of the color gamuts. They got to see a live demonstration of how to calibrate a monitor and the steps the software goes through.
You could see how engaged the students were. Douglas shared with them his own experiences working with color and how critical color accuracy is in the world of photography, especially in the commercial and fine art space. He talked about the importance of being able to control the color of skin tones and being able to make prints that match the image you see on your monitor. I think it really opened them up to all of the ways that color impacts photography and the tools that are used by professional photographers to control color in their workflow.
SK: What’s next for the students?
AH: The students are working really hard preparing for the upcoming NYC SALT Gala event on June 11th. The gala is a celebration of the students and their work, which includes a gallery showing of all the photography produced by students throughout the year. The students will be selling their prints and there will be a small graduating ceremony for the seniors. This year is also the first year for NYC SALT to have program participants graduating who are from college and they will be showcasing their portfolios.
SK: What’s your involvement with NYC SALT?
DD: SALT is a wonderful program that really makes a difference in the lives of these young people. For me personally, teaching a workshop at SALT is very rewarding and a great way to give back to the community.
SK: The focus of your workshop today is color management. Why is that important for Photography students?
DD: My involvement with photography education is about Fine Art Digital color printing. That begins with a color managed workflow from image capture to viewing images on a properly calibrated monitor process to building printer profiles that will result in making beautiful prints that match the colors on your monitor. I’m happy to have the opportunity to relate this to students who are interested in pursuing photography as a career – it’s never too soon to get them started learning good habits and a good foundation early in your involvement in photography and these skills and understanding will serve them well.
The program at SALT is a perfect setting to introduce the importance of color management to the students who are just starting out. Presented in simple and easy to understand terms for the students, it encourages them to include color management into their photography practices right from the start. It’s a very important part of the Educational process for young photographers. It’s critical to start sharing the information with them as early a possible. Something important that I learned from Ansel Adams was – ‘the best photographer will always be the best printers’. Essentially, making the best print is key to commercial success as a photographer. That’s my inspiration and it’s 100% of how I work. The end goal is to have an amazing print.
SK: How did the SALT students respond?
DD: The kids were totally engaged. They listened intently, they asked great questions and they were clearly excited to learn about working in the different color spaces and how it affects their images and prints. They got to see how easy it is to calibrate their monitor and they learned about ColorTrue, a software app that allows them to calibrate their iPads and mobile phones.
SK: This workshop was clearly well received by the students. Are you considering doing any more?
DD: It’s a good use of my time for a very worthwhile cause and an opportunity to support an educational element of the photography community. I really love the SALT program and I am planning to do more workshops with the continued support of companies such as X-Rite, Epson, and Eizo who are donating the necessary equipment and software. It has enormous value for the students involved. I’m very encouraged by the positive feedback from the kids. Mentoring is ALWAYS a good thing.
SK: I noticed that there were also a few educators at the workshop.
DD: Yes – Adam Chinitz, who plays a key role teaching at SALT, along with SALT founder Alicia Hansen and volunteer photographer/instructor, Sari Goodfriend were there. I think that’s great. I especially see the value in teaching the teachers, who can then share that knowledge with even more students.
About Douglas Dubler:
After studying Fine and Liberal Arts at Boston University, Douglas Dubler set up his first studio in St. Thomas/U.S. Virgin Islands in the 1970s and quickly made a name for himself as an advertising photographer. He then began to specialize in fashion and beauty. He moved to Los Angeles in 1976 and to New York in 1982. Though his roots are in fashion and beauty, Douglas’ clients today include well-known companies from other industries as well. His photographs have graced, and continue to grace, the covers of popular fashion and photography magazines, and his creative techniques are shaping the art of sophisticated beauty, fashion and fine art photography around the world. Douglas is an X-Rite Coloratti Master, an elite group of Master Photographers and Fine Art Printers recognized for their creative achievements and industry accolades.
Ways to support NYC SALT:
• Buy a print for your home or for decorating your corporate office space.
• Provide an Internship.
• Give a monthly donation of $25 or more.
• Provide a scholarship.
• Provide a gallery space to showcase our students’ photography.
• Provide a field trip to expose our students to more careers in the photo industry.
• Help us build relationships with more colleges and universities that we could send our students to.
• Donate gear you are not using especially lenses!
Follow NYC SALT
Twitter & Instagram: @NYCSALT