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Project Lightroom and the Schewe Effect

College students around the United States are having some interesting experiences this fall. With the push to get their latest product seen Adobe has a group traveling to various colleges and universities throughout the nation. This 'tour' includes a series of lectures by two people, from Adobe Julieanne Kost and from the photojournalism/advertising world Colin Finlay. Julieanne gives a really great lecture on how to use the new Adobe product; Photoshop Lightroom and Colin lectures about his photography and the stories behind the images.

The tour stops at 25 different schools over a three month period. At each of the schools a small group of students takes part in a one day workshop event with Colin Finlay. A specific aspect of each of community is explored photographically over the course of the day after which they return to edit down their photographs and take part in a group critique led by Finlay with the assistance of Kost as well as other Adobe representatives and school faculty. After the critique each of the students 300 or so photographs have been wittled down to 3, which are then uploaded to the project photoshop lightroom website for all the world to see.

Project Lightroom
Being a College of DuPage photo student who recently took part in one of these events I decided to share my experiences.

The project our school was working on was to depict the cultural disparity between the new tourist trap in downtown Chicago known as Millenium Park and the ethnic neighborhood known as Albany park.

The day before the photographic project began the selected students from the photo program chosen to take part had a meeting with the folks from the tour to discuss the activities of the next day, as well as to get a brief overview of Lightroom from Kost.

after the introductions and brief discussion of the next days activities (and signing of releases) we all got some free food! instructors and students line up

Julieanne takes questions about Lightroom, preparing us for the next day when we'd be using it.

Waiting around.. During intermission of Colin Finlays lecture. Jeff Curto (photo program coordinator) greets attendees as students hang around. Someone was smart enough to close the doors to keep the happy elevator music from the lobby from leaking into the lecture after the intermission.. Happy violin music doesnt exactly go with photos depicting sadness and despair.

I wandered around after the lecture waiting for a ride.. They caught me!

Students and instructors wait for a signed book from Colin. Instructor Mike Conroy caught me too.
Friday morning started at 05:00AM for me, I was lucky enough to have been pitied and had a ride to campus at 6:15am, avoiding the train and bus I was able to catch the IMUS show on MSNBC in the lounge waiting for the 8:00am arrival time for the students and others, marking the official start of our day.

We arrived at Millenium Park around 10:00AM, it was full of tourists from all over the world.. They really liked that shiny thing.

We spent 2 hours at millenium park.. I spent some time with Colin at the bean watched him work, spoke a bit and then wandered off to continue my own exploration..

Back on the bus with instructor/driver Frank and on the way west to lunch and Albany park.. Riding Lake Shore Drive..

Albany Park. Quite a difference.. An Iraqi restaraunt owner lifts up an employee. At first they were uninterested in photos but a few moments later everyone was happy.

Everyone meets up at home base to catch the bus back to the COD campus.

Some of the students photographed (scared?) the natives on the way home.

The Schewe Effect
Upon returning to the campus at around 4:30PM (30 minutes late) we arrive at the digital lab to find Jeff Schewe, general photoshop geek and editor of Photoshop News with his camera on the ground photographing a group of students walk down the hall. Jeff Curto called us "Intreped". Two Jeffs, only one of them documenting the nights events for an upcoming posting on the photoshop news website.
Julieanne Kost went over what we should be doing in Lightroom.. This was the part of the day when we edited down our 300 or so photographs down to six.
Colin Finlay helps a student with the editing process.. as others work on their own.

The whole editing process was a very fun event, with Jeff wandering around putting cameras in weird places, in peoples faces.. Sure was fun to see him working! I think he went through 4 gigs of RAW files in about an hour or so.

Julieanne Kost helping a student in the front row as Jeff Schewe and Colin Finlay discuss the work of another student.

After the editing process was done everyone met upstairs for pizza ! Lou Desiderio and Julieanne Kost seem to be enjoying it.

Two Jeffs, Mr. Schewe seems to enjoy photographing his slice of thin crust while Mr. Curto picks up some deep dish.

Critique and thoughts
Following the pizza there was an EXCELLENT group critique where as a group (Adobe people, all the full time faculty and students) we all worked to wittle down each students six images down to 3. Led by Colin Finlay and helped along by the other well experienced people in the room each student ended up with a set of images to be proud of.

I learned a lot from these two days.

There are a lot of people out there who are very interested in working with students. Some folks out there work very hard to make things great for us! All of the people involved in the project I met seemed to care very much about the students, it was great to work with people who could really help.. and wanted to help.

I came out of the two days having lost my fear of photographing people. Being required to make people sign a model release really does force you to get out of your shell. At first I thought the model release was a horrible restriction but now I see it opened many windows and allowed for many great discussions with people from all over the globe.

I learned how easy it is, and how hard it is to make a photographic project happen in one day. Documenting the culture and nature of two different areas in 3 photographs is a big job.. Without the help of Colin Finlay and others I wouldnt have thought it possible.. These folks showed me how easy it is to approach stangers and how many of them really want their story known.. Nearly all of the people I met that day out on the streets lit up with excitement when I approached them. I spoke to people born in Poland, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Sudan, China, Palestine and Korea all in one day.. all of whom seemed very happy that someone was interested in photographing their business. I now know how easy, and hard this type of work is..

It is hard to be told no! But it is also easy to find someone who will say yes.
It was difficult to be dropped off in some area youve never been before and expected to come back with great photographs that told a story.. But it was surprisingly easy to get those photos. After realizing you have a job to do you can become very focused.. and I was when I was out there shooting, in a way I had never been before. I think that this event will totally change how I go out and make photographs.. I feel like I know what I am doing now, I feel like I understand how the type of photography I enjoy most REALLY is done now. This was the best critique I had taken part in so far as a photo student.. I am not sure if Lightroom was to thank or if all of the really great people in the room were to thank... maybe both..

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