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Instructor Will offers advice about how to blur the background in a photo of a moving object.

During winter break, 28 teens from 15 different schools learned the difference between making a photo and taking a photo, in the intensive and internationally known Fred Roberts Photography Workshop. Founder Fred Roberts, explained on the first day, “This is not a photography workshop. This is a practice in empowerment. The cameras are just the tools for self-expression.”

With the support of Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Fred and a band of highly experienced photographers guided a course that didn’t just focus on the technical aspects of photography such as aperture settings and shutter speed. Over seven days, the students absorbed information, viewed examples, discussed what worked, and mindfully snapped photos to critique. Using HOLA and its surrounding neighborhood as a backdrop, the teens — some of whom were HOLA and Ghetto Film School (GFS) students — utilized techniques used to artistically capture stories with a camera. Eyes were quick to compose frames “painted with light” through viewfinders, and hearts grew confident while searching for the best shot. Their status as students160105FRPWLosAngeles5767 served as passports into personal lives and small businesses — including a clinic, a print shop, and a restaurant.

“I will never forget the first time I got the courage to ask someone for their portrait,” one student shared into a microphone at LACMA for the workshop’s standing-room-only graduation and exhibition of the final best images.

Each teen took around 1,000 photos and was proud to share all about their lessons in perspective, getting close to their subjects, and finding beauty everywhere. Many also spoke of gratitude for their instructors who successfully taught them a new skill that would will always remain, whatever their future professions may be. When asked if there was anything they would change about the workshop, after a long pause, one student said grinning: “Make it longer!”

The students gained more than a higher understanding of photojournalism and an exhibition at LACMA. Thanks to support from Samy’s Camera (who also printed the photographs for free), Fred donated 4 Canon Rebel T cameras to HOLA’s Visual Arts Department to ensure the continuation of growth.

Special thanks to LACMA, Samy’s Camera, Fred Roberts, GFS, and especially, our community who patiently allowed hundreds of photographs to be taken of them — one from every angle.


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