Posts Tagged ‘summer camp photos’

Photographer Returns for More Mountain ‘Magic’

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

"It's the people who brought me back to the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program," said Paula Harding, photographer.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“There’s something magical about this mountain,” said Paula Harding, 20, photographer for the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, when she arrived yesterday. “But it’s the people who brought me back.”

The Idyllwild Arts Summer Program attracts many talented young people from across the country to work as camp counselors, teachers assistants and instructors. Once they work here, they’re likely to return.

This year, some are spending their 5th summer at Idyllwild Arts. This is Paula’s second year.

Famous instructors from the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program include Ansel Adams, Bella Lewitsky and Ray Bradbury, who passed away this year.

To get the job originally, Paula got a good recommendation from her high school teacher who also worked as a Summer Program photographer.

“She actually worked here when Emma and Bruce McMenamin were just camp counselors!” Paula said. “She’s so jealous that I get to come back to Idyllwild again this year!”

Tall and stylish with a Southern drawl, Paula is well liked by her fellow campers.

“OMG it’s Paula!” several of them screamed as the van pulled up to her dorm.

From Paula Harding's award-winning 'Abandonment' series

“We just love her!” exclaimed Gigi, a lifeguard last summer, but a camp counselor this year. “She’s a Georgia peach!”

Although Paula is friendly, she does her best to stay “invisible” when she’s working. Her day starts at 8 a.m., and she does the rounds to all of the classes, which can be as many as 15 when summer is in full swing.

After  class time, Paula attends lectures, art shows, plays and musical performances. Oftentimes, her day ends at 8 p.m. She turns her digital photos over to Bruce McMenamin, who crops them and decides where to best use them.

On an average day, Paula shoots 500 photographs. Last summer, she shot a grand total of 40,000 photos.

“Of course, they don’t use them all!” she said, as she was looking over the printed version of the adult class schedule. Bruce had sent her several copies in the mail. “Bruce said that I’m the only one whose shot that many!”

Paula used an old box camera for this photo in her 'Abandonment' series

Paula said that Bruce doesn’t expect her to take that many photographs, but she always wants to put her best foot forward. They both agreed that her photos got increasingly better as the summer went on.

“You just never know with photographs,” Paula said. “You can capture a moment that is special, but you have to take a lot of photos to get there.”

Besides the printed class schedules, Paula’s pictures are featured on the web site, and even in a Family Camp multi-media presentation.

Last year, Paula said the Family Camp slide show was a nail-biter.

“I was uploading photos until the last minute,” she confessed. “I wanted to put in as many current ones as I could.”

The 20-minute show had to be set to music, and minutes before it began, the equipment didn’t work.

It was mostly “operator error,” because she wasn’t familiar with the equipment. But the show went on without a hitch, except one family’s photos were left out.

“This year, I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I’m going to work from a master list of Family Camp members, and check them off as I go. I’d hate for anyone to be left out again!”

“It’s the best job on the mountain,” Paula exclaimed. “I don’t have to go to meetings, and I get to see firsthand what everyone is doing at Idyllwild Arts.”

'Abandonment' series by Paula Harding

You would think that after taking as many as 500 photos a day, Paula would want to do something else in her free time.

“I love taking portraits,” Paula said. “But landscapes are challenging for me. I’d like to take more of Idyllwild. There’s so much natural beauty all around me!”

For the daily shoots, Paula uses the school’s Nikon digital camera, but prefers Canons for her personal use.

“Overall, Canons deliver warmer tones, while Nikon’s colors tend to be cooler,” Paula said.

Although she’s modest about her photographic abilities, Paula has won many awards, in high school and in college, including a recent one for her “Abandonment” series. For those, Paula took pictures of abandoned buildings and people.

Was she referring to the homeless in Atlanta?

“Not exactly,” she said. “You’ll have to look at them and see.”

To view samples of Paula’s work, visit the Idyllwild Arts web site at www.idyllwildarts.org, and click on the Summer Program, and then select the Youth or Adult Course Catalogs. On Flickr (www.flickr.com), Paula won “Best Use of B&W” for the “My Atlanta” photo contest.

Paula also plans to show some of her photographs during the staff art show this summer at the Parks Exhibition Center. She doesn’t have a web site set up yet, but you can reach her at: paulaharding823@yahoo.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.