By Stephanie Hernandez McGavin
The Meridian Times
On Wednesday, Feb. 18, award-winning photographer and author Ron St. Germain concluded the last of his winter season classes at the Harris Nature Center in Okemos.
St. Germain, who has been photographing since high school, holds the class twice annually, once in the spring and once in the winter.
The class covered skills like lighting, focal points, angles and matting.
For class, he pulled out his early collection of photos and asked students to point out the flaws in his work. St. Germain said during the class that he wanted to prove that improvement is inevitable with practice and a keen eye.
Student Jessi Adler said St. Germain’s method of teaching with personal examples helps her understand how to pick apart her own photography.
Adler said, “He’s done that every week. We’ve done some sort of game or slideshow that he’s been able to help us understand the differences between an OK shot and a great shot.”
Long before establishing himself as an award-winning nature photographer, St. Germain was attempting to find his place in the photography world. He decided he did not like people or event photography and instead “found a niche to be able to endure the elements and come out with shots.”
St. Germain said, “I really got this rush from getting something documented that, not only will some people will never do, but most people will never see.”
While student Kyle Cooper prefers to photograph people, he said the class offered an opportunity to consume St. Germain’s talent for nature photography in a way that allows Cooper to understand how deep a lens can go.
Cooper said, “I’m more of a portrait person, but I like his work because it gives you the sensibility that no matter where you are, you just have the opportunity to explore. And he brings that in to make it feel like you’re there in his photo, and you can see whatever he’s seeing—kind of like you’re brought into a different world.”
Now that St. Germain’s class has ended until April, he turns his focus to publishing his second children’s book.He published his first book, “Why is Everyone Coming to my House?,” in May 2014 under his own publishing company, Bearwave Publications. His next book, “I Love You More Than…,” is due out in April.
The books contain photos with elaborate settings like a miniature beach with a chipmunk lured in to look like it is relaxing on the sand. St. Germain said the staging and shooting of his books allowed him to prove that imaginative and complicated ideas did not need Photoshop to be possible.
“It all went back to, ‘this is all one click of the shutter—this is what photography is supposed to be.’ Photography is not supposed to to force you to believe something that’s not true,” said St. Germain.
Although his class does not use the staging and planning of his books, St. Germain said the purpose of the class it to establish a foundation for photography knowledge. He said the next step is for the most dedicated photographers, and that is to take the knowledge and actually go out and use it.
The spring session is $50 and will hold classes on April 15, 22 and 29.
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