"Bursting Your Shy Bubble" by Kayla Cerda

Alicia Hansen - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

By Kayla Cerda

Bursting your shy bubble might not be the easiest thing to do nowadays. NYC Salt not only taught me to better myself as a photographer, but also allowed me to gain confidence in myself and my work. I learned how to approach strangers on the streets and ask them for their portrait, aware that rejection is okay. Photography shouldn't always be about capturing still objects because what's the fun in that? Once you get on the streets, see someone interesting, you just have to go for it. 

The first time I approached a stranger to ask if I may take their portrait was during comic-con week. I remember feeling so jittery and becoming hopeless that I'll never be able to ace the easiest task we received... take a strangers portrait. As I approached a few people, I thought to myself, that wasn't so hard after all. The key in taking a stranger's portrait is to also make them feel comfortable. If the vibe is awkward, then the stranger might not be interested. Sometimes it might just be all mental. If you worry about rejection or that you’ll blank out while introducing yourself, then you’ll never be able to unveil the shyness in you. 

After a while I became confident enough to approach strangers for their portrait without having my friends or teachers by my side. I tried not to seem so reluctant and worked at just being myself. In the long run shooting people wearing comic-con costumes was more than successful because I ended up winning a Scholastic Silver-Key Award this year on one of my portraits!

Salt Summer Camp: Danny Martinez On Storytelling

Alicia Hansen - Thursday, August 28, 2014

I've had the amazing opportunity to help teach a week long photography course for students at Junior High School 113 in Fort Greene Brooklyn along side an amazing photographer named Ruddy Roye. 

Aside from his remarkable skill he is an amazing person and really has a passion for what he does. While I’m suppose to help assist Ruddy in teaching children about photography I found myself listening to him and being a student myself! 

One thing that really came across to me is the importance of a story, and having something to say in your photographs. With that said, this is one of the first photos I’ve taken that I feel has a genuine story in it. 

While I watched the two children sitting in a playground while being totally immersed in the iphone I laughed at the irony of the situation and quickly captured the image. Growing up just before the era of technology skyrocketed I was able to enjoy my time in the playground. I find it sad some kids just wont experience their first “scraped knee”. Thank you Ruddy Roye for your inspiration. You’ve changed the way I look at photography and I’m forever thankful for that. Its a pleasure to work beside you. 

-Daniel Martinez

Salt Summer Camp: Austin's Teaching Experience

Alicia Hansen - Thursday, August 28, 2014

by Austin Canales

I've never before had an experience teaching. It was something I felt that I could do, however I never saw myself as being knowledgable enough to teach anybody anything. I was utterly amazed at the experience I had teaching the middle school students at MS 113 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn at Camp SALT. I had never seen so much potential displayed by a group of young kids ages 9 to 13. 

However, that wasn’t all. I fell in love with the community of Fort Greene. The diversity of people and cultures that were there was something I had not seen before, not in my neighborhood at least. I have grown up without much privilege and opportunity. I didn’t have so many available experiences in a single neighborhood. I didn’t have as diverse of a school, as friendly of a basketball court, and as united of a community. I only spent about four days there, but I felt at ease walking through the neighborhood. It was an amazing experience. I hope more like it come in the future. 

My Journey Towards Becoming a Well-Rounded Individual by Kedwein Valdez

Alicia Hansen - Friday, February 14, 2014

by Kedwein Valdez
In college, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in schoolwork, jobs, internships, etc. Sometimes you forget to take a step back and remember where you came from and how you got there. There’s a special program that I hold close to my heart that I want to dedicate this post to. NYC SALT, “ a non-profit photography program serving inner city teenagers. Through professionally led instruction, we seek to engage, inspire and empower kids to have a voice in their world and become all that they are created to be.” To the public this might seem like a well-crafted mission statement used to appeal to the masses. Looking at this statement now, I know all too well how accurate these words are. SALT was so much more than just an after school program to me, it was a home away from home. 

As a kid I was always interested in photography, which is what first brought me to their front door. Little did I know I would learn so much more then just photography skills. They taught that sometimes things don’t come automatically; every skill requires you to keep working on it week by week; each time improving just a little more. They taught me to always be open to criticism, because every critic is a new opportunity to learn. At SALT, I learned to look deeper into things and find different meanings. 

I remember when our assignment was to shoot clutter; I took a picture of my grandmother’s room. At the time, I just saw a messy room; although now, after my grandmother has passed away, I see so much more in my own picture. I see so much of whom she was and what she believed in, (things I wouldn’t normally see in glammed up pictures of her). SALT was more than just a photography class. They took the time to help whenever we needed them. When it came to inquiring about scholarships, or just looking over college essays they were always there. So I just wanted to give a big THANK YOU to everyone at SALT, although I don’t show it enough, I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me. You’ve helped shape who I am today.

Ashley Ventura's College Essay

Alicia Hansen - Sunday, December 15, 2013

SALT student for 2 years 

Student at Syracuse University 
Scholastic Art Award winner 2013 

The most common question any child is ever asked is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Before the summer of 2012, I thought, “I’m not a child anymore. 

What do I want to be?” Unfortunately, I still didn’t know the answer. This was where NYC Salt entered the equation. NYC Salt is a non-profit photography organization that helps inner-city youth learn who they are and inspires them to be who they’re truly meant to be. I was recommended to enroll by my guidance counselor, and this organization has changed my life immensely. This was surprising, because I had never gotten an opportunity to fully invest myself in something I found satisfaction in. I have learned to see things with a whole new perspective, and it has motivated me to take every single chance given to me in order to live the happy and successful life I’ve always dreamed of. 

Over the summer of 2012, I was given the chance to attend the School Press Institute at Syracuse University. Accepting this opportunity finally gave me a chance to travel away from home and experience a new environment. Even though I’m from a working class family and acknowledged as a minority, it doesn’t mean I’m not able to create a major goal I can accomplish. I discovered the meaning to “anything is possible,” because while studying there, I felt completely excited by everything I was introduced to. It felt as if I was destined to be there at that moment because I was happy. Not only did I love what I was learning — I loved learning itself. This encouraged me to continue seeking what it is I would like to become. That week convinced me that I was capable of completing any goal I wanted and that I was also capable of dreaming as big as I wanted. Being the daughter of a single mother, I have never been able to afford any kind of enrichment activity as wonderful as the School Press Institute. That experience allowed me to build a bridge of hope for myself. My whole entire life I have been preparing myself to be successful and to fully invest myself in something that truly inspires me. On the quest to fulfill the answer to that mocking question, I have maintained a positive attitude towards everything I have been accomplishing. I’ve participated in many school activities to help me figure out what I would like to be — everything from cooking classes, to track, to dance, to photography. Those activities allowed me to gain marvelous experiences which I am grateful for; however, individually none of them were my calling. Until I went to Syracuse, I wasn’t exactly sure what that was. Now, I am sure that what truly inspires me is the idea of growing as a person. What I want to be when I grow up is the best version of myself. I’m hopeful and anxious for my upcoming journey, where I can share the ideas I’ve gained with people who aspire to be happy and grow limitlessly the same way I do.

Soon to be College Freshman....Heriberto Altieri

Alicia Hansen - Friday, June 08, 2012
SALT student for 1 year 
Currently a student at St. John's University
Recipient of the Moth Scholarship 

Written in 2012, the summer before going to college. 

My name is Heriberto Altieri, and I am soon to be a freshman in college, attending Suny Delhi to study Marketing. I joined NYC SALT the beginning of my senior year of high school, and I feel that since I joined NYC SALT doors have been open for me. Photography has become more than taking a photo to me, it has become a way to tell stories and strike emotions without using words. 

My interest in journalism comes from writing and always wanting to be able to document important events that occur in my life or in anyone else’s life as well. I also took a school trip to Columbia University and sat in a seminar discussing journalism majors in college. The reaction I got from my peers when they saw my photos, was an eye opener because I thought I was the only person who understood the emotions I put in my pictures but the power of imagery showed me people can connect with me through my work. 

As I grow as a young man in New York City, I am inspired to become a diverse journalist. In the near future I plan on having a popular website in which I will include different videos and photos, based on different topics on a consistent schedule. In order to fulfill this dream, I have to become a skilled journalist and photographer/videographer. In college, I will take advantage of all the classes that will teach me the skills and techniques, to reach the goals I want to exceed in journalism. NYC SALT will help me be a proficient journalist and an expert with imagery. After NYC SALT I expect to use what I learned and take creativity to a level that I cannot grasp at this point in my life with photography.

Ydalmi Estrella Testimonial

Alicia Hansen - Thursday, May 10, 2012
SALT Student for 3 years. 
Student at Stockton Community College

My name is Ydalmi Argentina Estrella, and I am seventeen years old. I have been studying photography for about three years. It all began when I went on a website called Model Mayhem. Before photography, I wanted to pursue a career in modeling. I would try to set up photo shoots so I could build a portfolio, but I was not successful. On this website, I was inspired by the pictures some of the photographers captured, and thought to myself, "photography might be my calling". 

I decided that I wanted to go from being in front of the lens to behind the lens where I have an opportunity to capture wonderful occurrences in life. After that day, I picked up an old Minolta film camera I had lying around my house, and began shooting. It was a great camera, but after a while, developing the photos became costly. I decided to go online and look for a good camera I could buy that wasn't too expensive. I found a Nikon D40 for $450, and by saving some money every week from my two jobs I managed to buy the camera. Ever since that day, I have been carrying that camera with me everywhere I go. 

Before photography, I felt lost. I did not know what I wanted to do in life. Everyone would always ask, "What do you want to be when you grow up?", and I’d give a blank stare. With my camera, I've gotten the opportunity to capture pictures that I’d never thought I’d be capable of. I was able to prove to everybody that I could actually be good at something. 

I enjoy taking pictures of open spaces, scenery, abstract nature, and rising models. I could be just about anywhere and take captivating photographs. I consider myself an amateur in photography simply because of the fact that I have so much more to learn. However, I am very proud of my work, and very confident that it can take me far. 

In my NYC Salt program, I’ve gotten the opportunity to gain the confidence in myself I never knew existed. I’ve sold my work and have become rather comfortable speaking in front of a large audience. I am extremely proud and grateful to be a part of such an amazing program. Not only have I developed my photography skills because of this program, but I have also learned how to lose the fear of approaching strangers, learned valuable lessons on how to be professional, learned how to work in a team, and so much more. This program has exposed me to so many great things such as getting scholarships to participate in a photography program at my dream school. 

This previous summer I was given the opportunity to attend the SPI Advanced photography program at Syracuse University. In the limited time I was there, I met some amazing people and experienced many wonderful moments. Our photography teacher for the week, James Kenney, taught me a valuable lesson that I carry with me to this very day. Kenney taught me that not everyone is going to like my work, but despite this, to never give up. This program allowed me to expand my horizon on the various types of photography out there and just go for anything I set my mind to. This program also gave me a gist of what the college life was like, and I loved every single minute of it.

"My Internship With DVF" by Devin Osorio

adam chinitz - Monday, August 01, 2011
SALT student for 8 years 
Student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, majoring in Textiles 
$50,000 in art scholarships 

This is Devin’s essay about the internship he had with Diane Von Furstenberg through a connection one of our photographers had with the company. 

Living the life of a fashion designer is not all about the high fashion glamour and paparazzi annoyance.  It also includes my favorite part, the nitty gritty background work. Work that can be spent sewing beads to nude organza, or photo copying pattern pieces in order to create “the dress”. Interning for the world renown fashion designer, Diane von Furstenberg, not only taught me this, but let me experience it hands on. 

I started in the beginning of July as a design intern. I created samples for designers to integrate into catwalk pieces. Not only did I learn very helpful and useful sewing techniques, I developed a new way of seeing design.  Before this summer my mind was limited to garments made of only fabric. Now a garment can incorporate just about anything; cork, beads, or even chicken wire! I also learned about life by interacting with the other interns. I learned to enjoy more and to open my horizons! 

Most of the interns are foreign, which is amazing. They they are also older which forced me to mature the more I spoke to them. They spent all their time going out and experiencing New York. They saw and did things I’ve never done in my own city. They inspired me to do the same..... someday. 

I now have friends in London, Israel, San Francisco, France, and the Ukraine! 
Here are a few UK lingo tips I picked up: 
a. Naf, something which is tacky. 
b. Skanky, something which is cheap. 
c. Cheers, used instead of thank you 
d. Fancy, used when you really like someone or something/ used when you have a crush on someone 
e. Fit, someone whom is more than “hot” but “sexually arising” 
f. “You Alright?”, casually asking how someone’s day is going, not in a concerned context. 

We spoke about colleges, since I have to apply soon. I heard their experiences in applying, their expectations and if they were fulfilled. Now I can say truthfully that Central Saint Martins in London is my number one choice! 

The time I spend with these new friends created a “DVF family” and rekindled a dream of mine.... A life of independence, responsibility, and the challenge of living in a new country.... Developing new friends, a new home, and perhaps another “new family”. A family made up of  of roommates and neighbors. Meeting Neil Gilks was very important to me. Neil is the intern king, he runs the program and is an AMAZING human being. I see him as a role model. Not only his successes, but the graceful way he handles them. 

I may love the background work, but I will admit the glamour is fun.  There was always something going on! In the second week Gossip Girl was shooting in the showroom and I got to see some of the stars! There are lots of movies that are filmed near the DVF Showroom, and I have spotted Joseph Gordon-Levitt many times! I was given a singed copy of Diane’s biography. In it she wrote, “enjoy it all + go for it.” After this summer, that is exactly what I plan to do! Now my motto is, “want it, go for it.” The worse “they” can say is “no!”

"Mario" by Lewis Escano

Alicia Hansen - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

By Lewis Escano

Through my photography, I love to tell stories and capture moments;  show the little details and the joys in life. Photography opens my eyes to the world around me. For example, the following story of Mario:

I went to Honduras during the summer of 2010. I met a little kid named Mario who lived across the street from where I was staying. It turned out he was an orphan. He liked my hair. I have what you might call big hair. He didn’t speak at all. He also didn’t know what a camera was, so I let him play with it and look through the viewfinder. He took a picture of me and then when he saw it on the back of the camera, he just looked at it and then back at me and then back at the camera. He didn’t know what had happened.

After that, I went every day to play with him. I photographed him every day. I also tried to get him to talk. I bought him a ball and some chips, and slowly he started to trust me. A week before I was supposed to leave, he talked! He said “bye” to me when I was leaving his house.

This made me want to pursue my interest in photography to tell stories and help others.

"Inspired by Ewing Blumenfield" by Devin Osorio

adam chinitz - Sunday, January 30, 2011

by Devin Osorio

I am currently in the process of creating a fashion portfolio for my college application to Fashion Institute of Technology. I was trying to find a way to incorporate both my love of fashion and photography in hopes to make me stand out. With this in mind I spent a day in Kristen Somody Whalen's home (she's one of our photography teachers) studying piles of books filled with pictures from fashion photographer greats such as Louise Dahl Wolfe, Melvin Sokolsky, and Hiro. Within these books I came across Ewing Blumenfield's image of a girl under a veil. This picture blew my mind! It was exactly what I wanted for my portfolio. In my mind, I saw an image of a girl with fabric blowing from her face and one of my accessories dressed beautifully on her neck, creating a cross image between Victor and Rolf's "Flowerbomb" campaign and the outfits for the guy in "The Elephant Man".

So with Alicia's help in the photography studio, I had my model stand in front of the window creating beautiful soft lighting which worked great against my models skin and face shape. I used a black card in back of her to make the colors of the fabric and accessories stand out.


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