"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!

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.

"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.

Danny Martinez Testimonial

Alicia Hansen - Saturday, January 15, 2011

Growing up in the Bronx molded me to be the individual I am today. People associate The Bronx with gangs and violence and it’s universally considered to be a place you would not like to grow up. But the way I look at it, there is beauty in everything. 

I grew up pretty fast, both because of my neighborhood and my four older brothers. Boys being boys, there would often be a “royal rumble” in my room, so I started to take photos of it with an old Polaroid camera my Dad got me. My father was into photography, but when I was around four or five years old, he was in jail for a year. My mom and I would go visit him on a long bus ride. She told me: “This is where your Dad works”. I guess she knew I wouldn’t understand the concept of jail at such a young age. 

I would always bring my Dad some of my photos. Most of them were of my brothers wrestling, some were of the family dog. They always made him happy. I thought it was cool that a simple photo could make somebody smile and laugh. I realized at a young age that images evoke emotion. As I got older and experimented with photography, I began to make other people smile as well. Telling stories without a single word is one of the most appealing things to me. No matter how complex your vision, it can always be translated into a photograph. 

Photography helps me see different perspectives. Having a quiet personality, it has helped me feel more comfortable talking with people: telling them about my work, letting them know why I made a certain photo or simply describing the point I had tried to capture. I love reactions to my photos; it’s the best feeling when somebody smiles or just stares, clueless, trying to figure out technically, how I made it. 

My Dad passed away from cancer when I was 16 years old and that really changed things for me. It made me appreciate life more and recognize that our time here is limited. Being exposed to the danger and poverty of my neighborhood also made me appreciate the basic things in life. It encouraged me to not waste my talent and to try to take up Gandhi’s challenge: “Be the change you want to see in this world”. 

Teenagers are faced with a harsh reality nowadays. I want to make a change, starting in my community. I want to give teenagers a resource besides school where they can focus their talents. My goal is to create an after school program for teenagers who are interested in art: Drawing, Photography, Cinematography, Sculpting, and more. I want to help kids who are less fortunate than I was. Whether it’s with one kid or one hundred kids, I’m determined to have an impact. 

 In this world I feel everybody is an artist, they just have to find their medium.

"My Amazing Mentor - Adam Chinitz" by Christian Rodriguez

Alicia Hansen - Saturday, November 20, 2010
SALT student for 3 years 
Student at the Savannah College of Art and Design 

“Be around the people you want to be like, because you will be like the people you are around.” 

By Christian Rodriguez

Feeling hopeful makes hard work so rewarding, my influence to do the things I do better, Adam Chintz a freelance photographer based in New York City does not fail to make me feel hopeful about the future that is to come. I met Adam through NYC SALT, a program that teaches kids the ins and outs of photography and the photography business. Right when we met I felt like we would be good friends but never thought that we would work together and hang out. One night I was invited to celebrate Adams birthday which I thought was so cool only because of the age difference of the people that would be at the celebration, I think that's when I realized that Adam and I were friends. Our similarities are what played a vital part in our friendship and in my question-less belief that Adams’ advice was always valid. Our love for classic rock is what I feel and believe brought us together as friends, on a regular basis at the studio we’ll work and there is no doubt that Jimi Hendrix will be playing in the background. 

Adams adoration for photography is alone inspiring and beautiful in the way that just by being in his presence it makes me want to absorb all the knowledge that he is and isn't trying to pass down onto me. Adam will say things like, “Dude, you gotta think bigger and not limit yourself with smaller things or thoughts.” Although I sometimes feel like these sayings may sound corny, its true just because I do tend to limit myself only because of fear, feeling that I might fail sometimes makes me pace myself. Adams consistent influence on me helps me shoot for nothing but the best. 

My love for photography started when I got my first camera phone, the first generation iPhone. I played with that and felt that maybe I had an eye. I continued to shoot with my iPhone and then finally stepped my game up to an SLR, I had no idea what to do and found myself almost dropping the idea of photography. Four years into the hobby and Adams influence in my work I will be going to college to study photo journalism all thanks to someone who influenced me to do better. I consistently find myself wondering, “What would Adam do? How would he make a situation like this simple?” These thoughts spawn from the fact that Adam has implanted ever lasting ideals of doing better, getting close to perfection if not achieving perfection. I’ve always felt like I always did an average job and most of the time I do, not because I aim to under achieve but because I never gave it thought that a job or choir could be rated from bad to OK, to great. It wasn't until Adam had me thinking that the only way to do something was to do it correctly and if possible, perfectly. 

 I can’t wait till the day when I’ve found myself in my own work and I can tell Adam that somewhere in there his influence made my work better and more complete. I cant find a way to thank Adam for being the coolest white dude I know and for putting aside his whiteness to help a fellow Hispanic. All I can say is, “ Adam, when will you give your fellow Hispanic friend your Leaf AFi 6x6 Medium format camera?”


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