Road Trip! Valor photography students visit Los Angeles

Written by: Ben Beyers

Photos by: Jilian Buretz, Caleigh Schwarz, Sydney Swientisky, Ben Beyers, Mr. Von Qualen

This year was a fantastic year for photo trips!  We went to three different states and every class got  the opportunity to have a trip that met the intensity appropriate for the class level.  For the final trip this year, all photo students were invited to a great adventure to Los Angeles.  Our group was made up of three Photo III students, one Photo II student, and one student not in photo yet.  This trip was meant to teach the five of us about how all the arts now come together to work as one in the professional world.

So, our group was all set and it was time to head to Los Angeles for practicum.  LA was the perfect place for us to get to see how all the arts work together in the professional world.  It was also the perfect place for us to get some warmer weather.  I have memories from the past of the city being dirty, the ocean being brown, and packed highways (actually the traffic hasn’t really changed at all).  But overall, LA has a restored vibe that was really fun to experience on our trip.  


Right after our quick look around Venice beach, we headed up to a coffee shop a short walk away.  There we met with Valor alumni, Emma Wakely to talk about her job at Snap Inc.  She talked about how media and art is changing today because people “don’t really have an attention span anymore.”  The way that Snapchat tries to accommodate this idea is through their 24 hour cycles.  Nothing on Snapchat lasts more than 24 hours and that encourages the user to interact with it as soon as possible.  This is just simply the way that the world of media and news is moving.  After our meeting, she showed us the super secret headquarters of Snap Inc.  Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed inside, but it was still really cool to see the outside.  

Our next stop was the Santa Monica Pier.  The clouds started to clear up while we were driving up the Pacific Coast Highway and when we got to the pier, it was gorgeous.  After we swam upstream in the sea of people, I was surprised by a vivid turquoise ocean.  I’ve never seen the water so clear and blue in LA before!  The water got even more clear in Malibu.  We stopped at Point Dume.  This is an area famous for drone flying, rock climbing and hollywood filming.  This stop was amazing for some landscape photos and it was a major highlight of the trip for many of us.

The next day we had a seriously amazing opportunity.  We spent all day at Kingdom Industry.  Kingdom is an architectural design firm that is based in Thousand Oaks.  They have an amazing studio that they made out of steel shipping containers.  Everything they put into it has a purpose and you could feel it right when you walked in.  They put that same effort plus a lot more into their clients.  They have designed some amazing spaces and looks.  We were able to spend the whole day talking about what being an artist is like today and how to reach your clients to get the best results.  One of the best things that we got to talk about with them was being a Christian artist and what that means today.  The best piece of advice we got was that we shouldn’t separate our lives into small little sections of what we do, but instead combine everything into one amazing life.  Basically for art, this means that we should have our faith as a part of our art without being over the top.  One way that they do this is by designing spaces that match the person that their client is.  God creates everybody different so they try to get to know the individuals and get a feel for what fits their whole life.  Overall, it was really fascinating and all of us walked away with a lot more knowledge about being an artist and living life in general.  

Our next place to stop was a professional photo lab in LA.  Richard Photo Lab is one of the nation’s most famous labs and has done countless famous projects.  They develop film, do high quality digital prints, scanning, and even do darkroom work.  They gave our group a tour of their new facility in south Hollywood and showed us how their whole system works.  At the end of the tour I was able to give them my 35mm roll of Ektar that I had shot on the first day of our trip.  They gave me a great discount and even threw in free prints for me.  They also gave everybody a free roll of 120 film.  Richard Photo was a really fun part for a lot of us because it inspired us to shoot more film.  

The last stop of our trip before heading home was the famous Hollywood sign.  If you’ve ever been to the Hollywood area it’s pretty hard to miss.  Our group took the hike to the top of the sign, but made a couple of wrong turns making our hike longer than planned.  Some of those wrong turns actually turned out to be great photo ops.  It was really cool to see that different perspective of the sign.

All of us on the trip would agree that it was a very eye-opening experience of how art works outside of the classroom and in the professional world.  It was also just really great for us to get out and shoot in the beautiful weather.  Overall, it was a fantastic trip.