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Earlier this month the girls and I had the opportunity to participate in a local photography program called Picture Your World, hosted by Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas. During the workshops held monthly from September – April, kids ages 8-18 have the opportunity to learn photographic composition and technique through hands-on demonstration and constructive critique. For our workshop, we met at Incarnate Word University, and after a brief lesson on depth of field, we went on a group hike to the Blue Hole, a part of the Headwaters at Incarnate Word.

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The workshop itself was a great lesson, although a little advanced for my budding mini photographers, there were a number of students who were regulars at the workshops. Carra Garza, program manager for Picture Your World, also had digital cameras available for anyone who needed one. My girls were thrilled to have a camera all to themselves for the afternoon (we’re big on sharing devices at our house), and we received a flash drive with a copy of all of their photos at the end of the program.

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Our hike lasted for about 2 hours, and we were led by a Master Naturalist who answered questions about the plant life and a history of the Blue Hole. I had no idea that there was such a large nature sanctuary right in the middle of San Antonio. And although there was no water in the Blue Hole while we were visiting, I hear it’s quite a site to see when it’s flowing.

The primary goal of the photography program is to connect kids with their outdoor environment while engaging their imagination and learning new skills with hands-on photography experience. My girls both came away eager to take more photos and requests for cameras of their own (hello birthday gift ideas!).

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In conjunction with the weekend workshops, Green Spaces Alliance also leads similar workshops at local underserved elementary schools, and hosts an annual photography competition. The deadline for this year’s Picture Your World Youth Photography Competition is Monday, April 9th, and is open to all kids ages 8-18 (no prior participation in the workshops is required). In addition to cash prizes, winning photographs are displayed throughout the summer at REI, San Antonio in their community room and Phil Hardberger Park Urban Ecology Center in the Fall.

My kids are super excited about submitting their own photos from the workshop into the competition–and Eleanor has been scouting additional locations to take photos, too.

The next photo workshop will be at the Bracken Bat Cave, home to the world’s largest bat colony, held on Sunday, April 15 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm.