Creative Career Cohort

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2024 Cohort Session One

We are proud to introduce and showcase the work of the 2023 Creative Career Cohort. This 17-week, three-part cohort explores photography, graphic design, lighting, styling, and editing.

Session One: Camera and Digital Editing Fundamentals

Elements of Design, Photography, Photoshop, and Intro to Graphic Design

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A boy swimming in a pool (Bohol, Philippines, Winter 2024). 

This is a photo of a boy in a swimming pool. I took this photo because it sparks feelings of innocence in childhood. I was walking by the pool when I saw this little kid splashing on the water. The sunlight reflected around him as if he’s spreading his glistening joy around the world. Oh to be a little kid again,not a care in the world. Who wouldn’t want to relive those days? I took this in my home country and it reminded me of myself years ago. I pictured myself in those same footsteps, I too was a little boy playing in the pool with my little hat. Do you picture yourself here too? 

The moon between the signs (Seattle, WA, Winter 2024). 

I took this photo because it reminded me of peace. The moon was shining bright and it was standing out in the quietness of the sky. It reminds me of how I feel when I’m around the person I love, she reminds me of the moon; standing out among the stars in the sky.

My experience with CCC has taught me significant things not only with cameras, but a lot about art in general. I often see people ask the question: What is art? I used to ask the same thing but now I know that art is whatever I want it to be.

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My name is Ayana and I am 16 years old. This is my second class at Youth In Focus but first time doing the Creative Career Cohort. This class has challenged me to find my own style through photography and what I can bring to the table with my creations. I attend Garfield High School which is located by The Central District where I decided to take my photos. I wanted photos of the Central District because it is a historically black neighborhood that showcases a lot of historic museums, restaurants, and stores from the past and present.

My first photo is a capture of a small family owned Ethiopian restaurant, Adey Abeba. I decided to shoot this photo of Adey Abeba because as the Central District is evolving it is important to remember the traditional restaurants that we still have with us. It is also important because many people moving into the neighborhood will be able to go to Adey Abeba and try new foods.

My second photo is taken of Parnells, a family owned mini mart that is also located in the Central District. Parnell’s is a staple for the community because of the bonds the owners have with their customers and being one of the few family owned businesses left. More and more grocery store chains are being implemented into the Central District but Parnells will always be unique and significant. These places are crucial for us to preserve to protect the culture and community that has been built for us and to keep it for the next generations to come.

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As a high school senior in a big city like Seattle, this year is usually all about college apps, growing up, moving on, and rushing to the end. For me, I worry about the end. I worry about time passing, and most of all, I worry about forgetting. Photos allow me to remember, and they give me the ability to look at each moment and scene as something beautiful to savor and hold on to. I want people to consider their life in the moment and the connections around them, instead of being so centered in the media that pushes our large-scale consumerism, micro trends, and the urge to live a life that is fast and fake. These photos represent the small things. Enjoying music, interacting with the people around you, and noticing the small things contrast the moods and habits of usual life. The issue I chose to focus on as my theme is climate change, and more specifically overconsumption, which stems partly from being so consumed in the media and trends. 

Photo 1: A cheerful vendor listens to music while selling art prints. 

What stands out is the repetition of the background and foreground that is filled with wonderful art that frame a guy who is so immersed in his own world and enjoying the moment with his headphones on. 

Photo 2: Person smiles at a customer who’s buying pretty parcels of valentines day gifts. 

Everything is so warm and red. Every section has more details and handmade goods. In the current day, everyone is so wrapped up in social media and a fake world that passes by so quickly, leading to the increase of consumption, and a lack of awareness for the small moments. One thing I want people to lean into more is the ability to observe the other perspectives that exist. In such a fast paced world, often the main thing we think about is our own perspectives- how people view us, what we’re going to do that day, what we’ll post on instagram, etc. I want to show people a peak into the lives of others, and remind them that these small moments among the strangers that surround us exist. 

In CCC and this YIF class, having access to a camera and being surrounded by people who are equally as interested in capturing different perspectives draws me more and more into noticing the minute details and moments that exist each day. Seeing everyone else’s creative processes in capturing and editing has been so eye opening and inspirational for me. These photos really lean into the composition and editing categories, as these were photos taken on the go while out on a walk. Finding the perfect place to stand out of the way of the crowd (and sometimes in the crowd) was one of the main thoughts behind these. 

What are routines in your life you take for granted? What are some small moments each day that ground you? Try making a cup of tea and watching the kettle boil instead of scrolling on your phone. Look out the window, study the pictures on the wall, watch the tea leaves stain the water with flavor and warmth and familiarity. Be the now.

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Khemmanat (Near) L.

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My name is Near L. I’m in 10th grade. What led me to the photography world was watching David Attenborough wildlife documentaries when I was growing up. I would imagine myself as the person taking the shots and constantly annoy my siblings by pausing the screen to analyze each shot I found interesting. 

The change I want to express through my photos is about protecting nature so David Attenborough can keep making films, but also because it’s good too.

In my first photo, I narrowed it down to protecting trees, the lungs of our land. Some context behind the photo is the transit station used to have lots of trees around it, but lots of them were cut down and replaced with an obsessive amount of city lights. The wavy streaks of the lights was a cool accident when I was playing around with the lighting of the camera settings. I kept it because it distorted around the trees, mimicking the situation.

For my second photo, it is about the wildlife of nature. Some important elements are the floss shaped like a fish, the fact that it’s plastic, and the crow itself is the subject taken. The crow, Monty, and I are close, so I knew he was smart enough to not actually eat the floss but pose with it, attracted by the banana bread I placed behind it. I wanted to show how different it was from when birds would eat their natural foods but now, they unknowingly digest litter and plastic. It would’ve been better if I used a bird that actually ate fish, but this was the only bird I knew was at ease with me so I went with that rather than spend countless hours with a random seagull that could possibly swallow the floss. What drew me to create this photograph was seeing all the plastic and trash at my bus stop everyday, because there’s so much wildlife that’s affected by it that you wouldn’t notice unless you stop and really look around and listen around the trees and bushes and cracks and crevices of the bus stop.


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My name is Nasra. I joined Youth in Focus because I was interested in photography. I didn’t have much experience with the camera so I started with no background knowledge of how a camera works. I have learnt a lot about photography during my time in Youth in Focus. I messed up a lot of times but in the end I learnt something new. I want to learn more every time I get something right or whenever I take a good picture.

I’m also the model in my photo. I chose this photo because I was impressed by how the light and motion  were captured by the camera. The light source was my Ramadan lamp. Ramadan photos normally look cheerful and lively. My photo looks a little different. I wanted to present something that a viewer can look at and think through their own perspective about what was trying to be portrayed. My intention was to make my photos Islam themed but also unique. I was trying to make it less religious to show the diversity of the Islamic community. This was like painting with light. Waving the lamp in different directions without knowing what the picture was going to look like was an interesting activity. I intended to capture a piece of my personality in the picture. I enjoy being alone and I find peace in my own company. The darkness could be understood as my seclusion and the light could be interpreted as how I feel being alone. I feel the most comfortable when I am with myself.

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I am Noor A. I am from Pakistan. This was my first time in an organized photography class. I have been a fan of photos ever since I was a kid.  My dad had a Canon camera that he took photos of whenever we went outside to a museum or a national park. I like taking photos because I can preserve them as a memento for the future. 

 A common theme in my pictures are people. Every person has a story that others don't know anything about. The emotions that are shown to people outside can be very different from what they actually feel. To capture a moment of someone in public where they are not posing for the camera makes me wonder about them and what things are they hiding.

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My name is Paloma Lee, I am 17 years old. This is my self portrait, it’s a long exposure and I like it because it highlights my eye makeup which I love to experiment with every day. I also love the blurriness and streaks of light that appear in my eyes. 

I chose these images because they remind me of a whimsical moment from two very different movies. Some of my favorite cinematography has been from Wes Anderson films, Bones and All, Emma., and Poor Things. These inspirations helped me come to the decisions I made for my finals. Their unique uses of symmetry, colors, eerie feeling scenes and unapologetic weirdness fed my creative mind. I am constantly inspired by artists around me and the people who produce the media I consume. These pictures encourage the viewer to create their own story and connection to a world of their own. 


I used a long exposure technique where I zoomed in slowly while taking a 2 second long image. This technique helped me produce this time warp of a picture. It’s hazy and drags you into the world it was taken in. 

Carrot top

Inspired by the phrase “carrot top” (when referring to red heads). It was taken on Vashon Island in a random book store. The woman with red hair is obscured by the carrot because it leaves questions unanswered. Who is this woman? What is she doing?

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My self portrait and the Skeleton poster picture both share a common theme of belonging and self identity, or rather lack of it- The bleakness and colorlessness represents an internal isolation and disconnection within me, about my culture and mother tongue -so much so, that I sometimes feel lost in terms of who I am. Which is sad, because I want to be close, and cling to my Pakistani culture. And In a way, the Skeleton in the second photo is an analogy of myself; a identity-less figure clinging to something dear in a place that lacks it. Although my home and certain cultural links have kept me close to my roots- it still feels like I leave a part of myself for when I go for school or anywhere in general that has me switch to my American/English side of me. Essentially that is why these two photos are the way they are, they show my current struggle for cultural identity within myself, but they lay a point of contrast for when I do feel connected to my roots.

The last photo of chai tea is my personal favorite photo of mine. The reason for this is because the chai tea shown in the photo has always been prominent in not only my life, but for my family as a whole; so when it came to the change I wanted to see (which was for more physical links to one’s own culture, in particular immigrants) it was an obvious personal choice to make chai as the main subject of this photo - as it truly is one of the only intractable links I have to my own culture.  By making the photo vibrant, bright and in a warm tone reflects not only the pleasurable experience of drinking a hot chai, but also the emotion and warmth that surrounds it when it was made and served to family - the warm feeling of home and belonging matches the essence of what this photo represents to me. It's a visual and physical representation of my roots, a celebration of culture, and a reminder of the warmth and love that my family shares, all encapsulated in the simple act of making and then enjoying a cup of chai together. 

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Dark and mysterious, first glance, colors, expression, dreams, engaging, contrast, texture, brightness, warm, vintage, fun, abstract, all words my classmates used to describe my art.

These Masks three in a row are so similar yet so different, all amazingly handcrafted for different meaning within each of them. The fuzziness and smoothness is cozy in a way.

The rainbowness and haziness of this character sitting all lonesome is so deep yet so colorful, the craziness but somehow put together makes you think about how you should be yourself and still be colorful while lighting up the world with your presence of being there. 

The CCC was amazing this quarter and I've loved coming to every class, being here with other artists my age is so cool. Realizing how we’re similar but so so different when it comes to art, Art is one umbrella but has so many different branches that helps someone describe themself that you’re unable to see from just glancing at them. 

Life is gorgeous, why don't you live it?

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Through these images I look for ways for the ordinary things in my life to be taken into new perspectives. I explored many different approaches, but it was motion and reflection the ones that captivated me the most. I like the idea of movement, since everything around us is in constant change, I wanted something that represented those transitions. In my view, I seek the ordinary and make it memorable, which is why photography becomes so impactful for me. I took the environment around me and made it everlasting through the click of the camera. 

(First) image includes the movement of hands, showing the change in position over a small portion of time. This technique is something really fun to experiment with, because the results are often unexpected. It truly has the effect of seeing something as simple as hands in a new abstract way, which makes little things more engaging for me. 

The (Second) image is simply my cat. He is the most entitled muse ever, but my go-to subject when experimenting photography. His eyes are often something I want to focus on, especially in the reflection of what he sees and what he finds entertaining. His mind is always a mystery to me, and I felt that capturing his eyes would give me a little clue of his weird mind.