Chapter Members Mentor Young Photographers

ASMP South Florida Chapter members Dennie Cody and DK Khattiya are the first team to bring the Young Photographers Alliance Mentoring Program to Thailand, where they live and work part of the year.

E-mailing today from Bangkok, Cody says “We see this as a great opportunity to open doors to different cultures and bring unique new perspectives from the other side of the world to the YPA mission.”

Photograph by YPA Thailand mentee Suntuk Talek. Mentor Dennie Cody says Talek “photographed this image of smoke as part of this years theme which is “Energy is Everything”. He sees the smoke as an indicator of the energy expelled from fire, from the universal saying “Where there is smoke there is fire.”

Editorial Note: the following has been edited from news release provided by Deborah Free of the YPA.

The Young Photographer’s Alliance (YPA), an educational foundation dedicated to developing the talent of young photographers, announced today in New York City its second international mentoring opportunity for students and recent graduates of college-level photography programs. This year’s theme, “Everything is Energy,” focuses on the powerful forces that shape our world, our politics, our environment, our lives and ourselves.

“YPA’s inaugural mentoring program in 2010 was a resounding success and we’re thrilled to offer this tremendous opportunity to a new group of aspiring image makers,” commented Jerry Tavin, YPA Co-founder and president. “Energy is anything and everything,” he continued. “It can be human, physical, mental, spiritual, a force of nature, mechanical, technical, invented or created. The goal of this project is for young photographers to look beyond the obvious and explore the theme metaphorically in a way that sheds new light on the human condition.”

Thai photographers being mentored by South Florida Chapter members Dennie Cody and DK Khattiya , photographed by Cody in Bangkok. 

Developed with the support of a grant from the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), the YPA mentor program pairs emerging photographers with a leading photographer. Each student is encouraged to push boundaries and shed light on the subject in new and innovative ways within the context of their photographic specialty, including portraiture, photojournalism, landscape, architectural photography and more. The deliverables will be not only a collection of thought-provoking images, but also a written essay from each mentee that offers insight and inspiration to viewers. In addition to helping these protégées fine-tune their artistic talent and build their portfolios, the program offers them an unparalleled opportunity to develop business skills and explore markets for their work.

More than 50 students will be participating this year. The North American teams include students from colleges across the country mentored by 17 renowned photographers, including Barbara Bordnick, Lynne Damianos, Dirk Fletcher, Rafael Soldi and others. In addition, students in China, Thailand and the UK will partner with celebrated artists such as Sophie Batterbury, Dennie Cody, Shannon Fagan, Duangkamon Khattiya, Justin Sutcliffe and John Wright

Young Photographers Alliance is a global community where young photographers connect with the inspiration, resources and contacts they need to build successful and sustainable careers as the artists and communicators of the future. The foundation brings together a wealth of industry experience through its board and membership and offers real-world knowledge, insight, experience and contacts to help students and other emerging photographers develop their artistic skills and business acumen as photography professionals.  Likewise, through its programs, YPA helps established photography professionals connect with the next generation of innovative image-makers.  For more information, visit YPA online at

In the weeks ahead, YPA will be seeking volunteers to assist with the 2011 YPA Awards Ceremony and Benefit, which will take place on Wednesday October 19. To volunteer or for more information, please contact Deborah Free at 585-768-7880 or

Backyard Creatures Crawl Into Personal Project

Before chapter member Aaron Ansarov moved to South Florida four years ago, he spent 15 years in the U.S. Navy as a combat photojournalist and magazine photographer. He lives in Broward County with his wife Anna, 10-year-old son Corbin and 11-month-old daughter Anabella. As a guest blogger he wrote this post.

One of the most fascinating things a photographer can do to revitalize the passion in their lives is to just shut up, stop complaining and shoot photographs they love by way of a personal project.

Finding something that interests them and making images about it always turns out to be successful in one way or another. Whether its a marketable series of images for the next best selling book or simply a personal print in the bathroom, it’s guaranteed something positive will happen… personal growth.

One such project for me has been my Backyard Treasures photographs.

Since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by the multitudes of living creatures that surround us. No matter how big or small, these creatures’ lives have purpose. They’re right there under our noses in our own backyards, sidewalks and parks. But we tend to overlook, ignore, squish and exterminate them because they may not fit into our lives. If we get up really close and personal with these creatures we can see that they are worthy of understanding and appreciation. I am not sure they have souls, but I do know they have a story to tell and I want to show that through a portrait.

After 15 years as a military and combat photographer, I have seen and done more than most. I can honestly say I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt and photos to prove it. But when it comes to wrangling and photographing a portrait of a captured wild creature in a studio setting I was a little challenged.

For this personal project I set a parameters for myself and followed a few rules in order to make this project consistently follow a theme. It was very important not to drift from my parameters too much, remember that (like a creature) this project is a living and breathing entity that grows in it’s own way.

 - All creatures must not be harmed. To me, this is an obvious issue. Poisonous, stinky, slimy or just plain nasty, these are living creatures. They need to be treated with the utmost respect.

- All creatures must have come from the wild. No museums, zoos or pets. My subjects must come from the local area and the wild. In Florida we have a problem with many creatures that are not indigenous. That does not matter to me. If they are in the wild and making a life for themselves, then they are fair game.

- All creatures must be released back to the wild unharmed.

Within this framework I rely on my creativity, tempered with the manageability of the creature. Sometimes a subject will give me 30 minutes to shoot, while others will be there for two frames and fly away. The trick is to be prepared in advance.

I use a multitude of lighting scenarios with white or black backgrounds, often vinyl or foam core, and on occasion, I experiment with glass or plastics. I focus on the colors and design that make these creatures so unique. Removed from their natural setting, the eye sees what is most important, the subject.

When in my home studio I use Elinchrom light kits with a series of modifiers ranging from strip lights to a six-foot octabank. This gear is amazing and really makes a difference to me. Of course some may think it a little overkill to shoot a ladybug with an octabank, but I don’t think so. The quality of light that comes from these is amazing.

I shoot with a Nikon D90 and a 60mm macro lens, and for larger creatures I use a 17-55mm, focusing as close as possible. When in a backyard other than my own, I use several Nikon SB-800 flashes controlled wirelessly.

So far, I have photographed over 150 species and I hope that I can eventually shoot every species in the U.S.

Images from this and other personal projects can be seen on my website at

Member Spotlight: David Benoliel Provokes A Feeling

David Benoliel, who recently joined our South Florida chapter after moving to Miami from Paris, is featured in this Member Spotlight, an occasional series of articles introducing the photography of chapter members to each other.

David, who specializes in fashion and still life, reports he discovered photography only a few years ago, and since taking several workshops at the International Center of Photography in New York City on lighting and editing, he’s learned the rest of his craft by himself during studio sessions. Working with a Hasselblad H4D, he works with clients in the United States and around the world.


“Fragility” was created for the exhibition “Arts For A Better World” during Art Basel 2010. David created 13 original works depicting beauty and nature. “It was a really exciting challenge and this one represents the fragility of earth getting old (with the white hair)”, David says. (Makeup and Hair by Eliut Turin)

David distills his creative philosophy as follows:

“The collaboration of light and beauty is what breathes life into my work, the unique images are produced through my appreciation for strong features and sharp colors. I feel that an image should provoke a feeling and it should inspire or trigger something very deep within the observer. I like to reveal the beauty of each woman’s personality and individuality through my photographs.”

Model and reflection in mirror photographed for editorial fashion spread.

 David is the owner of AD013 Studio that features shooting space, instruction and a “creative emporium”, and is located North of downtown Miami in the Little River neighborhood.

“Cotton dream” was also shot for the “Arts For A Better World” exhibition, in which 40 artists participated. David says that “because the model looked so natural and fresh we decided to go with this mood of clean and pure with a touch of nature in it. The makeup on the lips to accentuate her doll-like innocence.” (Makeup and Hair Eliut Turin)

Focus Your Passion With Portfolio Therapy

After conducting a successful series of workshops in the “Land of Smiles” better known as Thailand, two South Florida ASMP photographers have returned to Miami to share their professional guidance with interested photographers here.

Bangkok, Thailand © 2010 DK and Dennie Cody

DK Khattiya and Dennie Cody, partners in a new consulting firm known as “Portfolio Therapy” are now planning a series of workshops in our area beginning with the first one on March 19, 2011. It is entitled  “How to Become a Better Photographer” which is aimed at professional, emerging and advanced amateur photographers who are looking for direction in defining their career goals and creating a portfolio that tells their story.

Denny Cody, left,  DK Khattiya, right. © 2010 DK and Dennie Cody

 Dennie and Dk have also been doing “One on One” private sessions with many photographers, both here and in Thailand with success stories which include a newly minted fashion photographer, a new food photographer, an underwater photographer who has a new career shooting resorts and several others who are doing books based on their portfolio analysis.

 Man with 3D glasses. © 2010 DK and Dennie Cody

Their “One on One” sessions focus on finding the passion and pattern in the photographer’s work, which will define their best chances for success in the photo industry. Dennie says “most photographers are their own worst editors so we help them see what they cannot and when we make a suggestion, they almost always say wow you are right, I just never realized it before. That is when you know you are making a difference.”