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Veterans learn the power of a picture thanks to program at Colorado Photographic Arts Center

The Veterans Workshop Series started in 2017. CPAC decided to step in and fill the need of veterans who wanted to explore photography and continue education.

DENVER — Photographs can say so much without using any words – they transcend language, inspire us and connect us.

“I want to create pictures that evoke feelings that are deep within a person, to make them want to do something different, to create change,” said Marie Miller, while holding her DSLR camera in her lap.

Miller is a photographer. She is also an Air Force veteran, which is what connected her to a program at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC).

The Veterans Workshop Series started in 2017. CPAC decided to step in and fill the need of veterans who wanted to explore photography and continue education, but who may have not had access to it or have been able to afford it.

“CPAC has decades of experience teaching adults the art of photography and is committed to the idea that the arts should be accessible to everyone,” said Samantha Johnston, the executive director and curator at CPAC.

Miller was excited when she heard about the program. She applied, was accepted, and like the other veterans, she completed the five-month program complete with critiques and guidance from professionals in the photography industry.

“I don’t get out to enough programs and events that have veterans in them,” Miller said, who was in the Air Force for 23 years.

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Ten veterans completed the 2019/20 program. Carl Steitz, an Army veteran, knew when he heard about the project-based program, he needed to sign up. He had loved photography as a kid watching his dad develop photographs, and as a young adult taking them for a living for a short time, but had put the camera down for years.

“When I saw this opportunity, If I can get accepted into this, this would be a heck of an opportunity to continue to enjoy my photography, Steitz said. “This did exactly what I was hoping it would do — take my photography to the next level.”

Adrienne Sommers, another Army veteran in the program, agreed. Her project connected her with WWII veterans. It is an experience she will never forget.

“This has been fabulous for me,” Sommers said. “This has been really meaningful for me, getting to meet WWII veterans.”

So far the series has helped 25 veterans learn and perfect the craft of photography. The five-month course culminates in a show at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center – something that gave Steitz nerves, and some pride, too.

“You never think about the day your stuff is hung up and you have strangers looking at your work,” Steitz said. “It’s got me thinking how proud my dad would be — he’d be like, ‘Oh yeah, that kid is alright.’”

The deadline to apply for the next Veterans Workshop Series is June 12, 2020. To apply, go to: cpacphoto.org/veterans-workshop-series-application/

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