Decatur mom struggled before photography career came into focus
By Ellen Eldridge, contributor
After Brook Hewitt lost her job teaching art at an Asian cultural center in 2009, she started cultivating her own business, combining her passion for teaching with her love of photography.
“I was a newly-single mom with no job and few skills outside of teaching,” she said. “I had no degree, so getting another teaching job during the fall of the economy was futile.”
She said she invested in herself by purchasing a digital camera and lenses.
“I studied photography in college and was an avid hobbyist for years,” she said. “I sort of quit doing it for a while when everything went digital.”
Hewitt now offers one-day workshops, summer camps and eight-week photography sessions in Decatur, Avondale Estates and other Atlanta locations. And she’s providing the expensive gear as part of the cost of tuition.
In an attempt to make a serious career from her love of taking pictures, she said she took many classes at The Showcase School, where she now teaches her “Camera Class for Kids.”
Being around kids always made Hewitt feel like she belonged and was doing important work.
“Teaching art to kids is a huge inspiration to me personally and artistically,” she said. “I’ve always felt that being able to peek into the creative mind of a child was a gift that is reserved for very few people.”
Hewitt has struggled to pursue her passions while paying the bills.
While teaching Lego robotics and science between 2011 and 2012, Hewitt said she continued building her photography skills shooting concerts.
“Adam Ant was a dream come true,” she said.
When her photography failed her financially she took other jobs. She said she took, “awful part time retail jobs for minimum wage when I was scared I wouldn’t get enough work to pay my bills.”
Jan Fields, the director of The Showcase School, became a mentor to Hewitt. Fields helped Hewitt connect with the Boys and Girls Club to teach a six-week course on photography. That was when Hewitt said she realized teenagers and their parents had a strong interest in learning digital photography, but not many parents wanted to make the investment in the gear for their young artists.
When Hewitt put together her first formal photography for teenagers curriculum, she pitched it to Fields.
“When she proposed workshops for kids, it seemed a perfect fit and a no-brainer to share space with her at The Showcase School,” Fields said. “Brook is a pleasure to work with and is always open to new ideas and learning opportunities. Her approach to teaching kids is open, flexible and creative.”
Sisters Sydney and Becca Buffington, 11 and 13, are repeat clients who signed up for two individual day camps and are currently enrolled in a third event.
“Brook is an amazing teacher, really understands photography and how kids comprehend it,” Sydney Buffington said. “She has an amazing personality and is great at teaching kids.”
“I really love taking her classes,” Becca Buffington added.
Last year, Garage Door Studio, an artist cooperative and boutique opened in Avondale Estates, offering painting, mixed media, sewing, crocheting, knitting, watercolor and robotics classes. Hewitt jumped at the chance to offer her photography classes at Garage Door Studio, too.
Lou Callaway, one of the four owners, enrolled her daughters, Coco, 11, and Katie, 12, in Hewitt’s eight-week class about a month after the studio opened.
“We just liked her,” Callaway said. “When you meet somebody and you just know you like them—she’s got that kind of personality. Her proposal was something we knew kids would love.”
More info on Hewitt’s summer camps:
Two Crafty Chicks, Decatur
Tablet photography ages 6-8
Garage Door Studio, Avondale
Photography Camp ages 8-13
Main Street School of Art, Tucker
Photography camp ages 8-15
The Showcase School of Photography, Atlanta
Photography camp ages 12-16
Visit www.cameraclassforkids.com for more information or to sign up.