The branches of the United States military stress the importance of duty and assisting fellow service members. For many veterans, that sentiment extends after being discharged from active duty. For brothers Bill and Steven Espinosa – Vietnam War veterans who served in the Army and Navy, respectively – that desire to help has led them to teach a photography course for fellow veterans in a class offered through Santa Barbara City College in California.
The introductory course – “Digital Photography: Techniques and Creative Applications in a Community-Oriented Setting” – gives students access to digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs), with many using this type of camera for the first time. Canon has provided multiple EOS Rebel T6 cameras for the class and is in the process of loaning other equipment in continuing to offer resources to take the best photos possible while also being able to produce their work on Canon imagePROGRAF photographic printers.
Both Bill and Steven began as students in the class, which was started by Terence Ford and his fStop Foundation, whose goal was to offer digital photography instruction to veterans and first responders at Santa Barbara City College’s Wake Campus. Ford, the brother of actor Harrison Ford, had worked in commercial photography and the film industry in Los Angeles for decades before starting the photography class.
“It’s important to provide an opportunity for veterans to reconnect and both offer and receive peer support to develop a community where everyone feels engaged,” said Ford said, whose program was also embedded at Camp Pendleton’s Wounded Warrior Battalion West and four years at the Pathway Home at the Soldiers Home in Yountville, California. “Programs such as these photography classes allows veterans to learn new skills while forging social connections, creating a strong community.”
The class proved popular and soon the brothers became part of the Veteran Photography Program. That initiative has made an impact on the lives of former service members, both in the class and in the larger community.
Some of the students in the course have selected their best work from the semester, and printed and framed the photos to decorate Johnson Court, an affordable housing development that serves the Santa Barbara homeless veteran population. The photographs were printed via Canon Professional large format printers , including the 24-inch imagePROGRAF PRO-2100 and the 17-inch Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printers. In total, 20 photos taken on Canon cameras were selected, professionally printed and framed. The veterans living in Johnson Court then selected which ones they wanted to decorate their unit.
Steven Espinosa, who worked 31 years as a firefighter for the Santa Barbara City Fire Department, and Bill Espinosa helped raise more than $3,500 towards the endeavor.
“It wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have Canon support and we’re really appreciative of their efforts,” said Bill Espinosa, who used the GI bill to help earn a MBA degree that launched a varied career in planning “We’re so thankful for Santa Barbara City College having this program and for all the organizations who were kind enough to contribute.”
Steven Espinosa said the response was positive and he is hopeful that the success of the program could lead to expansion, and that the photos decorating units at Johnson Court will inspire some of the veterans living there to sign up for a future course.
“So far, we’ve kept the classes small, and this semester it includes 12 students,” he said. “There is a lot of one-on-one work and if we had a big class or we had to do it remotely, it wouldn’t work as well. But we do eventually want to extend it to first responders and feel that would be a great step forward.”
Santa Barbara City College is also a Canon Solutions America customer within the enterprise group.