Natalie Franco: The Power of Photography

Natalie Franco, Photographer


Photographer, LA City Advocacy Team member and teacher Natalie Franco guest blogs on how a youth photography class can change a life. 

Her blog is illustrated with her photographs from one of the youth classes she teaches.




I've traveled over three continents working as a professional photographer, and have realized that my passion originated from the arts education programs I attended as a child.

The world can look different through a lens; it appears like a filtered reality. When a person sees the world through a viewfinder, they observe shapes, people and the environment. Photography teaches you to notice details of the world. It enhances your perception to navigate thoroughly on a deep, conscience level.


Students in Natalie Franco's SnapShop class

I attended various after school art programs throughout much of my teenage life. The programs encouraged and reassured my quest to build a professional career out of my profound love for the arts. I adapted the techniques I learned during the programs and applied them to the imagery I create today.

For example, I was taught to draw the human form in the right proportions.  When I photograph today, that knowledge is reflected in the way I capture an image.  My arts education improved my ability as a young adult to critique projects and articulate my vision.


Students in Natalie Franco's SnapShop class


In 2006, I traveled to Turkey to work on a short essay on Aegean villages outside the city of Izmir. I had only a Nikon N80 and twenty roles of film in my bag.

Photographing village life became the primary focus of my photo-based story. I kept the fundamentals of art in my head and focused on what I wanted to capture within the village. Whether I was in Morocco or Moscow, I carried the everyday elements of design in my toolbox.

You can haul all types of expensive equipment to capture an aesthetically pleasing image, but if you do not comprehend the fundamentals of composition then you are virtually lost.


Students in Natalie Franco's SnapShop class


As a photography teacher, I want my own students to shape the world through photography by identifying the extraordinary within the ordinary.

The world is assembled through color, shape, and design. Environments and people are the building blocks of nature. Through photography, you can freeze a moment and create sustaining images that speak volumes to describe and preserve human history.

I want students to know that they can influence the world using a camera. They are the future storytellers of society, and we will rely on them to document people, history, events and more.


Students in Natalie Franco's SnapShop class


During a workshop I instructed for inner city youth in Los Angeles last April, students captured compelling imagery using digital cameras. The photography course became a productive platform for inspiration.  As students said their goodbyes, one student said he planned to continue learning photography, inspired to take his interest further.

Art continues to awaken our curiosity, and the arts education programs that provide this opportunity will leave a lasting legacy on the human race.



Natalie Franco is a photographer living in Los Angeles. Visit her blog at