As a nationally recognized youth photography and mentoring program, First Exposures strives to make a long-term impact on the lives of high-need, underserved youth in the San Francisco Bay Area.
First Exposures provides youth aged 11-18 the opportunity to engage with photography in a classroom with guidance from a photographer who serves as both a mentor and a positive adult role model. Many of our students have experienced difficult life circumstances and are in the process of stabilizing their lives. Photography is the catalyst by which our students acquire vital life skills and the vehicle through which we deepen their intellectual, academic, and developmental experiences. While learning to photograph, students are also enhancing their self-confidence, developing their personal vision, and cultivating their passion for learning. Since the program's founding in 1993, over 95% of our students have gone on to pursue a college education. We reinforce our class time with time spent in experiential learning environments: visits to local newspapers, major museums, alternative art spaces, commercial photography studios, etc. And each semester we also go on a field trip to locations like Angel Island, Pie Ranch in Pescadero, the Solano Land Trust, and Bay Area beaches. The students use their cameras to explore and interpret these places, as well as with sites and people closer to home.
We meet at RayKo Photo Center (a community darkroom) and in our SOMA home - right next to Adolph Gasser at 2nd and Howard. First Exposures classes are located conveniently near BART and many bus lines.
Academic Year Mentorship Program
Since 1993 each First Exposures student is matched one-to-one with a photographer who provides individualized guidance and serves as a volunteer mentor and positive adult role model. Photography is the catalyst by which our students acquire vital life skills and it is the vehicle through which we deepen their intellectual, academic and developmental experiences. Classes are offered in both traditional and digital photography.
Summer Group Mentoring Program
In the summer of 2014 we introduced our first group-mentoring program offering our services for 30 youth. In comparison to our academic year program, this class operates in small group settings with two mentors and five mentees acting as a team to provide a unique shared experience and more peer-to-peer learning. Using state-of-the-art digital SLR cameras we provide a very similar experience to our regular program in an intensive eight weeks.