The Coast News Group
Photographer Zach Cordner, second from left, instructs students during a practice shoot. Lessons take place on campus and around Oceanside. Photo by Promise Yee
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High school students learn photojournalism skills

OCEANSIDE — Turing the pages of The Osider Magazine you might notice credit given to Pirate Pics photographers.

These aspiring photojournalists are Oceanside High School students who take part in the afterschool photography program.

Pirate Pics began two years ago when ASSETs federal funds were awarded to the high school to offer engaging after school programs that teach job readiness skills.

Photojournalist Zach Cordner, the creative director of The Osider Magazine and photography director of Encinitas Magazine, saw the teaching opportunity as a way for him to give back.

Cordner has an impressive work portfolio that includes a client list of Penguin Books, Capital Records, Playboy, Guitar World and Revolver.

He created a niche for himself shooting portraitures of musicians, athletes and celebrities.

While much of his work takes him to Los Angeles he has been based in Oceanside since working as the photo editor for Transworld Magazine from 1999 to 2002.

Cordner said mentoring Oceanside kids is a perfect fit for him.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to give back to kids, the next generation of photographers, filmmakers and artists,” Cordner said.

The afterschool program meets on Tuesdays and teaches students the basics of using professional equipment, manual camera settings, lighting, digital editing and how to document the world.

“The whole thing teaches kids to shoot and have fun with it,” Cordner said. “Those who are interested can take it a step further.”

Cordner said looking through the lens of a camera is great way to open students’ eyes to the world around them.

Students who want to push their skills further have opportunities to shoot events in Oceanside and nearby cities and have their photos published in The Osider Magazine.

During editorial assignments students learn on-the-job etiquette, think on their feet and put their skills to the test.

“Students are excelling at it,” Cordner said. “I set the bar high and these kids are reaching that bar.”

Students have also had sessions with professional sports, food and fashion photographers. Lessons have taken place at Oceanside Pier, Masters Kitchen and on campus.

Cordner said success in the afterschool program is motivating students to focus on high school classes and set their sights on college.

“They’re thinking about college,” Cordner said. “Before they were not thinking about anything after school. I’m humbled by the whole experience. I believe in these kids.”

Cordner said the small class size of under 30 students allows him to mentor kids. He said it is important to him to let students know they matter, and that people care aboust them and the choices they make.

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