A group of nine children armed with cameras marched down the alley between 11th and 12th Streets Wednesday morning in downtown Hays. They zoomed in for photos of wooden buildings and rusty car parts as they explored downtown for the third day of the Hays Arts Council’s summer photography workshop. Led by their instructor, Jennifer Younger, the children were focusing on textures and close-up photographs.

Younger, the art teacher at Hays High School, is teaching several classes provided by the HAC’s summer youth art program, starting with photography.

“We do a lot of stuff out here and make sure the kids are staying creative during the summer and not just sitting on the screens,” Younger said.

Throughout the class that began Monday and ends today, the participants have learned about several different elements of photography, including composition, lighting, perspective and contrast. Trips through downtown Hays and Frontier Park have provided the children with various architectural and natural subjects. The class also experimented with abstract compositions by photographing a mix of water, oil and food coloring.

Younger has enjoyed seeing the creativity the children put into their photographs.

“The really cool thing when the younger kids take their pictures is their perspective on things is so much different than ours. A 9-year-old’s perspective is different than an adult because they just have a different way of looking at the world so it’s fun to see how their pictures turn out,” Younger said.

Alexander Kershner, 9, is taking the workshop for the second year. He has learned to see ordinary objects in new ways.

“You can look at a wall and there’s so much to take a photo of. People think it’s just a wall but it’s actually artistic,” Alexander said.

The photography workshop has seen changes through the years due to the evolution of digital cameras.

“The early classes for the arts council were actually done in the darkroom. So everything was done with film and the kids would do their own developing and cropping and hanging them up to dry and actually got to work in the darkroom,” said Brenda Meder, executive director of the HAC.

With the myriad of different cameras now on the market, the class’ focus has shifted from technical to artistic, teaching elements of composition, lighting and finding interesting subjects. A wide range of cameras were used during the class, from higher end digital cameras to cellphone cameras.

“Our class now for photography is getting them to see and think and approach what they’re doing with the mind and spirit and the eyes of an artist,” Meder said.

The photography workshop is the first of multiple classes being offered for children and adults through the HAC summer art program that runs through the beginning of August. Classes for painting, ceramics, stained glass, arts and crafts projects and performing arts are among the schedule.

“It really is about just giving them the opportunity to create, to mold, to use their hands and their mind and their eyes and their heart and just really letting them have the opportunity to do that even if they’re isn’t some extensive, detailed curriculum plan. Its about having that creativity opportunity and just letting them explore,” Meder said of the program.

For a list of classes and updated enrollment information, visit haysartscouncil.org. Several classes still have openings and those interested in enrolling can call HAC at (785) 625-7552.