Youth and adult photographers are encouraged to learn to use their cameras more efficiently, and then to utilize those skills in upcoming photo art contests.

John Mills, president, Neosho Arts Council, announced the formation of photo classes this month, and then photo contests for both youth and adults will be sponsored by the council in October.

“The youth classes, which we call PhotoSquared, are coming up the weekend of the 23rd, on Saturday,” said Mills. “There’s two classes, from age 9 through 9, and then 10 to 14 will be held at the (Neosho National) fish hatchery visitor’s center.”

Mills explained the younger children will be instructed in the basic principles of photography by professional photographer Julie Stephens of Calotype Photography beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 23, and the older group will gather at 11 a.m. for discussion of advanced techniques. He said Stephens will conduct all of the classes for both youth and adults.

“The kids need to bring a digital that they have access to, whether it’s an iPhone or Android or iPad, iPod, or a regular DSLR camera,” Mills said. “They will then be given about two weeks — the entry deadline is Sept. 6 — to go out and take pictures and enter up to 25 images for the contest. The judges will select up to three images, have them printed and framed, and then they will be displayed at the fall festival.”

He said selected entries will be displayed in the Neosho Civic Center during the Oct. 4-5 Neosho Fall Harvest Arts & Crafts Festival in downtown Neosho.

Mills noted the topics outlined in the classes include composition, color, texture, pattern, focus, focal point, and much more. He said Stephens will outline techniques to gain the best use of the cameras. Tuition for the about one hour class is $20.

Two evening classes for adults are slated for Tuesday, Aug. 26, and Thursday, Aug. 28, in the Hale McGinty Business Development Center, 216 W. Spring St.

“It has a little more specific use of particular cameras,” Mills said. “Basically learning to get your camera off of automatic and learning some of the techniques that you can use with today’s modern camera to get their full potential.”

Those classes, each from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., cost $35 each, or Mills said you can take both for $60. The Tuesday class will focus on “The basic of the DSLR: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and Getting Your Camera to Do What You Want,” and he said the Thursday evening class is titled “Indoor Photography: Using Available Light, And Flash When Necessary.”

Mills stated that photo artists have an opportunity to enter the arts council’s Fall Festival Juried Fine Arts Photography Competition segment of the Regional Art Show & Sale, with $600 in cash awards. That will be held in conjunction with the Oct. 4-5 Fall Festival, and he said selected images will be printed, framed, and exhibited in the Neosho Civic Center, and will then be exhibited for the rest of the month in the One14 Coffee Bar, 114 N. Wood St. Mills said photo artists may submit up to three images, and that deadline is also Sept. 6.

He advised artists of all stripes to look forward to the Fall Festival, which also includes the Great Southern Bank Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest.

“It’s been a very popular competition and it’s for ages 6 and up,” Mills said. “There’s a thousand dollars worth of prizes available, of course most of that going to the adult division, so we are really encouraging adults to participate.”

Entry is free for children, and $10 for adults, and Mills said chalk artists will be provided professional pastel chalks with additional chalks available.

“They’ll have from eight o’clock in the morning until 2 p.m. to create their drawing on the sidewalk, and then the judging will be at two and awards will be made that day,” he said.

Mills encourages area artists to enter their works in the Regional Art Show & Sale, with booths available in the climate-controlled Civic Center.

“They are about 100 square feet each, and there is a $35 registration fee which is refundable if they come set up and stay for the full length of the day,” he said. “If they are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. then they will receive a refund of their registration fee. I just encourage everyone staying for the whole length of the show.”

Mills said area dance studios are coordinating a Dance Expo that will be performed in the Civic Center, and ArtFeeds of Joplin will host free artistic activities for youth.

“They are a wonderful organization to help promote artistic awareness and involvement in young people,” he said.

Mills said information, rules and registration for all of the classes, the contests, and the events of the Neosho Fall Harvest Arts & Crafts Festival may be found on the Neosho Arts Council website: