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(Craig Wallace Dale/Contributed) Craig Wallace Dale has traveled extensively for his... ( SCS )

SCOTTS VALLEY -- After 20 years in the New York area, Santa Cruz native Craig Wallace Dale will be back home Saturday to teach The Power of Light, his first workshop outside of the urban sprawl of New York.

The photographic lighting workshop, which Dale developed in partnership with Photoflex, a Watsonville-based company that makes lighting equipment, will soon be taught by other instructors across the U.S. and Canada.

More workshop varieties will be coming soon, but Dale said they always will debut locally. Saturday's will be at the Hilton in Scotts Valley from 1-5 p.m.

"People in Santa Cruz are so photographically engaged and savvy that it just makes sense to do them in Santa Cruz," Dale said of the inaugural workshops.

He first worked for Photoflex in the late 80s and got a taste of travel managing the company's factories in Asia. He began to spend time in New York for the job and found himself drawn to the city.

"I realized I was sitting in my office in Santa Cruz dreaming about New York," Dale, now 48, recalled.
He shares a home with his 6-year-old daughter in Hoboken, N.J., where his studio is located, not far from the city that drew him east.

"If I look out my window right now, I'm looking at the Empire State Building," Dale said in an interview from his studio.

In 2008, Dale finished a master of fine arts degree just as the recession tightened publishers' belts, slimming the market for fine art photography. With a student loan to repay and a young family to provide for, Dale branched out to save his business, opening a school called Beyond The Photograph out of his studio.

He's taught more than 300 students in private lessons and small classes, usually with fewer than a dozen students. Dale said his classes go beyond pretty pictures and photo gadgetry.

"Anyone can make a better photograph," Dale said. "But the real challenge is making a more meaningful photograph. What I'm teaching people is to make photographs that tell more complete stories."

In his years as a professional photographer, Dale has told many stories through environmental portraiture.

"(Photography) has allowed me to travel all over the world and meet so many people, from an Academy Award-winning actress like Susan Sarandon, to a rickshaw driver in India and everyone in between," Dale said.

"This is what a career in photography does."