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Sound Bites - Issue #77 - August 2020 #352

On the Cover
The Wizard of iPhone Photography, Alon Goldsmith

Goldsmith’s “Surveillance” won the 2020 Annual Student Photo Contest

Alon Goldsmith

Alon Goldsmith & Family

Alon Goldsmith, winner of the 2020 SMC Community Ed Student Photo Contest, was the first to capture the top prize in the competition’s six years with an iPhone image. Perhaps not surprising because Forbes magazine dubbed him “LA’s iPhoneography Wizard.”

Goldsmith has been taking iPhone photos since 2008 – a year after the first iPhone was released. Yet, he fell into iPhone photography by accident when he started commuting to work on his bicycle and would stop when something caught his eye. Indeed, his winning image Surveillance, which graces the cover of Community Ed’s Fall 2020 brochure, was captured the same way.

“The location is the Boardwalk in Venice Beach at the height of the Coronavirus shutdown in mid-April,” he said. “I was out riding my bike when I noticed that this wall, which is usually painted with a brightly colored mural, had been painted over with what I think of as COVID Brown. I felt compelled to stop and wait for something interesting to happen. I photographed a number of decent images, but I knew immediately upon capturing this one that my work was done.”

Originally from South Africa, Goldsmith went to college in Israel and had a record store in Jerusalem for a number of years. After returning to South Africa for a while, he then headed to the U.S., ending up in Los Angeles. Though at first he had no intention to stay here, he found himself doing a lot of odd jobs before starting a career, in his 40s, as an advertising copywriter.

Since taking up iPhone photography (and more recently “regular” camera shooting as well), he has found something of a niche in street photography, though he has also taken a wide variety of images. On his website, he has categorized them under intriguing titles, including “Signs of Resistance,” “Glitz Glam Shazam,” “Flowers & Beasties,” and “Iceland.” Recently, he has begun to shoot a series called In Place/ “Portraits of a Pandemic” that he is considering turning into a coffee table book.

But his first love is street photography taken with an iPhone.

“There’s something about the phone that allows me to focus my creativity in a sharp but pregnant way, finding these loaded moments,” he said. “I see the world in these moments, where I can almost predict what’s about to happen in a split second. I get a real charge every time it happens.”

The SMC Community Ed award is not his first. Previous honors include runner up in the journalism category in the prestigious Mobile Photography Awards, as well as numerous honorable mentions across other categories. He has also achieved wins in the Hipstography Awards, and honorable mentions in the iPhone Photography Awards and the MIRA Mobile Prize. His work has also been published in the Los Angeles Times, Reader's Digest and the App Whisperer, and has been extensively featured in Snap and Mobiography magazines.

In addition, his work has been featured extensively across media and exhibited in galleries around the globe. His images are included in the private collections of photography collectors all over the world.

Goldsmith, 59, who shot Surveillance using his iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Hipstamatic app, has taken three photography classes at SMC Community Ed and speaks highly of the instructors he had, Larry Jones and Ed Mangus.

He lives in Del Rey with his wife Lianne, who he says is a talented artist, and two daughters, Lennon, 24, and Noa, 18.

“I'm really happy to have won and more importantly that my image appears on the cover of the Santa Monica College Community Education fall 2020 class schedule,” he said.

The first runner-up in the Community Ed contest is Mark Harding for his image “Covered Bridge,” and Julian Tso’s “Yosemite Mist” is the second runner-up.

Altogether, 241 images from 67 students and/or alumni were submitted for the contest – a record number. The submissions were judged at two levels to boil the contest down to three finalists for public voting, which tallied a record 1,070 votes.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets for the latest on our contest and other news. And for questions on the voting process, please do not hesitate to contact us at

What's Next:
Join Our Remote Live Experience!  Beginning Aug. 31

Alice Meyering

Wellbeing classes

Writing classes

Art classes

from the desk of Alice Meyering

After successful spring and summer sessions, during which most instructors were able to switch to an online format, SMC Community Ed is proud to offer a robust schedule of classes this fall, beginning Aug. 31. Register now for our Remote Live courses!

As an example, we are offering four very different classes in the writing category this fall. They are Poetry Writing and Reading Workshop, Memoir Writing Workshop, How to Write Funny, and Writing a Short Story.

We’ve also scheduled a number of art and music courses, including Contemporary Singing Techniques and Integrative Art Workshop. For those who have the COVID blues, the following will likely be helpful – More Mindfulness Meditation and Reiki – Level 1.

We are bringing back our art and architecture lecture series with fascinating new topics – The Harlem Renaissance and The Mexican Muralists.

And, as usual, we are offering several business and entrepreneurial training classes, as well as self-development.

Please browse our courses on our website. You can also view the fall schedule of classes as a PDF document on our website. If you have questions, please feel free to email us at

Behind the Scenes:
Instructors Going All In, Virtually!

Heather Lyle, in pre-COVID days with a group of Indian students

Heather Lyle's new studio

Jonathan Leigh Solomon, in days gone by at the Improv

Sarah Olim teaches one-on-one piano

Alice Meyering is impressed that most of the SMC Community Ed instructors have adapted so well to our online format – more specifically, Remote Live – instruction since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in mid-March.

But Meyering, who is the coordinator for Community Ed, says some instructors have gone the extra mile to make online classes even better.

Take, for instance, Heather Lyle, who had previously taught Contemporary Singing Techniques for years on the ground. (She has also taught Vocal Yoga.)

Lyle has taken the extra step to invest in equipment and has set up a studio to create a more appealing Zoom experience for her students.

She invested a few hundred dollars to purchase a high-definition video camera and a ring light that gives students a higher quality visual as she sits at the piano. Both the camera and its speaker are better than the built-in ones on her laptop, she said, and the ring light provides a softer, more professional look.

 “It’s all about lighting, the camera and the microphone,” she said, adding that she encourages all instructors to invest in the equipment.

In addition, Lyle has set up a small set behind the piano that she uses for her private Vocal Yoga classes, with a yoga mat, gong and several musical instruments. She will use that set for her Community Ed students if she teaches that course in the future, she said.

She recently finished teaching her summer Contemporary Singing Techniques class with the new equipment and said it was a big success.

“It’s been so fun, everyone stays connected,” she said. “Everyone bonded, and you wouldn’t think they would but they do.”

Another instructor who has made major adjustments to his class in the wake of COVID-19 is Jonathan Leigh Solomon, who teaches How To Write Funny and Stand-Up Comedy Workshop with Graduation Show (also via Remote Live).

He said he invested at least $700 in equipment for lighting and cameras. His house now has a studio with tape on the floor to mark set-ups.

Sarah Olim, who teaches One-on-One Piano remote live, uses several platforms for her students, depending on what they prefer.

“I do Skype, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, and even do several on the phone,” she said.   “I have one gentleman who has Zoom from work and sends me an ‘invite’ each week, but I think the other platforms are easier and quicker.”

Olim added, “As to adjusting to teaching online, it took a little courage on my part to start as I had never done it before.  Now, I'm actually comfortable with it and enjoy it.  Most of the students are good at putting their phone, laptop or iPad so that I can see them and their hands. I have perfect pitch, so I can call out when the student accidentally plays an incorrect note. I also have some tools for visual aids including a whiteboard that has a keyboard and a staff on it to write notes or to show how to do whatever it is that the student needs to help them to understand.”

Eleanor Schrader, who presents on Zoom an art and design lecture series, switched swiftly and successfully to an online format in March. She, too, invested in a camera and a ring light for her online lectures.

“I’ve had a blast with Zoom,” she said. “Especially my older students love it, as they are more likely to be sheltered in place and are looking for things to do. So many of them have told me that the Zoom classes have been a ‘godsend.’”

Go to our Community Ed website now and start exploring your avenue of commitment. You can also email us at For the classes mentioned in this article, visit their information pages Contemporary Singing Techniques, How To Write Funny,   Stand-Up Comedy Workshop with Graduation Show, and One-on-One Piano.

New Perspectives:
Stocks, Bonds, and Investing. Oh, My!

By Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education

As some of our students already know, SMC Community Ed has had a long-time partnership with ed2go that spans over 20-years and offers a wide variety of personal enrichment and professional development/career training courses online.

With ed2go, we offer two types of online experiences: short term instructor-led courses and full-fledged Career Training programs. Both are non-academic, non-credit offerings, with the Career Training programs awarding a certificate of completion upon passing the program. Courses are project-oriented and include lessons, quizzes, hands-on assignments, discussion areas, supplementary links, and more. 

As the coordinator of Community Ed – and as a person who is hungry for knowledge – I recently took a financial investment class through ed2go, Stocks, Bonds, and Investing: Oh, My!, and it’s been a rewarding experience. I encourage you to follow my lead.

The registration process is very easy, the cost is reasonable, the program is flexible, and the benefits of online learning are many. You proceed at your own pace, you don’t have to commute to your class (though, of course, given COVID-19 there are few in-person classes currently taking place), and you can wear your pajamas while taking the class if you want.

However, you need to be self-motivated and disciplined. It’s a good idea to realize that you are following this path for the pure joy of learning and for gaining knowledge.

I’ve very much enjoyed taking my financial investment class because it’s a new and exciting experience and, as I said earlier, I can do it from the comfort of my home, particularly given the current coronavirus pandemic. My class took place from mid-June to early August and I am now taking the next course in the investment series – stock options. There were two lessons a week, with quizzes at the end of each lesson, and you can take each quiz as many times as you like. I also had to take a final.

As I mentioned, ed2go is flexible. That means, for example, you can change the date of your class to a later date (class sessions begin in the middle of each month). And communication with ed2go, which is strictly via email, is also easy and responses come within 24 hours.

One word of advice, however. Some students make simple mistakes when communicating with ed2go. For example, student might not give a valid email when registering. Or they might not check their email inboxes as frequently as they should. Please avoid these mistakes, and I assure you, all will go smoothly.

Browse our ed2go Fundamental, instructor-led courses for single topic classes or our career training website for more complete training programs.