California Landscapes for a Class Project

What began as a senior project for recent Oakland High School graduate, Alex Ortega, became a step toward turning a passion for photography into a career. With the encouragement of his mentors, Jesse Shapiro and Michael Meija, he began studying photography during his junior year through the high school’s Visual Arts & Academic Magnet Program. The program fosters and prepares students for careers in the arts by helping them focus on and study in a specific field. To graduate, Alex was charged with completing a project, paper, and presentation centered around work for a client.

Alex found that client with Jacob Rukin, a history teacher at Oakland High School who was looking for wall art for his new apartment. Having lived in Oakland for ten years after moving to teach there, he asked for photos representative of California’s iconic landscapes.

With his client’s requirements in mind, Alex shot on his Canon T6 with a telephoto and 15mm lens across multiple locales including Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, and Oakland. Knowing he needed photos that represented parts of California, Alex captured iconic places that held familiarity from his childhood like the Half Dome at Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. “I really wanted to do this for the experience. There are a lot of places that are unique that people don’t get to see. This was my first time shooting nature photography. I learned a lot from going out and shooting these in an open environment.”

Out of nearly 600 photos, Alex whittled down a selection that he sent to Jacob. They narrowed the photos down further to twenty shots before Alex made edits and finally Jacob chose the final three images that he would have printed by Artmill. Jacob recalled the inspiration for choosing Artmill, “When I recognized the quality of the photos Alex took, I wanted to find a way to print them to make them stand out. I had seen a Peter Lik in Chicago and asked Alex what would be similar. He recommended Artmill.”

“The website was very easy to use, though I did have to check with Alex to make sure the proportions were correct.” After receiving help from Alex to figure out the perfect size for his wall art, Jacob ordered one 40” x 30” and two 20” x 30” Gallery Acrylic Facemounts. Jacob noted the pristine condition upon arrival. “The finished products look great. The packaging was effective and the acrylic was shipped in perfect condition with no damage.”

The three Acrylic Facemounted photos hang in Jacob’s living room. Alex commented on his first impression upon seeing photos of the final products, “I really liked the outcome. It looked modern and gave a floating effect that I liked.”

To inquire about Alex Ortega's photography, please email