The first group I started the project with was a group of kindergardeners in an after school program at Isla Visa School in Goleta, California. The school is right down the street from me and it seemed like the obvious place to start out. I was also very curious to see what kind of photographs the kids would produce. After contacting the school principal and then the after school teacher, I was able to schedule a time to meet with the children to explain my project and let them have free reign with the cameras.
Ms. Kelemen also helped me form a deal with the Samy’s Camera store downtown where they lent me their used film cameras they had for free and gave me a discount on development. I also had to, before I gave the kids cameras, create permission slips for their parents to sign, allowing me to use their pictures for my project and for their children to be photographed. All parents but one agreed.
On the day it was really chaotic trying to explain everything to the children and passing out the cameras because they were all very eager and antsy and wanted to get started right away. They had tons of questions and we tried to explain to the best of our ability how to use the cameras so that the pictures didn’t come out blurry. The whole experience was really fun, though, as the kids ran around, proud of what they were doing and glad they had full control of what they wanted everyone to see. Above are just some of the pictures they took.
At the end of they day, I gathered them all together for a group photo. Most of them are looking at the camera at least :).
Here are some pictures I took that day of the kids :).
A few weeks later, after all the film was developed, Ms. Kelemen and I returned to the after school and showed the pictures to all the children in a slideshow. They were delighted and fascinated that these photographs they were viewing were taken by them. Many shouted out the things they recognized and the names of their friends when they saw them. They were so prideful of what they had created that was all their own. If you would like to view all of their wonderful photos, blurry or not, click on the link above.
Here are some of the standout photos from the second place I took my project: a senior living home called Maravilla in Santa Barbara, California. I contacted the activities director their and actually went to there happy hour activity to recruit people for the project. Everyone was socializing, drinking, and having snacks as Ms. K and I went up to groups and told them about the goal. If they volunteered, I gave them instructions and a camera!
At first I had some trouble tracking all the cameras down because a couple of people didn’t return them. Also, some of the film cameras were not working properly and I had to give different ones out. But after all of that was worked out and I developed the film, the activities director advertised an event to view a slideshow of the pictures. It was fun to talk to the participants about what they thought of the project and to show them their pictures as well as the pictures taken by the kindergardeners. It was also really interesting to see the comparison of views by people at two very different stages in their lives. One would think they would be very different, but they were so alike in both subject matter and joy of life.
Last summer, in 2010, Ms. Kelemen started my cameras’ journey overseas. We contacted her longtime friend who was going to Ghana on a trip and was planning on visiting an orphanage. This was the first time I had not been there when the pictures were being taken. When I got the film developed, it was very exciting because of all the mystery of what would appear and how these kids had perceived the project. Check out some of the pictures above! You can see their poverty and sadness yet you can also see the joy that they had being able to use these cameras to tell people their story.
More of the pictures taken by the kids :).
I really wanted to get variety among the participants of the project. Since I had already had both young and old generations, I thought it would be cool to get the view of a generation more in between. My mother is an English Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, and she gladly volunteered her honors English class of about fifteen students whom I could ask to participate.
It is interesting how some students chose to take more pictures of their friends while some chose the more artistic approach.