Tuesday, March 20, 2007

For the kids

Two Fridays and two visits to Rev Village and the children continue to get super excited about using my camera. They want to hold it, use it, pose other children, and run all over the place with it. :) It's been quite the transformational tool for some of them, and they become a new little person when I put it around their neck.

Imagine, one camera and more than a handful of interested children. More than a few small head-on disagreements that have brewed with the camera being tugged this way and that. Imagine too the feeling once a little boy's insistance, Timothy, revealed that he didn't want to photograph at the moment but TEACH a younger boy the art of holding the camera and finding the shutter release. Timothy reveals plenty of confidence and also a willingness to learn, and his pressing desire to teach was more than a pleasant surprise and gift.

There have been other gifts like these that are centering for me and possibly for them too.

Javonte, who LOVES to have the camera in hand, felt so spirited that he spun around and around while shooting images and screamed, "Ooo-hooooo!" When it's time for him to pass it on to someone else he always spreads his sweetness on thick to get just a few more shots.

Another little boy, who has a tough time settling into just about anything, stopped with my camera and wanted to take pictures of some origami paper folds. When he placed the folded paper cup over the flash and snapped a few I realized that he didn't understand how the camera worked. I showed him that his image didn't appear in the viewer, and then proceeded to take apart the camera to show him the lens and mirror that flips up. He held up that lens and looked through it with the hugest smile. He was so engaged, the most I had ever seen him before.

Last week when Nisha ran out to meet her mom and dad picking her up at the center, she ran back in and asked, "Oh, could I please take a picture of my mom and dad?" I gave her the camera and suggested we step outside into better light. She kicked into little photographer and set them up in a spot that she liked. I showed her how to view and set up her image and she continued to direct the scene. She was so excited that she insisted I get into a picture too. What a love. I also took a family portrait that they all liked, and Nisha then said out loud, "I've asked my mom for a camera but...".

Other moments like this replay themselves in my mind and heart, and more and more I find myself saying to myself, "I have to figure out a way...". A way to get more cameras, more hands, and more time for the children to get involved in not only the art of photography but the experience of sharing their voice and perspectives about their world. Others individuals have made this phenomena happen with children and continue to do so today. The New Orleans Kid Camera Project is beyond inspirational. A lecture given by Jim Hubbard that I attended over 10 years ago planted the seed that stirs in me now. Instead of saying that "I want to do that one day" from the outside I now find myself in the process of beginning the doing from the inside. The children's pure curiosity and teachers like these help me continue feeling the 'why' and learning the 'how'.

I'd like to start sharing some of their images, but I'm wary on posting pics of the children without parental/guardian awareness and permission. I'm working on that for our weekly visit.

In this set, the cover image is of an Arts Council storyteller photographed my Timothy. You'll see Nisha's of her parents waist down. I do not edit them either because of the value in seeing their original form. The other few were taken by me and include the new trailer row "street" signs that now appear.

Rue de Desire Ren Village


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