When You Give A Kid A Camera

I had my first formal photography lessons when I was nine. While using an old manual Nikon, under the artistic guidance of Jen Fariello, I learned to visualize ordinary settings and situations from alternative perspectives. In short, it was an unforgettable summer, laying down the foundations of a creative platform to abide by and one of the reasons why I love photography and am a very visual learner today. I wish shooting with film was as common today as it was then (there’s nothing like the high from both the exhilaration and the chemicals that you get developing your own rolls) but I haven’t found one place in Java that accepts film — I’ve looked! Alas embracing digital technology is unavoidable and unless one has the right tools to get those creative juices organically flowing, homogeneity ensues, especially in a culture like Java’s. Now that I’ve got quite a following of neighborhood children, just as impressionable and curious as I was at that age, I’ve taken this as an opportunity to get their sticky sugarcane paws on my camera and see what happens…

(throwback: the first time this happened resulted in one of my absolute favorites that without a doubt may define a huge portion of my service and give reason to why I have 4 new cavity fillings):

Let’s be real: teaching photography isn’t easy, especially in a foreign language. Even I’m still learning how to use my camera. I’m not perfect at all. The kids I work with are naturally bold so what I’ve focused on the most is getting the kids to hold the camera properly, reducing camera shake, framing shots, and cleansing all posed ‘peace/punk/cherrybelle-sign-y’ shots of their friends out of their little systems in order to capture something more intuitive. They see things that I don’t. They value beauty in things that I may not. Some naturally possess the eye and some don’t. Either way, giving encouragement and trusting that they won’t shatter one of my most expensive possessions is crucial to their creative learning….

For being elementary school children, I’m impressed. A few of my recent favorites:


That brings me to ask: Does anyone have any ideas how to start a sustainable photography project in the villages?

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3 thoughts on “When You Give A Kid A Camera

  1. I know a guy who knows a guy who might know another guy who happens to know when and where things (cameras maybe?) have a habit of falling off the back of trucks. If you are interested, have your people contact my people.

    • my dear, that sounds super illegal. if you know a guy who might know another guy who happens to know how to go about this in a nonbadass breakin the rules sort of way, holla atcha girrrrl

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