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Haiku and Nature Photography

April 1, 2011

Who doesn’t love haikus?  The soft, cadence of 17 lovely syllables all put into one little, beautiful piece of work?  Yes, it’s hard NOT to love haikus.

So of course, we did a lesson on haikus.  Since most haikus are traditionally written about nature, we paired it with some nature photography!  The girls loved this part.  Unfortunately, a couple of the girls wrote about butterflies, which were quite hard to track down for a simple photograph.   So, with that being said, I leave you with the few photos the girls did get to pair with their haikus.

Bianka’s photo to pair with haiku about mountains.

Kimberly’s photo to pair with haiku about clouds.

Stay tuned for more!


Partes de Mi

March 6, 2011

So, I’ve fallen behind on posting, mainly due to lack of regular internet….

We’ve pretty much finished up this project, as I complete my Peace Corps experience at the end of next month.  Over the past year, the girls have really produced some amazing work.

I’ll post each lesson in the coming weeks.  This lesson was called Parts of Myself.  It explores body image and prompted the girls to pick their favorite body part and write about it.  They then teamed up to photograph their partners’ body parts…based on what they requested.

Below are the images.

Bianka’s favorite body part were her feet.  Photo taken by Kimberly.

Doris’ favorite body parts are her hands.  Photo taken by Bianka.

Jennifer’s favorite body part are her eyes.  Photo taken by Doris.

Kimberly’s favorite body part is her eyes.  Photo taken by Jennifer.

Days Seven and Eight

June 9, 2010

This week the children worked on their poems about themselves to pair with their portraits. They turned out truly wonderful! Clearly, they were written in Spanish, but I will translate to the best of my ability. It may lose their appeal a bit, but I’ll also use creative license to make them sound as natural as possible.

Portrait of Bianka:

My Life with God
by Bianka

I am from where the food is very delicious and my family has fun.
From the church where we pray on Sundays and worship God.
I am from where people behave themselves and everyone loves each other.
From the school where we study and give thanks to God.
And we help the people that need help in ways we can.

Me and my family share and celebrate the days thanking God for life and our family.
My brothers and sisters celebrate when our family is together.
Our childhood, our Christmases and gifts are the best.
This date, we are always together, being thankful for our God.

Portrait of Jennifer:

My Life as a Girl
by Jennifer

I am from Copey, where it’s very pretty.
From my house where we make delicious food.
I am one of those girls that remember and like to remember.
From beautiful things and more, concerning toys.

Doris’ Self-Portrait:

My Life With Friendship
by Doris

I am from where food is delicious.
And my family enjoys themselves.
From rice with beans to when we travel to the beaches.

I am from where people share.
And care for each other a lot.
From where friends share, and we celebrate our birthdays.

With my teacher, we help people that need help.
With my family, we share the days we go to the beach.

Portrait of Kimberli:

My Life With My Family, With God, and Rebecca
by Kimberli

I am from Copey de Dota and I live with my family.
In my house, they make good food and snacks.
I am from a house of Christmas and where the people care for each other a lot.
There is a lot of silence and I remember the things from when I was younger.

We are responsible people because my God has cared for us.
One should always be responsible and careful.
When I was young, I loved to go to church and school.
I am going to continue loving my parents and my family and my grandparents.
I am going to continue to go to mass with my parents.

I really like photography.
I give thanks for what Rebecca has given us with photography.
When one is older, they can be a photographer.
I love to take photos.

Here’s some shots I took of the girls working on their poems:

Day Five and Six

May 17, 2010

This week we began the unit called “Aqui Estoy.”  And much to my chagrin, only four kids showed up today – the girls.  Apparently, the boys “had to study.”  Anyway, it was nice to have a small group for this day.  The unit ‘Aqui Estoy‘ looks at the individual within their community through photography and poetry.  Tuesday we talked in depth about portraiture and looked at many examples.  Then, in partners we went out in the community and began to shoot the portraits.

This took up the rest of the class.  Some outtakes from messing around:

Thursday, we edited the photos on the computer and the youth explored with black and white, color, antique etc. in a photo editing program and chose how they wanted to make their portrait.  They began to write the poetry about their background, history, selves, etc., to pair with the portraits.  Though, we didn’t finish the poems, I am going to post the portraits anyway because I was so darn impressed with them.  The kids are amazing!  At our next meeting we will be finalizing our poems, which I will post again with the portraits.

Self-portrait by Doris:

Portrait of Bianka, by Doris:

Portrait of Jennifer, by Kimberli:

Portrait of Kimberli, by Jennifer:

Day Three and Four

April 29, 2010

Day three we discussed all sorts of ‘point of views’ one can use to take photographs, including bird’s eye view, worm’s eye view, near, far, side, etc.  We looked at a gazillion photographs from old Photo District News (PDN) magazines I have.  I feel the best way (well, in addition to pure practice) to learn photography is simply by seeing tons of different photos and learn what works and what doesn’t.  After looking at the photos we went outside (under the awning though only….it was pouring rain) to practice shooting portraits of their classmates using these different angles.  We discussed portraiture and ways to capture the personality of a person.  The week after next we will be exploring self-portraits along with poetry to pair with the photos.

Today, day four, was merely an editing day.  Besides one kid forgetting an important rule of coming to class prepared with all the materials (he forgot the most important – the camera full of images he took the day before!), things went fairly well.  Although, I learned many of the kids are very disinterested in the editing part and only want to be outside snapping the shutter.  I tried to explain to them that editing your photos is an as important part of the process as taking the actual photo.

Also, during the editing process, when I would ask them if they liked a certain photo and what they liked or disliked about it, they would often only comment on photos of their classmates…teasing them that it was a bad photo because so-and-so was in it.  This proved frustrating, and I tried to explain that we have to look at these from the eyes of photographers, noting elements of design, not from the eyes of their friends.

The group dynamics are very much taking shape.  The girl/boy divide is incredibly apparent.  There are exactly four boy and four girls.  They stay very separate and disliked when I pair them together.  The boys are very, very expressive, where the girls are more quiet.  When the girls have something to say and I make the boys be quiet so they can talk, they get very shy and don’t want to talk when everyone is listening.  This is something I will work on…integrating them more and allowing everyone to have a voice.

All in all, it went well.  Many of the kids are really beginning to understand the elements of design and are learning how to talk about photos and why or why they don’t like a particular photo.  This makes me very happy when I hear a kid say, “…I like it because it has lots of repetition, an interesting bird’s eye point of view,” etc.

When I was learning photography, I began to see the world differently.  I began to see images in everything (and I still do).  It changed my perspective.  I hope if anything, I can teach these children to look at their world with new eyes, and to be able to capture their world through their own, unique perspective.

Some of the children’s (and my) favorites are below:

Photos by Carlos:

Self-portrait, Carlos:

Photo by Adrían (what was a ‘mistake,’ we all thought ended up being a pretty cool photo:

Photo by Andrey (portrait of Sebastian):

Photo by Bianka:

Photo by Doris:

Photo by Katherin:

Photo by Kimberli (portrait of Katherin):

Day Two

April 15, 2010

Today was fairly quick and easy. We continued using the Visual Training Strategies methodology to talk about design elements of photography. Children are so perceptive. Many of the youth pointed out interesting aspects in the photographs that I never would have seen/thought. There is NEVER a dull moment in working with youth, which is one of the many reasons I love so much to do this type of project with them. After discussing a handful of very different photos, we made a list of specific photos to take out on a photo scavenger hunt. They included things such as: take a picture of the same object from three different angles, take a photo where lines are important, where shapes are important, where light is important, take a portrait of a person, etc. It was definitely a learning process for the kids and next week they will be editing their photos and picking their favorite. I will be posting them soon, so watch for them!

For now, here is a teaser, again, taken by Katherin.

Day One

April 13, 2010

Today was day one of Afuera de la Lente.  It started off with an icebreaker to get the kids excited, moving, and comfortable in their new surroundings.  The children then created a list of rules to follow throughout the ongoing club.  You know, the usual – be on time, be responsible, be respectful, have a positive attitude, etc.  Then we moved on to photography.

I asked each of the children to write down why they wanted to learn and explore photography.  I was so impressed with their answers.  Beyond the common answers of ‘to take pictures of nature,’ ‘to take pictures of my family and friends,’ many of the children wrote that they wanted to know their community better through photography.  I loved this!  That’s exactly what photography is for – to explore and know your world better through photography.  In addition to the writing we will be doing, I think/hope the children will find this program very beneficial to understand who they are, what is their role in their community, and even broader, in their planet.

After we talked about why we wanted to learn photography, we talked about why we take photos.  The kids mentioned things such as to have memories, to tell a story, to make a point, to know something better.  Again, I was quite impressed with their answers.  To get them to begin understanding photography and what makes a good photo, we began looking through photo magazines I had on hand.  Each child had to pick a photo that called their attention and present it to the class, explaining why they were drawn to that photo.  As they spoke, I jotted down words they mentioned that relate to photography, such as light, color, subject, etc.

Then we moved on to the Visual Thinking Strategies methodology, a research-based teaching method that improves critical thinking and language skills through discussions of visual images.  Their website states that, “by using VTS, students learn to make meaning from the world around them, to gain confidence in their own ideas while respecting those of others, and to contribute to a thoughtful debate amongst a group of peers“.  And this is where we really began to talk about elements of design in photography, such as light, point of view, shapes, textures, lines, repetition, and so on.  We looked at many different examples of photos exhibiting these types of elements.  The children enjoyed seeing all the different photos, and I never ceased to be surprised by any of their comments.

That was it for day one.  Of course, on our way out of class, the children couldn’t help but goof off with their cameras.

Photo taken by Katherin: