I have been recovering from surgery since the end of January. Last week was my first foray into the world, on crutches but able to walk and my first activity was to lead a series of photography workshops for 10 year olds. What a beginning,.
But what a time it was. We had 60 students drawn from three schools near the sponsoring organization, Stirts Theatre at Upton Cross, Cornwall. Along with an artist and a poet, we divided the kids into groups of twenty and worked with them for about two hours at a time. The teachers were present to remind them of the need to be civilized, but little discipline was required. In the two days of workshops, we had only one discipline problem and that was quickly resolved.
We had asked that kids bring cameras; however, almost no one showed up with one. One school had a few for their students only. The rest had to share four point-and-shoots I had bought or borrowed. We set them several assignments designed to get them familiar with the cameras and introduce the idea of composition.
1. Each kid wrote their name on a piece of paper. When then had a drawing and the assignment was to shoot three good photos – one posed and two candid – of that person.
2. We asked them to find circles, triangles and rectangles in nature and photograph them. Here is where we got a lot of really imaginative work. Kids photographed such static objects as tyres and stones, but they also found fascinating patterns in tree bark and one group proceeded to use their bodies to make the patterns for others to photograph.
3. We divided them into groups of three and asked them to pose each other for a series of shots. This was an extremely popular assignment. While some kids hung off trees, others tried out all their Facebook poses and one group constructed a mock jail cell and shot photos of the prisoners.
At the end of each session we projected their work onto a screen and did a light critique. My intention here was to teach them positive feedback and how to evaluate a photo. In the evening, I printed up their work and Stirts Theatre provided display boards to display it.
You may note that none of these pictures are displayed here. We took photos of the kids, but I had to promise not to use them for myself. As for presenting the kids photos here, one school was so worried about that prospect that they refused to allow their students pictures to be displayed at all.
I know there are legitimate reasons to worry about display of photos of children, but surely presenting their own work as a part of their own workshop is not a violation of confidentiality. But so it goes.