August 8, 2011
This summer Brain Lucke, Ryan Widemon, and I are teaching a class in digital photography to the secondary class in Pampacorral. Ranging from ages 13-17, the children will be instructed on the use of the cameras and the basic fundamentals of the photography medium.
The goal for this project is to provide an outlet for the children to express themselves, while giving them a new perspective on how they view their world. Throughout the six-week period, the class will be working towards fostering the ability to express their own hopes and desires, for themselves and their community. Some of the children have been the subjects of photos, but most(if not all) have never been behind the lens creating their own images. We want to see what is important in their lives, and what they see as important in their future. At the end of the class the students will work together to display their photos in large proportions on the side of their community buildings for everyone to enjoy.
Throughout the past several months, we have been raising money through our individual universities and our hometown of Marshall, Michigan. By the time we left in early July, we had raised enough money and donations to purchase 8 digital cameras, 8 memory cards, and the money necessary for printing all of the children’s projects.
We are now halfway through the course, and things could not be going any better. The children are thrilled with the opportunity to be able to use the cameras, and they have taken to the assignments quite well. The first several days were dedicated solely to the manipulation of the cameras, as most students had never held a camera before. It was a steep learning curve at first, as there were many lessons that we usually take for granted. We overlooked little things like holding the camera at a flat angle, or getting the entire subject in the frame. Being so saturated with cameras in our daily lives, this class has been a learning experience for us as well. Every week we teach another couple of concepts and assign more homework as their understanding of the medium grows.
During the course, the students are split into groups of 2 and 3. They alternate possession of the cameras daily, while the groups still work together on the assigned homework. Every weekend, the camera is given to one individual of every group. This project will take three weeks to complete, as every child needs a weekend with the camera. During these three days they will have a separate homework assignment: family portraiture. The students are asked to document their own personal lives and the people and things that affect it. We encourage the students to take pictures of everything that makes up their daily life, through their own eyes. Ranging from the family ceremonies and traditions to the wild animals of the Sacred Valley, This assignment has easily been the most rewarding part of the class. We have been blown away by the incredibly rare moments that they are able to capture. The insight into their lives becomes clearer and more intriguing every day.
We start a new assignment next week, as our time here seems to be going by faster every day. Every class the photos get better, the students get more involved, and we all become closer as a class. We cannot wait to see what the next couple of weeks hold for our students, as the final project of the large-scale photos is approaching. We are blessed to be able to share this experience with the kids, as we have learned just as much as they have, albeit very different lessons. Keep an eye out for more updates, coming soon from Pampacorral! ~Eric Ebner