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Photography Workshop with Teens in Haiti: Post #2 Jacmel, Haiti 2012

June 21, 2012 Leave a comment

I worked with the children at Art Creation Foundation for Children in Jacmel for three days.

On day one I began by setting up the equipment with Fedno, who has some experience with a camera and did not have a full day of school.  I brought with me:  a portable white cloth tent called a PortaCube from Calumet that I could use with natural light, a white shower curtain, a large roll of black gaffers tape and an inexpensive tripod.  I decided that lights would be impossible to sustain.  The electricity in Jacmel is iffy.  Teenagers break things and bulbs, etc. are not easy to find.  And the sun is really, really bright in Haiti.

A real stroke of luck was the presence of Yves, a doctoral student from Haiti, raised in Brooklyn from age 8, who was accompanying his girlfriend Jenny to the foundation.  Jenny was working with the younger kids on a protrait project and Yves was free to translate for me.  The language spoken in Haiti is Creole, a mixture of French and African languages, and I couldn’t understand a word.

Fedno was very quick to catch on to the use of the equipment.  It had been suggested that the upstairs balcony would be a good place to work.  It is in shade most of the day and has terrific light, so Fedno and I taped the shower curtain to the wall for use in shooting paintings and opened the tent and placed it on two chairs pushed together.  We were in business.  While we waited for the other kids to arrive from school, I photographed the paintings of three artists trained at the foundation who are about to graduate from high school so that they would have a record of their work.

When the kids arrived and had had lunch (during the school year a substantial lunch is served to all – during vacations, there are 3 meals a day) I demonstrated how to open the tent and use the tripod.  The foundation already has a supply of basic digital point and shoot cameras.

The tent was used to photograph paper mache objects, small mosaic pieces and small paintings on canvas board.  It worked beautifully; the light was diffused and the point and shoot cameras worked.

  I breathed a sigh of relief.  the kids were elated by how good their images looked.  On the lower right is translator Yves.

On the second day I spent the morning teaching Fedno some more advanced aspects of photography.  He had wondered about the histogram on his more advanced camera and was elated to learn what it signified.  We also worked on control of aperture and speed.  It was gratifying to see how quickly he absorbed these principles of photography.

When the rest of the group arrived, we spent hours on the balcony practicing what they had learned the day before.  First they took photographs of each other so that each person’s memory card began with an image defining whose camera it was.

Then the kids began to practice, first shooting objects,

and then paintings, using the shower curtain background.  What was most gratifying to me was the way I could step back and watch them help each other.

On the third day, we looked at the work on a notebook computer.  Everyone was thrilled to see his/her work on the screen.  We made a file for each person and transferred the images into the files for storage.  Again, I was glad to step back and watch them help each other work with the computer.Then, along with Monica, who had helped with the initial computer set-up (I am not well versed in the mysteries of PCs, being an Apple user), we went to a favorite local spot for soda and juice!

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An Inspiring Week with Haitian Teens: Post #1 Jacmel, Haiti 2012

June 17, 2012 Leave a comment

I have just returned from a wonderful week teaching a group of Haitian teenagers in Jacmel how to photograph their artwork.

Art Creation Foundation for Children was founded by my childhood friend Judy Hoffman in 2000 as a way to help street children in the town of Jacmel to get an education and learn crafts by which they could earn a living.  Little did she know what she was getting herself into.  Before the 2010 earthquake, the project included 60 children and a small staff.  The foundation now takes care of 100 children and their families.  A few of the children are orphaned; most have some family, but none had attended school or eaten on a regular basis prior to joining ACFFC.  The foundation provides a safe place to be after school, a place to do homework and to learn about and create artwork.  During the school year, the children’s school fees are paid and they are provided with uniforms, shoes, backpacks, books and a substantial lunch after school.  During vacations, they are served three meals a day.  A major goal is for each child to be able to be self-supporting and to have a real sense of community as he or she becomes an adult.

I arrived in Jacmel with my friend Monica to learn more first-hand about the foundation and to hold a workshop for some of the older children on how to photograph their artwork – mainly objects of papier mache and paintings.  It was a wonderful week and we all learned a great deal.

We somehow negotiated our way out of the totally chaotic airport Port au Prince and crossed over the mountains south to Jacmel.  Fairly hair-raising, although our driver, Juice, was really skilled at passing every person or vehicle in front of us, using an intricate combination of honks that seemed to be a common language understood by all, whether on foot or in some kind of vehicle.  We were glad to arrive in Jacmel.

This was our first introduction to the foundation:
We turned left and then right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There we were met at the door to the courtyard by Georges Metallus, the Executive Director in Haiti.

 

I will continue my story in the coming days and weeks, so that I can share my impressions of the children, their accomplishments and the work the foundation is involved in with you all.

For the moment – a peek at the group of teenagers I worked with: