Sunday, September 24, 2006

kids with cameras

The High Line is a 1.5 mile elevated railway that runs along the West Side of Manhattan that a growing group of folks is trying to save and have transformed into a public open space. It's actually pretty cool. You're not meant to walk along the High Line because it's still owned by the city, but the cool pictures on the site could definitely lead one down that path of temptation.

Friends of the High Line recently teamed up with Fujifilm to give cameras to a group of kids who live in the West Village and Chelsea -- High Line neighborhoods -- to document their lives in the city. They're great pictures, really capturing what it feels like to be a kid in the New York in the middle of summer.

I've been a fan of projects like these since I was in college and teaching media literacy classes to elementary and high school age kids at the local public access station: projects like Jim Hubbard's Shooting Back or the Educational Video Center in New York. In the mid-90's I worked in an organization that was all about putting the means of production in the hands of young people, whether it was video, radio or photography. (My friend and old boss, Tony Deifell, is actually about to publish a book that grew out of one of those projects.) Just recently, Born into Brothels told the story of a group of children, being raise by generations of prostitutes, who were taught photography.

What was it that fascinated me back then -- and still fascinates me today?

In part,
it's about giving a young person the chance to express themselves and to validate that expression by hanging it on the wall or screening it for others to see. But, really, the best part for me is the poignancy of the images they capture and the chance to see the world from a young person's perspective. With so little holding them back, they have so much to say.

(Thanks to Gothamist for the link.)

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