Yesterday was a great day. I presented an early 1900s Century Studio camera to a group of elementary and preschool children, grades Preschool to 4th, at Page Academy in Hancock Park (Los Angeles). We split up in to two sections, so the older children could do more activities. The kids were just as enthusiastic as the teachers. The back and forth dialogue was a nice touch as I introduce these children to the world of fine art photography and all the possibilities in what is considered now old world photography or alternative processes.
I showed the kids a few examples of my work and the different look a photograph can take. We looked at some blue tinted silver gelatins done in a darkroom setting with film negatives. I also showed them some Macro photography printed on metallic paper of flowers, from the “Flower Porn” series. I also showed “Dinner”, a photography of a cockatiel being stalked by a cat in a tree, and 2 images from the “Festival of Lights” series. I, also, showed two handmade books and then we got to work!
With the older kids, we made pinhole camera. If you did not see my Facebook live video post about how we made these, I have posted it below. The children really enjoyed making these cameras. I wish we had more time to decorate them!
The teachers were very helpful in this process. I walked them through cutting holes in boxes. The students really wanted to do this part, but I emphasized safety first. I showed the students the box with holes in it. Told them to take a bottle cap with pinhole and tape it over the hole in the box (just as seen in the video). After they had all finished this step, I got them to place a white index card inside the box and view their projected image on it. Since it was an overcast day, a lot of students struggled to see the image. We learned the best way was to literally point the pinhole at the rectangular lights on the ceiling and view that image on the paper. It was great seeing all of their smiling faces when the saw the image.
We also experimented with Photograms. This is a process were you lay objects on the light sensitive paper and let the sun burn the image into your print. We used Sunprint, by the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkley, to make these prints. I chose this product because it only needed to be developed in water and was safe for kids 6 and up. I had originally planned on bringing silver gelatins and letting the kids make prints with their camera, but decided the group size of 50 kids was too big to assist with this process; and I wanted the kids to have something to take home. We will have to save silver gelatins developed in Caffenol-C for another day.
The process went smoothly and was a big success! Majority of the students prints turned out great. The ones that didn’t were either a result of not letting their objects and sensitized paper expose long enough in the overcast sunlight or because they were not rinsed thoroughly. The teachers made the best assistants since they knew their students well enough to know who needed extra assistance in completing their projects. My husband, Andre, also helped rinse prints.
All the above photographs were captured by Mrs Hana Lee at Page Academy’s Hancock Park location.
Later that day, I received student written ‘thank you’ notes with drawings. These were from the Kindergarden and Junior Kindergarden classes. I am posting a few of the Kindergarden notes. Their teacher, Ms Ahn, asked them to draw a picture about the photography workshop they experienced moments before. These are the images the kids came up with. I love getting custom artwork to bring back home with me.
A special thank you goes out to Mrs Hana Lee and Ms. Pat of Page Academy (Hancock Park), for allowing me to present photography to the school children, and Georgann Immordino, for supplying the boxes for the pinhole cameras.